Latest News from The Barkers

Hi Friends,

We really appreciate all your love, prayers and support. You are a real life line for us, enabling so much to happen in and from Winson Green, Birmingham, UK.

This year is shaping up to be quite an amazing one, so please pray through our latest prayer and newsletter here if you can. Its found here. We certainly need all the help we can get!

Some big, latest news for us is that Anji has just put in her notice for her staffing role with Oasis Academy. Its another step off the cliff in faith for us. Being based in a local primary school was such a great way to start life in Winson Green, but we feel it is right to free Anji up to better share her unique passions and talents by leading her own organisation.

We want to enable Anji to fully lead Newbigin Community Trust (NewbiginCIO.wordpress.com) as CEO starting in May. Since we started NCT as a registered Charity in Winson Green in 2016 we have developed a great team of local Trustees and helped initiate over 20 community projects based on the gifts of local people here. These have included youth groups, Grow mental health support groups and social enterprises. This has all been done voluntarily and with help from staff of other organizations.  A real limit has been hit as to what can be done in Winson Green without NCT having a designated staff person with administration support able to see more capacity building programs emerge. Anji has recently become Newbigin Community Trust’s CEO and when released full-time in that role will not only develop the existing local partnerships, but pilot two new programs that could make a real difference in engaging community and church life together. These two new initiatives are:

1) Worth Families mentoring/be-friending program to support vulnerable families at risk of losing their children to child protection. Through our work in the community we have seen that there has been cuts to all early help services, and a recent report showed in Winson Green there has been a 57% cut to all services. As a result single mums suffering depression, families experiencing domestic violence and children of drug using parents are unable to receive any preventative or supportive help. This leaves problems to increase to a point that children are being removed and then left to spend the rest of their lives in foster care. At Newbigin House we have been taking these children and families in as regular respite care. This has been noticed by services such as Police and Children’s Services and we are being asked to do more and more of this. We would need a Anji in place freed up from her fulltime paid work to be able to manage the expansion of this and the training of carers and volunteers.

2) Rlabs, a  local volunteer scheme  aimed at encouraging local leaders and volunteers in their projects and social enterprises to earn cyber money that can then be used locally at the school and uniform shops, local grocers, the local cinema, holiday and school trips. (The software and supervision is being provided from an Rlabs in South Africa.) This allows asylum seekers and single parents, for example, to work for good in their neighbourhood but also receive some rewards for their families. We hope this will also serve to support local business and further enhance the social cohesion work that we are doing engaging people from multi-ethnic and Multifaith communities.

Also late news. We would appreciate prayers too as Father Julian (our Priest-in-Charge and my CoE boss for my role as Pioneer Minister) announced last Sunday that he will move on from our Parishes, in May too. Please pray for Father Julian in his new adventure in another part of Birmingham and guidance as the options for a new Priest-in-Charge for us emerges.  Pray too for our new Fresh Expression Congregation as we find our feet.

Change is constant, but please keep standing with us!

Blessings,

Ash

PS. You might have seen Anji on BBC national news last week advocating for vulnerable families and children! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42891705

PPS  I was quoted too from our Singapore gathering at UN’s Urban Thinkers Campus in this article. http://saltandlight.sg/news/un-engages-faith-communities-in-new-urban-agenda/

PPPS! If would like to support us financially there has never been a better time! http://newbiginhouse.uk/donate/