As followers of Christ, we show our love for him and our appreciation at what he has done for us, by serving others; as the very challenging passage in Matthew 25:34-36 below shows us.
Today in our service of Parish Communion, we had one in a series of talks given in our services called ‘Making a difference’ giving examples of how we might do this. Examples of how we might get our ‘hands dirty’ and help in what can sometimes be the very difficult circumstances of other peoples’ lives.
Some time ago we had a talk about Winchester Street Pastors;
and then a talk on Prison Fellowship by Chief Executive Peter Holloway
As a result of these talks, Theo and Judith are now Street Pastors and Naomi is now a volunteer on the Sycamore Tree Course run by Prison Fellowship at HMP Winchester. If you speak to any of them they will tell you how immensely blessed they have been by doing this volunteering and you are bound to be affected by their enthusiasm! They have got their hands dirty and been blessed in return.
Today, we had a service focusing on the work of the Winchester Basics Bank and Winchester Churches Night Shelter. Gerry Stacey who has been a volunteer at the Winchester Churches Night Shelter http://www.wcns.org.uk for many years spoke and then introduced Mike Slinn the Chair of the Winchester Basics Bank https://winchesterbasicsbank.co.uk who spoke about their work as follows:
Talk to Itchen Valley Parish
Winchester Basics Bank, was set up by Churches Together in Winchester 15 years ago as a registered charity.
Our purpose is to provide food, toiletries and clothing to individuals and families in emergency need. We are entirely non-judgemental; we help anyone in urgent need. The range of people who are served is wide, from the single homeless person, to families with children and to elderly people. We believe that we make a vital contribution to the relieving of hardship that those in an emergency situation face and so we are supporting social cohesion in the Winchester community.
Clients are referred to Winchester Basics Bank through some seventy referral agencies, including Winchester City Council Housing Department, Hampshire County Council social services, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Trinity Centre, local housing associations, health visitors, probation officers and other local charitable groups and several churches. These referral agencies issue electronic vouchers to people they know who are in urgent emergency need, and these vouchers are exchanged by Winchester Basics Bank for a week’s food supply and also for articles of clothing when needed.
We provide the emergency food and clothing from our Milland Road Centre and food from our two satellite branches. The Milland Road Centre is open on Tuesdays and Fridays. Our two satellite branches are at St. Barnabas Church in Weeke, open on Thursdays, and at St. Luke’s Church in Stanmore, open on Fridays.
Thanks to the generosity of local people in providing food, since May 2018 we have been able to expand our provision from providing 5-days of emergency food per week for each voucher to currently providing 7-days of emergency food per week.
We are also very grateful for the donations of clothing following an appeal we made in December 2018. As a result, we have been able to dedicate a room in our Milland Road Centre to clothing including coats and boots/shoes.
The number of people in emergency need in Winchester in any year is surprisingly high. During 2018 we served food and clothing to 1,411 individuals including children. This is an increase of 11% on 2017. To maintain our intention of being an emergency service, our general rule is not to accept more than 6 vouchers from any client during a rolling 12-month period. The average number of weeks of vouchers for our clients is 1.8.
We record the reasons given for the need for emergency food. These are varied, reflecting the different situations in which people find themselves. Prominent reasons are delays in receiving benefits, lack of income due to such matters as losing a job, personal sickness or sickness of a relative, short-term debt issues, relationship breakdown/domestic abuse, and household crises.
At Christmas time we supplement our emergency food provision with Christmas food packs and toys.
We also operate a School Holiday Lunch Scheme is also operated for Pupil Premium children referred to us by local schools. This ensures that children who receive free lunches during school term time also receive food for lunch during the summer holiday period. We provide a recipe booklet together with the food items to enable parents to provide healthy meals for their children. We served on average 65 children during each week of the holiday period.
We are fortunate to receive food donations from generous people at a variety of sources: there are regular collection points at many local churches and local supermarkets for example Waitrose Stockbridge Road,Co-op at Alresford ,both Winchester branches of Sainsbury’s,Tesco with the Fairshare scheme and Abel and Cole in Romsey provide fresh fruit and vegetables. We buyother fresh food products such as meat, cheese, butter and eggs at a reduced price from FareShare.
We need to raise some £30,000 each year to cover the cost of services from a range of benefactors including local churches and businesses. We also run our own fundraising efforts. For example on Saturday 21st September, we will be offering a quiz night at Christchurch attended by the Mayor of Winchester and our President Dean Catherine with Kevin Ashman of BBC Eggheads acting as our Quizmaster.
We could not provide our emergency service without the support of your and other churches and we are immensely thankful for that support. If you would like to help then can I suggest three ways…
- consider volunteering to help with the collecting, sorting and distribution of food. We have some 70 volunteers and we have a lot of fun working together and wearing this stylish outfit Further information and an application form is on our website and is described in our leaflet
- perhaps consider making a financial contribution and also
- consider collecting food perhaps particularly at Harvest Festival time
If you would like to be a volunteer at the Winchester Basics Bank or the Winchester Churches Nightshelter please do contact them at the website addresses above and please do let me know so that you can have an opportunity to tell us of your experiences in one of our services and we can pray for your work as a volunteer.
Matthew 25: 31-46 The Judgment of the Nations
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 25:31–26:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Our next Making a Difference talk will be on the work of Christians against Poverty (CAP) and will be given at some stage in the Autumn.