How Can The Church Help?
We asked the people we interviewed how the church can help them. Here are the themes we drew from the research:
VOLUNTEERING Many parts of the criminal justice system depend heavily on volunteers. This includes the Police, who recruit ‘specials’ and other volunteers to help them in their work. The courts rely on volunteers through the Citizens Advice Bureau to support and reassure witnesses. Here are some hints on how to get involved, please click here.
RAISING AWARENESS Churches have an opportunity to educate and inform their members about social issues, who can then pass the information on to the wider community.
FUNDRAISING Requests for funding was one of the strongest themes coming from our research. Many of the charities in the region rely on donations to provide their services. To encourage or facilitate giving in our churches is one way to address this need. Consistency and security of income helps charities to plan and to hire good staff –so annual commitments of funding may be welcome.
USE OF CHURCH BUILDINGS As well as a large pool of potential volunteers, another resource the Diocese may have easy access to is space. Church halls could be used by local charities or support groups. Churches can be ready to offer space for drug and alcohol addiction recovery groups; “there’s always a cry out for buildings that can be accessible for Narcotics Anonymous meetings.” Twelve-step groups are self-funding but the offer of free or very cheap meeting space is one way of providing support.
COMMUNITY WORK AND COHESION Probation officers described Church community work as essential, including youth work. Several agencies talked about how it can contribute positively to reduce the likelihood of crime in a neighbourhood, as well as providing pastoral support to both victims of crime and offenders. The fact that ‘official’ organisations are frequently distrusted by ex-offenders leaves a gap that the third sector and the faith community can fill.
AREAS FOR CAMPAIGNING There were several specific local issues that could be targets for change: Mental health services for prison leavers, Political engagement, Cohesion and complexity and Funding.
Find out more in the full report.