One of the best media avenues these days is Twitter. These pages give folk the opportunity to write the news themselves and offer an excellent facility and insight about what is going on locally, the opportunity to learn about the work of social and community organisations is immeasurable.
Unfortunately, ‘social media’ as it’s called (although to me all forms of media are the same in standing) seems to be used too much to highlight the shortcomings of organisations rather than their benefits. Religious organisations often bearing the brunt. It seems, for example, that Christian based groups are the frequent subject of these assaults for they are not inclined to fight back in the way that perhaps others might. I do feel this is somewhat unjustified at times.
I know that in Brighton there are a number of Christian groups engaged in social work. The task being to try and alleviate the suffering and poverty of others-doing good works as well as showing faith.
A fine and simple, yet hard-working, example of this is the lunches that a number of churches put on throughout the week. These environments are often aimed at older people and are effectively run at cost, or loss, providing folk with a decent meal and, crucially, good company.
On a few occasions over the years I have visited the ‘Friendship Centre’ at Holland Road Baptist Church. I’m familiar with the church in the sense that I always attend the annual carol service with my Dad, but this Friday event is somewhat different in nature.
Most Fridays throughout the year, with the exception of some holiday closures, the Church hall opens its doors offering a ‘wholesome, cooked lunch at a very reasonable price followed by a short talk’. The online page goes on to say ‘There is plenty of opportunity for conversation and enjoying each other’s company. The main course is served between 11.45am and 12.15pm’. This is exactly what I have found in each visit, when going to have lunch with my Dad.
Each time I have attended there have been around 30-50 others there-mostly older folk. The centre provides them with an opportunity for contact and conversations with many others. I can only imagine that for some of them this may not be a frequent occurrence. All the people who create the lunches and administer the morning in a practical manner are volunteers, friendly and welcoming people who give up their time to serve others. No one in attendance should ever feel in isolation. It is clear that the mornings are not just aimed at Church folk; in fact others are openly encouraged to attend.
As for the ‘short talk’, it is no more than that. A member of the Church will simply talk of the source of their faith or give an insight concerning the meaning of certain scriptures. Folk are sometimes given the opportunity to talk further with someone if they wish, but no one is compelled to do so. I’ve noticed that a lot of non-Christian people regularly go.
The event in Holland Road is one of a number of Church outreaches that seeks to serve the community around it and, particularly where older folk are concerned, this is a lifeline. So many older folk seem to be trapped in isolation, and the warmth and engaging environment that a place such as this brings goes a long way to giving some relief to loneliness. Of-course there are secular organisations that offer community facilities, and I hope to cover some of those as the year goes on, but for now I wanted to briefly highlight that the Church in many areas is really putting its faith in to practise.
Photo: From Wikipedia- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holland_Road_Baptist_Church