‘What hurts the most’
This article first appeared in the May edition of Itchen Valley News
‘What hurts the most?’
I guess there are going to be two sorts of people reading this article: one group will be able to answer this question immediately – whether its bereavement, loneliness, a broken marriage, unemployment, debt, career change, challenging children or children in difficulty, not having children, the impact of addiction, mental health issues, empty nests, fear of death or something else – many of us carry great suffering throughout our lives. And it hurts a lot….
Then there will be the other group – those who say ‘actually things are going pretty well thank you…I’m not sure this is really one for me Alex’ – but please don’t stop reading – because you could participate in something which the Itchen Valley Parish is doing this Summer which could completely revolutionise the lives of some of your neighbours. You can be part of the solution!
We live in a beautiful place with many wonderful people who are very supportive of their neighbours. But when everyone knows everyone, it’s sometimes difficult to talk about the challenges that we face in life. We don’t want people gossiping about our problems. We prefer the stiff upper lip. Privacy is very important to us. But sometimes that can result in us feeling that no-one cares about our problems – they have problems of their own we think. What can anyone do anyway?
The Church is here to help. And we can really make a difference. But unless we know the challenges that our parishioners are facing, then we end up being the answer to a question that no-one is asking!
So this June and July, we are following the example of a Church in rural Norfolk in conducting an anonymous survey of the entire parish in which we will be asking one simple question: ‘What hurts the most?’ We will be trying to knock on every door in the parish – all 500 of them – and asking you to complete a card asking this simple question, to put it in a blank envelope that we will give you (to ensure anonymity) and to hand it back to whoever has visited you.
Once we get all the cards back we will feed the responses into a computer program which will then tell us the most frequently mentioned issues in our community, in order of priority.
This will then guide the teaching that we do in the church over the next year and any courses that we might run in the community. We will have listened to the priorities of the community and be guiding what we do accordingly. And the example in Norfolk shows that this can make a transformational difference to many people’s lives but without anyone having to reveal anything to anyone except anonymously.
So if you are in that second group of fortunate people who feel no pain, or even if you are in the first group, but want to help – we really need your assistance! We need your help in knocking on the doors of the houses in the parish in your village and handing out the survey cards and collecting the completed cards – there will be a little bit of training before hand and then all we will need from you is one evening during June or July. It might be just the thing to go round with your children if they are still at home. Just drop me an email and I will let you have more details firstname.lastname@example.org
If you receive a knock at the door during this period from one of your neighbours please don’t set the dogs on us. If you have a sign saying ‘no unsolicited calls’ we wont visit you unless you let us know that you want to take part – you don’t have to get involved but it would be wonderful if you would – if you are suffering from something then I guess there will be others as well and you may well be helping someone by completing the card and setting the priorities for the Itchen Valley Parish for the next year or so. Please do help and lives will be transformed!
Revd Alex Pease