When I invited contributions for a June Bulletin it felt a bit like Noah sending out a bird from the ark to see if the flood was beginning to subside! Not surprisingly there’s not a lot to add to the excellent updates from all the various activities in the May Bulletin. Though at least the response was more like that of the dove who returned with an olive leaf in its beak, rather than that of the raven who didn’t return at all or the dove who returned with nothing! So here are those ‘olive leaves’ – news from Eden Gate about Night Shelter, and from Amazing Grace Spaces and The Bridge, plus a couple of other items. I’ll also circulate again the May Bulletin as most of its information about the other activities is still relevant and of interest.
Eden Gate and Night Shelter
We are extremely grateful to those of you who continue to uphold us in prayer and/or continue to support us through financial giving in this difficult time of Covid-19. In April we were all forced to close our doors or reduce our services. This had a direct impact on night shelter which we closed two weeks early and placed all guests into hotel accommodation. Additionally, we suspended all drop-in services as well as “Sunday Munch” activities. At the start of the lockdown Welsh Government provided £10 million to accommodate rough sleepers in temporary accommodation using hotels and B&B premises. In Newport, this strategy proved to be effective for most people; sadly, some people have remained on the streets, but they have appreciated knowing that the church has been there for them.
The pull-back from our normal service has not been without heartache. However, we did not stop moving forward to support the vulnerable of Newport. At Eden Gate we were able to regroup with The Wallich, Olive Branch and Newport City Council to provide meals that we have been delivering to the people placed in hotels and B&B’s, often without cooking facilities. In the coming weeks we may also look to introduce our drop-in services, within social distancing guidelines and with limited numbers of people.
Katie Graham, our night shelter project manager has recently been re-deployed to work alongside The Wallich and Pobl as part of a rough sleepers task force. This project provides floating support to verified rough sleepers who have been placed in temporary accommodation, aiming to keep them in that accommodation after lockdown finishes. Katie will also be involved in supporting those who find it harder to engage with services, to develop new skills/routines and to access more permanent accommodation. We are delighted about this new development; please join us in praying for Katie as she continues to be a witness for Christ amongst professionals and the homeless community in Newport.
As for the running of the summer shelter at Eden Gate, it looks as though it won’t be needed this year. However, we are working closely with Newport City Council and other partners to identify the needs of those who are still on the streets and, if required, will look to reopen night shelter when it is safe to do so.
We have all faced challenges during the lockdown, none more so than the homeless community. The way homelessness services are delivered in Newport has radically changed, but this change has provided a great opportunity to achieve the goal of ending homelessness in Newport and indeed across the UK. Therefore, we hope to see an increase in people securing long term housing solutions and overcoming homelessness for good.
Although it is highly unlikely our summer shelter will open, we are planning to continue our winter partnership with local churches this year. This is reliant upon how the situation will be in November and whether Church partners feel they can safely deliver a night shelter service. Please continue to pray for Eden Gate, both in regard to the new short-term plan and work, and the bigger questions for the winter. Thank you again for all your prayer and financial support. Marc (www.edengate.org.uk / 01633 243235)
Amazing Grace Spaces
We’ve been able to continue to work throughout the pandemic in various ways. There are three ladies in Grace House supported accommodation in Newport. It’s a real privilege to be part of what God is doing at Grace House and it has been amazing to walk with these ladies through their recovery in lockdown.
Here’s one of their stories in brief. We met a lady in prison in December who, sadly, had been in and out of prison – eighteen releases but none with accommodation, so each release ended in returning to prison. We offered her a home at Grace House and she came in at the beginning of April and has settled in well. She’s given her life to Jesus, is doing an Alpha course and is asking many questions about Christian faith. We’ve only been open since December; there have been some challenges, but God is at the heart of this home and we are seeing miracles happening.
More accommodation is needed for those coming out of prison who are homeless or leaving rehabilitation programs with no accommodation. Please pray with us about this and consider if your church could partner with us to fill Grace House and open more houses, pushing the boundaries to find alternative ways of offering accommodation. For more information contact [email protected] / 01633 439100 / 07703 334075.
We are now able to access our premises, to pick up mail and do some admin, but we cannot begin to see clients for possibly some time. We are hoping to start on-line counselling in the near future. Our students have received training, as have students applying to us for placement in 20/21 year.
The redevelopment company – Loftco – have now replaced NCC as our landlords and have told us that we may need to be out of our premises in the next 4-5 months. Even with on-line counselling, we will still need an office and possibly a counselling room. Please pray for us to find a new home. And could we please again ask the churches to consider any property you might have – houses, halls, rooms – which you might be able to make available to us? (01633 258729 / [email protected])
Wednesday 22nd June 7.15 – 8.30pmOnlinePrayer Meeting for Newport
One regular event which is still taking place is the monthly prayer meeting for Newport, led by Wesley Harris online. Contact Wesley for details of how to join in [email protected] / 07974 821991.
Some news from Community House
Community House in Eton Road (NP19 OBL) is part of the Presbyterian Church in Wales (United Reformed Church). Like many churches, they’ve been able to use various resources to keep in touch with their local community – my thanks to Marilyn Priday for this account of what they’ve been doing.
We have been having regular Zoom meetings where we have been able to get Community Leaders in touch with people who are in need of help with food parcels, computers and internet access for children. Rahila Hamed of Eyst, Fateha Ahmed and Roon Adams from ‘Me in Mind’, and Robert Muza, who is a Community Connector, have been able to contact many people in this way.
We are also holding regular meetings through Heather, with Community House users. Four different Christian churches besides Community House have been involved in this – a Caribbean church, an Ethiopian/Eritrean church, a Slovakian church and another Eastern European church). These meetings provide information about what help is available and what is allowed or not during the current situation, with speakers who are working on different aspects of the various needs. This has been organised by Ingrid Wilson, a church member and the Acting Chair of ‘Community House Eton Road’ charity. Ingrid is our Ecumenical Officer. Most of the people attending Community House, including the four churches mentioned above, are from BAME Communities or from Eastern Europe. As you probably know, Covid-19 has hit this community particularly hard.
We have also held Zoom worship services on Sundays, inviting people of other faiths to join us for Pentecost worship. And our two really excellent youth community workers have not been furloughed and have been very active in the Community during this lockdown time.
The next Bulletin will probably be at the end of August, with September info [email protected]