ConnectingCrossgates is a new project, seeking to connect the church and community through partnership, working together for the good of Crossgates. By identifying needs in our area and encouraging groups to work together, ConnectingCrossgates is hoping to help bring blessing in new ways.
How did ConnectingCrossgates start?
About 18 months ago Churches Together in LS15 began to explore ways in which the churches in Crossgates could better work together both with each other and also with the community.
A community audit was carried out to discover what was working well, what needs there might be and how the churches could help. Kären Gray, who has been involved with Churches Together for over 10 years, was appointed to undertake the study.
Drawing on her experience managing a charity resourced by volunteers, including numerous business and voluntary organisations, and her coordination of the churches successful Crossgates Carnival, she is now working 12 hours a week to try to put the project into practice.
What have we discovered?
The main needs identified across the different agencies (Children's Centre/ youth services/ Crossgates Good Neighbours/ Schools etc) so far include: lack of provision for youth work, a large elderly population with limited resources (eg lunch clubs in the area reduced from three down to one), family/relationship/ parenting/debt issues and isolation/loneliness. The centrality of the Shopping Centre is a key part of the area's identity and discussions are on going with the centre manager about how the different groups might work together using this facility.
There is growing enthusiasm and interest across the churches to explore whether a community café/drop-in shared space might be possible. It would give an opportunity for people to talk and be listened to, to gain access to advice about existing organizations and to be helped to access support. Not only would it enable the churches to reach right into the heart of the community, but perhaps provide a safe way for people to enquire about faith.
What's been happening so far... ?
Is a new community café launched in September. Serving proper coffee, luxury hot chocolate and speciality teas, the atmosphere is very relaxed and everyone is made to feel welcome.
While babies & toddlers explore their own corner, some adults have been learning to knit, others sample the homemade cakes & scones, a few have brought homemade crafts to sell and there is even the opportunity to borrow a book from the "library” on parenting, relationships, debt, spirituality etc. People can leave a prayer in the prayer box and during fairtrade fortnight, a Traidcraft volunteer brought crafts, food and gave a talk about how buying fairtrade can help those who need it most.
So far about 10-15 people attend each week on Fridays, 9-11am in St. James Manston Parish Hall, Sandbed Lane, Crossgates LS15 8JH.
Those who are lonely are making new friends, a teenager is starting a craft business and others are asking questions about faith. From the tiniest baby to the most elderly retired person, this new venture seems to be scratching where people itch! Kären Gray says, "This experiment may help us to explore whether a community café/drop-in centre is really possible or needed. It's
just a café or a coffee morning, it's somewhere to meet, a place to find a listening ear and a chance to have a bit of time out at the end of the week."
John Smeaton Community College Paired Reading Scheme
40% of pupils at the soon to become an academy, John Smeaton Community College, have a reading age 18 months below their chronological age.
This desperate reality prompted new head teacher David Yates to start pairing teachers with pupils to read just 10 minutes a day.
When he mentioned the idea to Kären Gray, she offered to help find volunteers and one week later a new project had been born! 9 out of the 12 volunteers are gathered from local churches, demonstrating a real desire from Christians to put love into practice.
Every week now, over 40 children are being helped and there is a possibility of extending the scheme to include mentoring in the future. This is the first involvement of volunteers in the school for many years and it is wonderful to have an active Christian presence. Pray for more opportunities to share God's love in the school and for blessings on its staff and pupils.
How to get involved?
- If you are interested in getting involved in any way please contact Kären Gray 07985 035125 email@example.com
- Pray. Pray for Kären in her role as development worker. Pray for the project as a whole that God reveals new ways to bring community transformation, to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and develop unity and cooperation. Pray that in Crossgates we can find new opportunities to "Love God " and "Love one another” TOGETHER .
Kären Gray firstname.lastname@example.org