Over the past year I’ve been carrying out a project to make 20 films – yes 20 – about fighting poverty here in the UK. The scale of the task was a little crazy given that I work part-time and also have to travel overseas with some regularity, but as the project draws to a close I can honestly say it’s been brilliant.
The idea behind the project was to tell the stories of some of the UK projects Tearfund has supported over the past 15 years (you might have noticed that we’re much better at talking about the overseas work), and to pool their wisdom and experience to help others (you!). And so I have spent a year visiting some extraordinary and courageous and, frankly, deeply spiritual (but-all-in-different-ways) people.
[The following links will take you to each film].
There was Hope Corner in Runcorn where a tiny band of visionaries are revolutionising education and expanding the horizons of their local young people; there was the impressive Springfield Project in Birmingham, working out of a church and ministering to the predominantly Muslim community that surrounds them, who so impressed the government that they were petitioned several times to become a Sure Start Centre. We went to Croydon where Reachin’ Higher have been working creatively and energetically with young people for more than ten years, rewriting the reputations of the rioters. We headed out to Green Pastures and met the legendary Pastor Pete who introduced us their vision of helping the church end homelessness in this country (they have the best website – they won an award which confirms it) through inventive, entrepreneurial tactics. We strolled across the hills of Derbyshire with Hazel from Good News Family Care and listened to the stories of families who had been restored and healed through their compassion and faithfulness (and horse-riding).
Then we stopped and took a deep breath. And had a summer holiday (ahem, went to film in Thailand and Australia and then did a month of shows at the Edinburgh festival).
Next it was out to Northern Ireland to hear how Knocknagoney Parish Church had taken a lead in transforming their community, seeing crime figures fall from the highest to some of the lowest in Belfast; then onto Cornwall, one of the poorest regions in Europe, to encounter the humility and steadfastness of DISC, opening their doors daily to vulnerable adults and looking for ways to help. Just up the road in Liskeard was Greenbank Care with a vision to care for the enormous, often isolated, elderly population in Cornwall, and we saw dancing and games and hugging and love across the generations. Closer to home, we spent a day in Ilford at the beautiful Welcome Centre (oh no! this is the only unfinished film!), a drop-in Day Centre, where local councillors and former clients were queueing up to tell us how special the place was, and we were blown away by the passion and integrity of Sonia and her team.
And then the last one. How amazing it was to travel the length of the country (apologies to Wales & Scotland who we didn’t reach this time) and to end up on my own doorstep. The final project we visited was Pecan in Peckham, where half the volunteers I met came from my own church. It was a bit like The Wizard of Oz where you go on a long journey only to end up back at home (having made many strange new friends and learnt all kinds of things). And perhaps it was a little nudge to get stuck in locally.
So I’ll end this post by introducing you to our local project:
The observant amongst you will have noticed that I only listen ten films. The ten are part of a project called The Ten Keys, and each film is devoted to a different piece of advice for running your own project. For more info, have a look here.