Every year All Saints' actively supports a different charity - alternately a domestic and overseas organisation - with many in the congregation participating in a wide range of fund raising activities including: sales of produce, sponsored walks, runs and marathons; pub quizzes and wine tastings. We welcome any suggestions and participation.
Our annual meeting as a Parish this year had to be delayed from its normal April timing to the 30th of October because of the Covid crisis. That meant we couldn’t decide what our Parish Charity for this year would be until then, leaving us with less than half the time we would usually have to give to it, as well as not being able to put on all the social events which raise so much of the money we are usually able to give. We live in strange times.
At the same time, never have people in our local community been so in need. While the Government’s furlough scheme has taken the edge off the poverty that would have resulted, people’s lives have none the less been hugely disrupted, and those whose day-to-day lives are nearer the edge than others of us, have suffered disproportionately.
That makes the decision we took at that meeting to make our Parish Charity from now until Lent particularly appropriate. The Lewisham Foodbank provides immediate, practical help for the vulnerable people and families who are struggling in the teeth of this crisis, making a vital difference to their lives.
Please find attached to this special Newsletter a video message from the Revd. Carol Bostridge, one of the Foodbank’s managers, explaining the work of the Charity, and how it is responding to the crisis. Additional information about the Foodbank is available online.
We can’t do what we would normally do as a Parish community to raise money for our Charity this year, and we haven’t the time we would usually have to give the generous amounts we yearly raise. That makes a deliberate and committed response from us all in the time left, all the more important. Set out below are the Charity’s Bank details. Please consider giving as much money as you can to benefit people who are on the actual bread-line this winter. Please consider making that donation in the form of regular giving.
By doing those things we will be, as a Parish, breaking out of the isolation this virus is imposing upon us, and determinedly acting out the Gospel in our local community.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Fr. Nicholas Fr. William
Bank details Sort Code: 40-06-34. Account number: 01411616 Our reference: ‘ASB 21’
Address by Rev Carol Bostridge, Chief Operating Officer, Lewisham Foodbank
All Saints’ Blackheath, Epiphany II, 17 January 2021
Good Morning, I am Revd. Carol Bostridge; a regional minister for the London Baptists and Chief Operating Officer for Lewisham Foodbank. At present my time is split equally between these roles. I look after the 50 Baptist churches in Greenwich, Lewisham, Bromley, Bexley and Southwark (a bit like a Bishop?!) and I oversee the work of Lewisham Foodbank.
I started life as a Maths teacher in Peckham before sensing a call into ministry. Then, for 14 years, I was the pastor at Crofton Park Baptist Church. It was around 2013 that I knew that God had something new for me, something that would involve working in the community with churches of different denominations. I was stirred by the words of Jesus, recorded in Luke 4, as he reads from the scroll of Isaiah;
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”
So in 2014 I left Crofton Park and started working part time for Lewisham Foodbank and Lewisham street pastors. The Baptist role came later.
Lewisham Foodbank itself had opened in 2012, as a number of churches came together to respond to the food poverty in our borough. By January 2019 we were open six days a week for a couple of hours each day, ready to help those who had been sent to us by agencies around the borough.
Our venues were St James C of E in New Cross, an Elim Pentecostal church in Bellingham, the Tabernacle in Lewisham and a London City Mission hall in Forest Hill. We had two part time staff and a team of volunteers. All the food was donated or purchased with donated money.
If you had come to our centres a year ago you would have been warmly welcomed and offered refreshments. A volunteer would have sat with you, put you at your ease, listened carefully and helped you find other sources of support. Your food parcel would have been prepared based on your family size and dietary needs, hopefully including a treat item as well as basic long-life food and toiletries. We would have also offered to pray for you. Many, many clients appreciated this offer, and there were tears as people realised that they were loved. We helped around 150 clients and their families each week, we did not deliver food.
A year later and so much has changed. Many of our volunteers had to step down due to their age or health concerns. Three of our centres closed and back in April we were a delivery only service. During that period demand has grown to three times pre-Covid levels. Many people who never thought they would ever need a foodbank are now asking for help.
We have new centres based in Salvation Army halls in Deptford, Lewisham and Catford as well as St John the Baptist Church near Downham. Our Forest Hill site is now a packing and delivery site as well as a pick-up point. We have four members of staff and over 150 volunteers each doing a shift each week in small bubbles. All food is still donated or purchased with donated funds; as the height of the first peak I worked out we were distributing £8,000 worth of food each week. Lewisham Council and many local groups are working with us as together we seek to meet the needs of those who haven’t enough food to eat.
Our God cares for the poor; as the prophet Isaiah says;
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Though so much has changed we are still being good news to the poor; by providing food, support and signposting, and showing people that they are loved. I, and others, have opportunities to speak of the God who called us to this work.
Parcels are packed with care and distributed with a smile, phone callers listen and reassure. Donors continue to be generous; prayer teams pray (thank you for your role in this, we know we are held).
We long and pray and campaign for the day when we won’t need foodbanks. But until that day we, with your help, will continue to bring food and God’s love to those in need.
Past Parish Charities
At the ACPM (the annual AGM of the church), charities are proposed to members of the congregation by those who have a link with or an interest in the work of the particular charities. This is then voted on and the winner will then be the focus of fundraising activities until Lent the following year. The proposer of the charity will take the lead in organising and co-ordinating events, which usually are wide-ranging and often great fun.
Charities which we have supported and in which we take a continuing interest include:
Also: St Raphael's Hospital, Koroguwe, jetcharity.org, Diocese of Lesotho (no web link) Dimbleby Cancer Care
Our other charity work
While the main focus is the parish charity, there are other charities that are supported during the year, for example, the Robes Project, when the clergy and young people sleep out at Southwark Cathedral, and during Lent, the church supports the Bishop’s projects chosen both here in the Diocese of Southwark and in the link Dioceses in Zimbabwe.