A series exploring how Christians work out their salvation in their day to day lives, deepening our relationship with God. Hosted by St Peter's church. Speakers share something of their work, and how their faith strengthens it. Talk & light lunch. Open to all, with an ecumenical flavour in organisation and content.
26 February: Rev Paul Ainsworth, Church Urban Fund Projects officer
5 March: Angie Hynard, Nurse
12 March: Sian Lockwood, Chief Executive, NAAPS
19 March: Dennis Richards, headmaster, St Aidan's
25 March: Mark Kirman, Court Family Division
2 April, David Dunn, CAFCASS.
26 February: Rev Paul Ainsworth, team vicar in the Moor Allerton Team Ministry and Anglican Diocesan Church Urban Fund Projects officer.
Paul provided an overview of the Church Urban Fund, outlining one-off grants through the Mustard Seed fund, and also the main Central Fund.
CUF addresses poverty, currently for Asylum Seekers and Young People in this region. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister provides listings of the poorest regions; the Church Urban Fund supports the bottom 10% of this category. The fund addresses issues causing poverty - social cohesion and youth issues.
In Leeds, the fund supports the Church of the Nazarene and Methodist projects. Time and again, once projects have secured funding from the Church Urban Fund, then other grant making bodies add their support. Those applying for grants outline how the funds will impact not just in the short term but also three years on.
With a fund of just £80,000 pa to spend in 2007, the Anglican Diocese has to give grants only to the most needy, notably those working with prostitutes, drug addicts and neighbourhood schemes - including the Belle Isle Family Centre.
Paul was drawn to the work knowing the passage in Matthew 25, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Throughout the Old and New Testaments we read how God is a god of justice and mercy. Paul remembers - and lives out - the refrain of the song 'We are one in the Spirit': 'and they'll know we are Christians by our love' (lyrics below).
The Church Urban Fund was featured on the 20 February edition of the The Archers: "As Alan talks about the current fundraising appeal for the Church Urban fund, talk turns to Lent. Eddie finds great hilarity in Fallon's intent to give up chocolate, and comments that she stands as much chance as Lilian would of giving up alcohol. Lilian takes offence, and a challenge is set: both Eddie and Lilian will give up drinking for lent, with friends sponsoring them for the church fund. If either of them fails to meets the challenge, they have to donate £50 to the fund themselves."
5 March: Angie Hynard, nurse. Angie first started nursing as her two children started school, enjoying a high nurse:patient ratio of 1:10. She grew used to being able to meet the needs of each patient - even to washing their feet. Unfortunately there wasn't time to look after patients on a new ward to this level: "Get them out of beds and off to breakfast" she was told.
She qualified in midwifery but then found that there were no jobs available. Her old colleagues had invited her back if ever she needed a nursing position; she ended up on the bank - filling in when and where needed. After a frightening experience of being thrown by a heart patient who was desperate to go home, Angie was admitted to casualty and signed off for six months. The attending doctors suggested that the incident be recorded as a fall - Angie had no desire to argue, not being in her nature. After some time, with her degree and qualification in midwifery now fading into the past, she sought a new post.
She has recently taken up a position at Martin's House Hospice, Boston Spa (Map). A delightful conclusion to the story, illustrating how God's provision works in many ways. Angie and her children have worshipped at St Peter's, Harrogate all their lives and have found that their faith has become a natural part of their being. All things work together for the good, it appears, as her steadfastness to the faith has provided a strong foundation for their lives.
12 March: Sian Lockwood, Chief Executive, NAAPS, a UK charity which represents tiny services provided by individuals and families in local communities. Membership of NAAPS is open to those people who have a personal and/or professional interest in Adult Placement. It's a simple way of helping people to help each other and uses the resources of ordinary people and communities to give people the support and housing that they need. Much of the work as a tiny organisation is responding to and dealing with legal matters.
NAAPS helps very small care homes, day services for three or four people, support for people living in their own homes and adult placement. The services are used by anybody that needs support: people with disabilities, mental health problems and older people; alls services are shaped around the individual people rather than the people being slotted into services.
The highly customised, individual nature of NAAPS services meets specific individual needs, providing a clear choice against much larger services which cannot provide such shaping and matching. Sian provided several case studies illustrating this exact matching, meeting the emotional, social and practical needs and making sure others recognise these needs and the people they are serving. NAAPS works to ensure that services are safe and to a high standard, even if the work is outside the normal legal strictures. An example was offered of a generous neighbour providing meals to those next door for cost price only; the council wanted the kind lady to register as a service provider - at a unnecessarily high cost; NAAPS stepped in and ensured all parties were happy by simply providing essential food hygiene training.
The key motivation in Sian's life and work is recognising that each and every individual is important and has a right to a valued life; perhaps her motto is 'People above systems'. Sian sees her job as the outward expression of her faith; with the difficulties of each day, she relies on the help her faith gives her. Her job has endless decisions and ethical implications where Sian draws on her faith and understanding of the gospel to make the wise decisions necessary, from individual people to the best place to seek funding.
19 March: Dennis Richards, Headteacher, St Aidan's, lay reader and cricketer, was introduced by St Peter's lay reader and warden, Pam Shaftoe.
Dennis was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire; he specialised in modern languages and, after a mid-life crisis, completed a degree in Theology at King's College, London. Most of his career he has taught religious studies, keeping his hand in teaching French as well. He began his career teaching French in Grimethorpe which he described as a parochial community with, truly, a fish and chip shop called 'In Cod we trust'. He returned to Holmfirth for his mid-life crisis which then took him to London for his degree. He has been a head teacher for 19 years here in Harrogate.
The modern headmaster has changed over the last 20-30 years from a position of visionary leadership, inspiring youngsters to a business manager, looking after a budget of around £8-9m. He still considers himself a classroom teacher despite the need to follow a business management model. Dennis muses on how these changes will continue to impact on the character of schools; the debate continues.
The move by Mrs Thatcher to introduce parental choice brought in competition for places in secondary comprehensive schools, a different model of education, especially when compared with countries like France where every school is identical - so there is no school uniform - identical opportunity in every school and no identification with an school. Students don't represent their school in sport, for example. In the past thirty years we have had a market model creating choice, and then developing diversity.
The secondary schools here in Harrogate offer the choice with Science at St Aidan's, the Grammar is a Language college, Rossett specialises in Maths and Computing, Ripon offers a technology college and an engineering college at Ripon Grammar, Sports at Harrogate High and Arts at St John Fisher. In theory this provides choice for parents who recognise the aptitude of their children; it doesn't work but the current [Labour] administration has put a lot of money into schools following their mantra of Education, Education... There isn't the same pressure in the financial management of schools as there was prior to 1997.
There's a distinct difference today between the old patched tweed jacket and today's range of choices which has polarised schools across the spectrum. It has been one of Dennis Richards' key aims to develop excellence in working relationships with all schools in the area, and, indeed, they enjoy good working relationships in practical ways. As an example, when St Aidan's was receiving significant applications from Rossett and Harrogate High Schools for St Aidan's sixth form, they were encouraged to show loyalty for their own school where subjects were offered.
Dennis still thoroughly enjoys the job despite the changes - and despite the heavy bureaucracy He cited an example of the NM1 form - the Near Miss form. It transpires that staff must now complete the correct one of three different types of forms in the event of an Accident, Hazard or Near Miss. As many from an older generation would have done, he would suggest the wise move - if he spotted a spillage on the stairs - would be to clear it up as quickly as possible rather than look for witnesses to the Near Miss and march them off to an office to complete several forms.
Over the years he has witnessed changes to the measuring of intelligence. From the 11+ to today's assessment, we now recognise ability and genius in Music as well as Maths, Art as well as English. Dennis cannot draw perspective, yet many children have spatial intelligence but cannot add up. Some have incredible skill at sport. He noted the capacity of children who are good with people and are measured on the Emotional Intelligence scales, showing emotional stability, self control and drive in relating with others.
Being a faith school is all about managing these breadths well, and that's where Dennis feels he has much to offer. The business manager in him knows he has a good basis with the faith and charitable status elements. This especially provides the opportunity to unite the school around projects with a strong Christian ethos we determine to build the self esteem of each child, valuing each and every one as special as seen by their heavenly Father's eyes. Some teenagers struggle because they don't like themselves very much; it's our job to help the children to like themselves because if they cannot love themselves they will struggle to love their neighbour. It helps them into he virtuous circle. St Aidan's has a special privilege helping to answer the perennial question "Why do good people suffer"; without ramming one viewpoint down people's throats the school is able to answer questions from theological as well as reasoned viewpoints. It's a great place to be.
25 March: Mark Kirman, working in the family division of the courts. Mark described his work with CAFCASS which looks after the interests of children involved in family proceedings. He suggests that the title was devised by a quango. He is devoted to the needs of the children in the midst of the separation. He works with the Magistrates' and County Courts on Victoria Avenue.
While he hears of fights over the prize begonia and the family dog, the children are his focus. As parents and grandparents, we usually find it easy to help children make daily decisions. Unfortunately when parents are unable to make decisions about their children, Mark's role is to help parents make their own decisions about their children. He helps parents sit down together and make decisions creatively and pro-actively. Many parents allow the baggage of their lives interfere with these decisions, so he tries to help them unravel their lives and focus on their children.
Whilst there is anecdotal evidence about children staying with their mother, he finds from his experience that that doesn't always happen - including staying with grandparents. Children should see their extended family including their mother and father after the parents separate except where there is danger - perhaps from drug or alcohol dependency. He sees the tip of the iceberg; there are many parents who resolve their difficulties. Grandparents have an essential part to lay in the lives of the children. In separation, the parents can find the situation very stressful and may act out of character. Mark is keenly aware of how separation affects the children; in his work he values the children, noting the need in his work to be open minded without prejudice when helping parents, showing much understanding. He suggested that recognising humanity is a Christian trait.
Questions raised included the need to keep the children happy as a priority in making decisions, a recognition of increasing numbers of divorces and unmarried parents, and multi-relationships with extended families with international links where the previous and current partners may come from many parts of the world - making the decisions about children's futures more complex.
2 April: David Dunn, deputy regional director for CAFCASS, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. He built on Mark Kirman's talk, describing how social work organisations have improved over the years. The measures these days include ensuring the taxpayers get value for money and, again, providing value and good value. He has thought long and hard about this value. There are several key areas he has reflected on in this regard:
* Children are protected from harm. The debates about smacking children continue; the threshold varies across the country. The thresholds in one area like Gipton, Leeds, may appear to be abuse - but if every case went to court.
The press like to get involved; social workers are criticised whether they get involved or don't get involved.
* Children end up growing up in stable environments. These vary, but in all cases, social workers remove children from harm. There are not enough foster carers, tough, so sometimes the child i better off being left in their original home.
Extreme abuse demands removal, but some forms of abuse such as emotional, may be best dealt with by leaving children with their parents.
Parents ca be so caught up with their own problems that they can lose sight of their children''s needs.
In many organisations the outcomes fail if members of that organisation lose sight of all their stakeholders. The government, the judiciary and our staff are invaluable. We never lose sight of the children, but we also have to keep the balance right. Performance management demands that we keep the balance right and avoid alienating your staff. There still has to be enough quality assurance in the wider community to prove that we're doing a worthwhile service.
David's faith supports and informs the way he works; he comes across some fantastic staff - amazed at how they work with such a wide range of clients. They undertake their public service for not much money in trying and sometimes dangerous circumstancesTo ain promotion, some of the very talented staff move up the career ladder - and then we lose their skills where they have been so effective.
His faith tells him that everyone has the capacity to change. An individual's behaviour is usually the product of what life has thrown at them. Social workers have to manage clients who may have been both victims and perpetrators of abuse; should they be compassionate or judge? The easy option is to demonize abusers, but it is far more complicated tan that. While he doesn't condone extreme abuse, it would be dangerous to see people as a monster. Better to ask the question@What has happened in that person's life for them to be so damaged?' Their role is to make sure that similar occurrences don't happen in the future.
David runs a fortnightly young people's discussion group at St Peter's church with the vicar.
We are one in the Spirit lyrics - see Paul Ainsworth's talk above.
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride.
All praise to the Father from whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus His only Son,
And all praise to the Spirit, the three-in-one.
Note: copyright information on this song is unclear. See Gospel Music website annotated the song with author Rev Peter Scholtes. Ebay had a copy of the 1969 album for sale during February 2007, with this note: "...They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love by Father (Rev.) Peter Scholtes. They'll Know We Are Christians is an early record, from 1969, and the title track (aka “We Are One in the Spirit” and penned by Scholtes, as are all but two pieces on this album) became the banner song for Jesus people of all stripes, Catholics and Protestants (check out Harvest Flight's awesome version on their One Way LP). The instrumentation on this album includes guitars, flute, congas (or congo drums, as they put it), maracas, and temple blocks, with singing provided by Scholtes and the Saint Brendan's Choir."