– or how being a member of the Together Lancashire Churches in Morecambe Social Action group helped me and the community I serve.

 

When I first arrived in post in April of 2014, I was new to Morecambe, and new to the churches of Morecambe. My role was to be a Family and Community worker for the GYM Methodist Church on Green Street in Morecambe.

 

I was tasked with trying to build connections between the church and the community around the church, which was rather overwhelming when the church itself was so small, and I didn’t really know anybody.

 

I set off on my first day popping into local agencies to let them know I was there, and starting to serve the community of the Poulton neighbourhood.

 

Our Food-bank manager told me about the next Churches together meeting at the West End Impact, so I went along with her the first time. Little did I know how important that group would become.

 

Through the group I was able to meet other church leaders, and begin to understand what social action was already going on across Morecambe. During the meetings we were made aware of grants we could apply for, and initiatives that could be appropriate for us to be involved in.

 

An example was raising my awareness of the Cinnamon Trust, and that they might fund something that our church could do. I applied initially for funds to set up a CAP money course. I was turned down, but later on I applied for another initiative called Make Lunch, and was successful in obtaining £2000 to set up a kitchen to feed hungry children in the school holidays.

 

The links I made through the churches Together forum enabled me to discuss my plans with another church leader who was also wanting to do a similar initiative. This resulted in our being able to complement one another's initiatives by running them on different days, so ensuring the children could access hot food every day of August in 2015.

 

Through the group I was made aware of more funding that I could apply for to get more equipment for Make Lunch. I applied to Together Lancashire , and was given a Mustard Seed grant of £405.96 to buy what was lacking.

 

Another way that being part of the group positively impacted what I was doing on the ground was through being a part of the “Faith in the Community” day at the Platform in Nov 2014. It was organised by our group, and enabled representatives from council, the police, and many of the local agencies and churches to get together to discuss important topics affecting our community.

 

This was helpful in opening everyone's eyes to what was being done in churches already, and gave us a forum to connect with all kinds of agencies. It was an exciting day.

 

In 2015 the work was revisited in October where an updated film of the work the churches do was shown to a group of church and agency workers. This was another successful event, giving us opportunity to discuss how we could better coordinate the services that are available in Morecambe.

 

Another bonus from my membership of the group was that I was invited to see  Boarbank Hall in Grange-Over-sands with one of the other church leaders. The visit was to assess its suitability for people to stay there. It is run by Augustinian nuns, and is a great place to rest and be looked after.

 

Following a wonderful afternoon tea and tour of the Hall and grounds, I organised a church week end away there. We went there on 20-22nd May 2016, and it was a huge success. There were just 10 of us including 2 children, and we were made very welcome indeed. The food was excellent, and most of us had ensuite rooms. I would recommend it for any small groups wanting to have some time away to plan, pray or just rest. Could be very beneficial for tired church leaders.

 

As I leave my job here in Morecambe, I will remember the importance of going along to that first meeting. All the opportunities above came from that one decision to actively get involved with other churches, and I would like to thank Together Lancashire for working to see groups such as this one thrive and bless the community to which they are called.

 

Every blessing, Lorna Plura