The Together Network is central to the work of CUF.
There is a great will and desire within churches across England to see their communities transformed. The Together Network is designed to extend the reach and impact of that work by providing a unique support system for churches and others to change lives and communities together across England.
The Together Network is made up of 19 Joint Ventures, each a partnership between CUF and a Church of England diocese. Each of these partnerships employs a development worker who brings expertise and support to churches and others to bring about positive change in their communities.
How does it work?
Responding to local issues: In each of these 19 dioceses the Together Network partnerships respond to local issues; if food poverty is a serious problem in the area, the Together Network will inform, inspire, resource, and support local churches and organisations to respond to that. Equally, if churches have spotted an opportunity to have a positive impact on communities, we can help.
Offering bespoke support: Together Network development workers in each of these dioceses offer bespoke, personalised support to churches and others seeking to start or develop their own community social action.
Connecting: The Together Network aims to make local activities more effective by building collaborative partnerships between those seeking to do similar work in similar areas. This means the impact of this work is felt more keenly in communities that need it, and also means that organisations can work together more effectively and creatively.
A hub for learning: The Together Network provides the church with ‘joined up thinking’ to make the most of the desire of Christians to make a difference where they live; if effective approaches to social action have been developed in one part of the Network, that can be shared with others locally and elsewhere. The Together Network is also able to share good practice and encourage joined-up strategic activities over a wider area, and to act as a source of valuable information and influence at a national level.
How Can You Get Involved?
If your diocese is already a part of the Together Network, you can get in touch with your local organisation and find out how you, your church, or your charity can take part in the work.
If your diocese is not already a part of the Together Network, you can donate today so that the Network can grow across the whole of the country.
Themes Of Work
Below are just several of the many themes of work running across the Together Network.
Homelessness is a serious and growing issue. The statistics are staggering: one in ten people in England say that they have personally experienced homelessness and the number of people sleeping rough in London alone has doubled in the last five years. Across the Network, projects to support those experiencing homelessness include city-wide Winter Night Shelters and countless drop-in sessions providing relief for immediate needs such as food, clothing and accessing benefits, and holistic support such as financial advice, employment training and healthcare.
Loneliness is an increasingly common experience in Britain. Almost one in five of us say that we feel lonely often or always, one in ten say they have no close friends and, in 2014, 64% of Anglican church leaders said that loneliness and isolation was a significant problem in their area – up from 58% in 2011. The Together Network working in partnership with local services to creating hundreds of local community hubs, Places of Welcome, community lunches and many other activities to invite people into communities of friendship and build resilience by enabling networks of mutual support to grow.
More and more people in the UK are struggling to afford the food that they need. One in five parents in London say that they have skipped meals so that their children could eat and between April and September 2016, 510,000 people received the three day emergency food parcels provided by Trussell Trust foodbanks. This is an increase of 10,000 on the year before. The Together Network works creatively in a host of ways to tackle food poverty, including: Working with local organisations to host Holiday Clubs for families whose children receive free school meals, providing expertise, advice and help to access financial provision to those setting up Food Banks, and running Slow Cooker Projects which teach people how to cook healthily on a budget using a slow cooker which is then given to the families at the end of the course.
Asset-based community development, or ABCD, is an approach to community development that uses the skills and capacities of local residents, the power of local associations, and the support of local institutions, to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future. This way of working can be found across the network in the way that we work as we seek to empower communities. ABCD is also used in specific projects such as Know Your Church, Know Your Neighbourhood which is a is a facilitated process designed to help churches think about themselves in relation to the wider community they seek to serve, and make prayerful and informed decisions about their mission in their local community.
Read more about Asset Based Community Development.
Read more about Know Your Church, Know your Neighbourhood.
Read a theological reflection of ABCD in our paper Fullness of Life Together.