Together Lancashire is managed and run locally, responding to local needs.We support church leaders and members, community and youth workers and voluntary activists to tackle the effects of poverty and build networks so that people can work more effectively together.. Our board has representatives from each of the partners and includes people with a wide range of skills and contacts in church, business, local government and the voluntary sector. It is chaired by Ken Wales and the board secretary is Ed Saville.
Currently the focus is on these key issues:
1. Networking, sharing experience and support for church projects and activities at the local level.
In Preston and South Ribble we are building on the existing work of Preston Christian Action Network (PCAN). Details of their activities, which include work on local homelessness, food poverty, unemployment, listening and counselling ministries and local youth and community work in deprived neighbourhoods are found on the website www.pcan.org.uk. News of events, activities, research and resources is regularly posted on the PCAN BLOG and via a Facebook Group which currently has 92 members. In November 2014 we worked in partnerhsip with Preston City Council, and Preston Faith Forum to put on a "Faith in Finance Event" which brought together about fifty key people from the different sectors.
In Blackpool we spent 2013 building a network of churches and organisations who are committed to tackling poverty together. We have concentrated on food poverty issues and made links with existing networks such as the Blackpool Homeless Partnership and Churches Together in Blackpool. We have established an online presence through the Together Lancashire in Blackpool Blog and associated Facebook group. Our biggest achievement has been the work to establish the Blackpool Food Partnership . We also worked with Blackpool Council drawing together faith leaders and the public sector for a day event in November 2013. As an outcome of this we continue to work with the Council to tackle local issues and are involved in building a map and directory of the faith based projects in the town. Among our priorities for 2015 are helping churches develop and run job clubs and online centres, and link with the Better Start programme aimed at families with pre school children. We now have a volunteer networker leading our work in Blackpool, Rev. Dick Cartmell who can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01253 590083
In Fleetwood we have intitiated fully ecumenical networks of church leaders and activists which bring together people committed to feeding the hungry, helping the unemployed find jobs and offering debt and welfare rights advice and advocacy. Fleetwood Christian Action Network now operates under its own leadership and can be contacted via Pastor Steve Carling at Emmanuel Church
In Morecambe we have worked with partners in the Morecambe Churches Forum to strengthen their social action work. In November 2014 we held a Faith in the Community Event bringing together over 90 people from churches, the Councils, police and the voluntary sector. The video for the event is avaliable here . We also helped produce a listing of all the known church linked social action projects in Morecambe. All this has come about as a result of our Together Lancashire meetings in the town with most of the work being done by Michl Kohl of Morecambe Community Church / West End Impact.
In Lancaster we have attended meetings of and keep in touch with existing networking initiatives such as Churches Together in Lancaster and encouraged projects such as food-banks and homelessness projects.
In Burnley we are working towards building a network and supporting a number of individual projects including helping them to get funding. Among them is church related community work on the Stoops estate and a new part-time Christian adult learning worker associated with UNLOCK. We have a web presence through the Together Lancashire in East Lancashire Blog and Facebook Group.
In Pendle and Accrington we are convening meetings of local church leaders and activists and supporting food bank initiatives.
In Blackburn we are helping to convene meetings of church leaders an supporting food bank initiatives, and churches working with asylum seekers. We have good links with a Christian medical practice and have helped them to partner with a local church in a Parish Nursing inititiative. We are currently working with the churches on a faith audit project aiming to document and promote all the faith based social action activities in the area.
Across much of Lancashire we work in a context of ethnic and religious diversity and have built strong links with local forums of faith, Near Neighbours projects, and other interfaith activities. We also have good links with many secular Voluntary and Community Sector networks and organisations and are working to strengthen our relationships with the various local authorities and other statutory agencies.
2. Raising awareness of the issues of poverty through…
3. Drawing Together Church Leaders and Christian Activists who work on Deprived Housing Estates
We have identified many parishes and other churches across the county who serve large social housing estates, and have brought their staff together to share frustrations, encouragement and ideas. We have linked them to the National Estates Churches Network and number of folk from Lancashire attended their conference in Manchester in October 2013. In March 2014 we hosted a day event in Preston with NECN's co-ordiantor Bishop Laurie Green as keynote speaker. Over 50 people from across Lancashire attended and were most encouraged.
4. Co-ordinating and supporting food poverty initiatives…
We are building a partnership to improve the supply chain of food throughout the county, encouraging the sharing of good practice and the signposting of clients to other relevant services, and advising on funding and partnership opportunities. We have identified 30 different foodbanks in the county. We are also in touch with a number of soup kitchens and community café projects and have helped recruit volunteers from churches and communities to work in them. We are now working with Lancashire County Council in our Feeding Lancashire Together project.
5. Helping Church Linked projects access funding
Our support from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation allowed us to identify and provide funding for 6-10 new church linked anti poverty projects each year up to 2015. We have also helped several churches to identify and apply successfully for funding from the Church and Community Fund, CUF's Together Grants as well as other trusts and public sector funding.
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