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The Community Stars  

In 2017, as part of our Community Awards competition we asked Methodist Churches across the country to let us know how they were reaching out to communities and making a difference to people’s lives. 

The response to the competition was overwhelming, as so many churches sent in details of ingenious and life-changing projects. It was proof of the community spirit prevalent amongst the Methodist church communities, and showed that Methodism is taking an active stand in society, providing support, fellowship and guidance to people across the UK. 

It’s good to share

One of the key aims of our competition was to share ideas across the Methodist Connexion and inspire similar projects at other churches.

Sometimes, all it takes is a great idea and a band of willing volunteers to be able to reach out and offer vital services and support to people beyond those four walls. So we are sharing more of the projects we hear about with you, and hope they continue to inspire more churches. 

Simply click on the Community Stars stories below to read a summary of each community project. 

Feeling inspired?

You can download a copy of the stories which have inspired you the most, simply click the download button under each story.

Each wonderful story includes a checklist showing you what you might need to create something similar at your church.
  • A project of two halves

    Like many urban areas, Bournemouth has seen a sharp rise in the number of people sleeping rough in recent years. Bournemouth Churches Alongside Rough Sleepers (BCARS) is offering a number of services to help people get off the streets, find accommodation and build their skills.

    Every winter, churches like St George’s in Bournemouth open their premises to offer people living on the streets a safe place to sleep. St George’s is also involved in Half Time, a project that gives rough sleepers the chance to have a shower and use a washing machine and tumble dryer. Volunteers are on hand to offer support with housing, benefits and connecting with families once again.

    The final piece of the jigsaw is 2nd HALF, a project that gives people a structured programme with work opportunities. Two days a week, people who have been living on the streets can come along and learn work skills in a newly opened café.

    The services are making a huge difference to the community and to St George’s itself. Members of the congregation actively hand out BCARS cards to rough sleepers, signposting where people can go to find help.

  • A recipe for success

    When Hylda Emsden of Trinity Methodist Church heard that clients of the local foodbank weren’t always sure how to cook the ingredients they received, she came up with an ingenious solution. 

    Hylda got together with other volunteers from churches across the region to offer cookery classes to anyone who wanted to come along. 

    The group aims to cover a huge variety of foods and ingredients, including main meals, desserts, soups and cakes. All are low cost, easy to prepare and nourishing, and there’s always plenty of practical advice on offer. 

    The cookery classes are run in partnership with a number of churches in the area, and all are funded by the churches themselves.

    The courses have been so popular that they have been running ever since. 

  • A unique approach for uniforms

    For many young families, the rising cost of living means they have to decide between buying new school uniforms for their children or putting food on the table. 

    St Luke’s Methodist Church is part of a group of churches that have come together to create Free Uniform for Secondary Schools (FUSS), a project that supplies supply school clothing for families living on The Wirral Peninsula. 

    Families can come along to a FUSS community hub or the group’s shop in Birkenhead, where they can pick out the items they need. Parents of secondary school children can also request clothes online via the FUSS website. 

    The initiative has already inspired a number of similar projects across the North and North East of the UK, and it has brought churches together across The Wirral too.

  • A vibrant history lesson

    Leyburn is a beautiful market town in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. One member of the congregation wanted to make sure the history of the town was captured before it vanished forever.

    The project involved talking to people across the community to record their memories and find old photographs of Leyburn through the years. Some of the more elderly people were fairly housebound and welcomed the visit and the chance to chat about their memories.

    The information and photographs were then all brought together on a number of A2 sheets and exhibited in the Methodist Chapel. Visitors could use post-it notes to add their own comments. The exhibition also included a display showing many of the weddings that had taken place in the churches and chapels of Leyburn.

    The whole display will now soon be digitized and housed in the local library, ensuring that the social history of Leyburn and the stories of all the local businesses that worked in the area can live on.

  • A world of flavours

    When Port St Mary Methodist Church on the Isle of Man needed to raise funds to modernise facilities, the congregation decided to reach out to the community for help.

    The church was originally known as Mt Tabor, and the congregation drew on that heritage to create ‘Tabor on Thursday’, a series of evening events designed to encourage people into the church.

    The events each take a theme based on a particular country, and guests enjoy a two-course meal with a non-alcoholic drink, followed by tea and coffee. Each regionally-themed meal is cooked by a professionally trained chef, and the food is always very well received.

    After the meal, a short talk or musical performance rounds off the evening. The church also hosts regular film nights and talks. Since the church has thrown open its doors wide, more and more people are becoming involved, and the congregation is already planning ahead to the next season of events.

  • Our daily bread

    Walk down Bold Street in Central Liverpool on a Tuesday or Thursday lunchtime and if you’re lucky you might catch the aroma of freshly baked bread. Twice a week, the Bread Church meets to bake bread, worship and offer companionship, right in the heart of Liverpool.

    The Bread Church meets in a flat above a shop, and anyone is invited. The church has played host to everyone from Big Issue sellers to Bishops, from asylum seekers to Archdeacons and from the powerless to Presidents of Conference.

    Baking bread enables people to relax, chat, tell stories and simply be together. Everyone is given time to speak, and people can participate as much or as little as they want to.

    It’s an idea that’s certainly catching on. The church is regularly full, and is now on the look out for new premises. The idea has taken hold internationally too, and there are now Bread Churches in both Stockholm and in Soweto.

  • A Helping Hand indeed

    To raise funds for its vital work, Hyde & Denton Circuit decided to open a charity shop on Hyde high street in Greater Manchester. Stock is donated by church members and the community, and the shop sells everything from clothing to books and small electrical goods.

    One major part of Helping Hand’s philosophy is that every item should be low-cost. The shop enables young families to come and buy baby clothes for as little as 30p an item, providing much-needed support to people on low incomes.

    Helping Hand also helps give people the chance to learn new skills and experience in the retail environment. From young people starting on their career through to people living with disabilities, Helping Hand has trained over 70 people so far.

    With the trainees, volunteers and shoppers, there’s always a vibrant atmosphere at Helping Hand, and the shop has become a cornerstone of the community. People enjoy coming along to support the church, even if they are not churchgoers themselves.

  • Support you can bank on

    Located on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland in County Durham, Woodhouse Close Church Community Centre is helping people of all ages. Its Crisis Intervention Project offers vital support to people who are experiencing extreme hardship, financial or domestic crises.

    Members of the church congregations across the area donate items for the foodbank, and when there is a particular need then a call goes out for more support.

    People can also visit the Community Centre for advice on benefits or housing, with specialist advisors available at certain times of the week. More and more people come along for support, or sometimes just to feel part of something.

    The Church Centre also provides a furniture project for people in crisis, such as people fleeing domestic violence or having to move somewhere at short notice. The project has become a vital part of the community, and a number of people who have been helped by Woodhouse are now volunteering to help in turn.

    Talk to our team

    Winner of the grand prize revealed

    We are proud to announce that the winner of the grand prize, claiming the £5,000 prize is Burrington Methodist Church, North Devon.  
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