2. Serving our Community

The church is there, not just for itself or its members, but for the whole world. Our bit of the world is the Braunstone estate, and we know we have a bottom-line commitment to that estate. Trouble is, that’s the commitment that gets forgotten or neglected most easily, when we’re stressed or stretched!

It isn’t in the Mission Action Plan, but church members have a long tradition of involvement in the local community – historically including school governors and board members of the Braunstone Community Association, and now including the Residents’ Network, Local History Group, “Talk Time” with elderly people, the Braunstone Artists’ Group, and especially Braunstone Foodshare, started by St Peter’s and now run by a committee of local people at St Peter’s, the United Reformed Church and the Brite Centre. We distribute food bags to about 100 local people every fortnight – it shouldn’t be necessary in a civilised society, but those who come to collect them (more than half in work) show that it is needed.

We take pride in our local environment. St Peter’s members were involved back in 2004 in the refurbishment of Church Field, and we pioneered the “Clean up Braunstone” initiative, now led by the City Council Parks and Gardens team. Our MAP reminds us that we need to practise what we preach, and keep our immediate environment (churchyard and car park) tidy as well.

Although the New Deal for Communities (2000-2010) did a lot to improve the buildings and morale of the Braunstone Estate, poverty still stalks the area. Debt is a real issue, and we are part of an initiative led by another church in our Mission Partnership to provide training to local people in managing their money, and (when we have the proper training ourselves) to give individual advice to people and families in debt.

The Bishop’s Poverty Commission in 2014 revealed how valuable it can be for people facing poverty to be able to come together and share their stories. Churches can be a welcoming place, where that sharing can be encouraged. St Peter’s has started “Open Door”, when we sit in church two mornings a week and invite people to drop in for a drink and a chat. The aim is to have information that can signpost people to the help they need, and also to be hospitable to those who simply wish to talk.

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