~ Meet the team Tuesday~
Today we get to meet the fabulous Xanthe. Xanthe has been volunteering with Illuminate Soho since Feb 2019.
Her first night out spreading the love around Soho was on Valentines Day when we took 150 roses into 3 clubs
// Why did you first get involved with Illuminate Soho? //
I first got involved with Illuminate Soho because I wanted to be a part of spreading God’s love and hope and everything else that goes with it to women in the creative industries. I have a heart for women to really know how amazing they are and not everyone gets to hear that truth.
// What’s one of your fav things about being involved? //
I love getting to know the ladies and having a laugh with them all! But also being able to pray for them and see those prayers answered along the way
// What’s one of your best London hangout spots? //
I grew up in East London so that’ll always have my heart, but one of my fave places is probably Shoreditch - colourful streets to explore, good coffee and salt beef bagels!
// Something you like to do in your free time? //
Sing! Currently trying my hand at song writing
August - Kathryn Wright, Dundee Street Chaplains
The CNI Network, Inspire Magazine Community Hero for August is Kathryn Wright from Dundee Street Chaplains.
Kathryn started with Street Chaplains in 2016 and has been with the team on and off as life allows. Kathryn came to faith around six months before joining the team
“Most of my life I had zero interest in faith and I reached a point in my life where I was going to end it.
“God intervened quite dramatically and gave me a new life.
“This changed the world for me and it changed how I viewed the world around me as well.
Kathryn met Andy Burns, a fellow back row dweller at Central Baptist Church, Dundee, and he told her about Street Chaplains which he founded in 2000.
“Andy chatted to me and asked if I was an insomniac and didn’t mind missing out on sleep.”
Kathryn wasn’t sure if she was the kind of person who was or should be involved in this work due to a lifelong shyness. Kathryn explained,
“I am a mess, who am I to be going out and helping someone else?”
However Kathryn was inspired by the story in Luke 8:39 where Jesus healed the demon possessed man and then told him to go and tell people what had happened. This brought about a dramatic change for Kathryn and as such she was challenged to go and meet people where she could share her faith.
“The Street Chaplains meet and share care and compassion with people who are hurting, the ones falling out of the bars drunk and the LGBTQ community.
“These are the people who often don’t have any or much positive Christian influence in their lives.
“They know bits and pieces and some words but, like myself before 2016, have a deep fear of the church and Christians.
Kathryn felt despite the fact she isn’t the best at talking to people, that she wouldn't have all the answers and had as much need as those the Street Chaplains were seeking to help, she knew this was something she wanted to be involved in.
“The Street Chaplains team welcomed me with open arms and are an inspiration to work with.
“They feel like a family and I am privileged to be part of that.
“It is amazing the conversations you end up having with people - people you wouldn’t meet in other circumstances.”
The key to the work of Street Chaplains is serving people and serving the community. In this role of serving the team meet a wide range of fascinating and interesting people and one night Kathryn ended up talking to a group of drunk Santa’s about Jesus!
“It does bring home that it is not about us, it is not about our ability, God is the one doing the work and he shows us what to do - we need to trust in that.”
Kathryn’s paid work is a Member Pioneer at the Co-Op supermarket in Broughty Ferry. This role sees Kathryn connecting with local groups and organisations to offer support and networking with each other to help build more resilience in the community.
“At the moment we are aiming to help with food poverty and giving away excess stock to enable charities to feed the most vulnerable in the community.”
In summer 2019 Kathryn started part time Theological Studies at Highland Theological College.
“This has been amazing and to have the time to be able to do this is a privilege.
“It is hard work and very challenging but is absolutely worth it.”
Over the last four years since the dramatic change when Kathryn became a follower of Jesus, she is filled with a sense that this life is to be lived for God and as such has a deep desire to serve and show that love to other people.
Better late than never, here is our Community Hero for July - Marcus Bennett, who has had an involvement in so many local projects, despite facing considerable personal challenges of his own ...
Marcus grew up in Luton and describes himself as a Londoner who is currently living in West Yorkshire. He became a trustee for CNI Network in May 2020 and has 20+ years experience of church leadership as an Elim Pastor.
He has had involvement in starting up a wide variety of projects including Wimbledon Food Bank, one of the first one hundred Trussell Trust foodbanks to open in the UK. He is a former trustee of London’s biggest YMCA.
Marcus went to university as an agnostic, to study theology and business. Three weeks into university a friend explained the the gospel to him and he experienced, to quote John Wesley, “his heart was strangely warmed” and he committed his life to Christ. Settling into a local Elim church in Wimbledon, he went on to lead a church in Mitcham, eventually became the minister in training and taking on leading the church.
Marcus explains, “As a minister one of the people I would regularly pray with was Carolyn Skinner, who was in the process of setting up Third Space Ministries, which now heads up Club Angels.”
Marcus was involved in the ‘Love All Serve All’ outreach at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament queue, which involved sharing the love of Christ with the tens of thousands of people camping out overnight on Wimbledon Park waiting for tickets.
In 2014, he moved to West Yorkshire to lead the Elim church in Dewsbury. Marcus co-founded Dewsbury and District Street Angels at the request of the local council to operate daytime in Dewsbury town centre, helping meet needs around vulnerability, loneliness and street drinkers. During his time at Dewsbury Elim, a Romanian-speaking church was started to help support Romanian residents in the area. This helped combat poverty and promote community integration.
Marcus shares, “Sadly mental health issues meant I had to step down from pastoring the church at Dewsbury.
“Needless to say, this was a difficult time for all concerned.
“Realising that mental health is as much a medical issue as it is a spiritual one became the key to my healing and recovering.”
Over time Marcus learnt to get back into a much healthier daily and weekly routine, including a proper day of rest. Marcus encourages those who are struggling to seek help and know that recovery is possible.
“I have set up as self-employed to offer life coaching helping people to recover from burnout, or better still avoid it!
“I have a part-time role with The Torch Trust, promoting its sight-loss friendly church scheme which helps to equip churches to enable blind and partially-sighted people to have an equal, full and active role in the church community, and reach out in help with the spiritual needs of the sight loss community.”
During furlough from The Torch Trust, Marcus is volunteering with YourNeighbour.org, a network of 1300 church communities responding to the COVID-19 crisis through connecting those with needs with a local church who can respond and help through a national helpline. It supports and equips church leaders to respond to rapidly changing needs and is liaising with the Government and NHS.
Marcus became a Trustee with CNI Network as his passion is for the church to get out of its four walls to make an impact within its local communities. As CNI Network and its local projects demonstrate God’s love to the people in front of us, it is a perfect fit.
“My heart as a trustee is to help CNI Network develop and build stronger links with the local and national Church. There is a need within all organisations to look at new strategies for working in a post-Covid world and I want to work within CNI Network to make the organisation and our local projects stronger in the months and years ahead.”
Throughout his life as a Christian Marcus has seen time and again how the church can make a difference in local communities and how the people of faith can be a massive force for good within the wider society.
He concludes, “Be kind, always look to do good and ‘whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!’” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Update from the Board of Trustees
With the financial challenges being faced by many charities up and down the UK due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19 the Board of Trustees have taken the difficult decision to furlough its CEO Paul Blakey as of Friday 5th June. CNI Network is a not-for-profit organisation and relies on the generous donations from projects and friends of CNI Network and from the talks and festivals Paul and other trustees are involved with. As the majority of festivals this summer have been cancelled and talks planned during this period also cancelled it has left us in a challenging position financially; we estimate at a £10k reduction in income during lockdown alone. We hope that by furloughing Paul now, we will be able to sustain the long term future of CNI Network. The board of trustees offer their thanks to Paul for coming to us with this recommendation in order to preserve the work we do.
Should any projects or individuals require any advice or support during this period our Trustees will be available to you. Please contact our Chair or Vice Chair of Trustees in the first instance.
Chair: Stuart Robertshaw - email@example.com
Vice Chair: Olivia Shaw - firstname.lastname@example.org
Whilst on Furlough Paul will be taking some much deserved down time and will also be working on various non CNI Network ideas that he has not had time to fully invest to.
As a board we thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to CNI Network; if after reading this any projects or individuals would like to make a contribution to CNI Network they can do so via cninetwork.org/donate
Please pray over the next few weeks: for the CNI Network trustees in this critical time of supporting local projects beyond lockdown; for Paul and his wife Jean as they explore different ways of ministry. As a charity we acknowledge our thanks to the UK government furlough scheme which has ensured CNI Network and other charities and businesses can thrive within the new reality beyond the now.
June - Catherine Turnbull-Ross, Aylesbury Town Chaplaincy / Street Angels
Our Community Hero for June is Catherine Turnbull-Ross the Operations Manager for Aylesbury Town Chaplaincy which includes Aylesbury Street Angels.
A Chaplaincy for Aylesbury had an idea for several years among church leaders when a meeting with the Chaplain from Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy in 2010 became the catalyst to move from an idea to action.
Catherine tells the story, “Towards the end of 2010 I had resigned from my job and I attended a joint church meeting where the idea of setting up a Chaplaincy in Aylesbury was discussed.
“As the meeting was coming to an end a request was made for someone with organisational skills and time who could move the project to the next level.”
Rather like the ‘it could be you’ lottery advert with the pointing finger, Catherine believed that God was saying ‘it could be you’, and so once finished full time work she was given a blank piece of paper and worked with a couple of the Church leaders to take things forward. They spoke to various people including the local Police, councils, town centre agencies and church leaders to ensure support for the idea was there. She explains,
“The meeting with the Police was the most positive meeting I have ever been involved in.
“They could not wait for us to start both day and night-time.
“With this enthusiasm we had most churches in the town on board and the finances to be able to employ myself as Operations Manager and Mark Knight to oversee the Street Angels.”
The first year saw a handful of amazing volunteer Chaplains in the town centre visiting the local shops. The Further Education College approached us requesting a College Chaplain as did the Healthy Living Centre who wanted a Chaplain to be around during the Child Health Clinic to connect with parents of small children. Twelve Street Angels volunteers were also recruited and started during one of the coldest Aylesbury winters in years.
Catherine commented, “The Street Angels team built up relationships with licensees, doormen, Police and Paramedics who soon realised the project was not a flash in the pan but here for the long term, especially seeing volunteers willing to go out week after week in sub-zero temperatures.
“The chaplains get alongside people to get to know them.
“This gives people an opportunity to talk about the deeper things in life.”
Chaplains are now available in supermarkets, the Police Station, Local University Campus, the Courts, District Council offices and out and about around the town centre. Catherine values the volunteer team and sees these as the heart of all that Chaplaincy is.
“These amazing volunteers are getting alongside people, listening and being genuinely interested in people’s lives.
“Time is valuable and is one of the greatest things we can invest into others.
“We also signpost people to local and national organisations who can offer further support and have produced a card which has a list of agencies available to give to people so they can take it further if they wish.”
Currently there are twenty amazing Street Angel volunteers who go out on weekend evenings between 11pm and 3.30am. They offer a listening ear and more practical help such as hot drinks for the homeless, flip-flops for those who have hurt feet, finding a taxi and giving out thousands of lollies every year, mostly to door staff! The Street Angels are noted as having a calming community presence.
Aylesbury Town Chaplaincy also oversee the Healing on the Streets team who are available to offer prayer once a month for healing in mind, body and spirit. The Healing on the Streets benefits are welcomed by partner agencies such as the Town Centre Manager.
Catherine has really appreciated getting to know all those working for the good of the town such as Local Councils, Police, Town Centre Management and those who run the various festivals we have in our town.
“You don’t see that when you sit in your church building but thanks to the Chaplaincy the church is now a valued partner joining in with the great stuff that is happening here, working for the good and prosperity of the town.
“I must stress that the real community heroes are our amazing volunteers who invest a massive amount into the life and community of Aylesbury and those I have met from other Chaplaincy teams and night-time work through various networks.
"These show we are an international movement taking church and Jesus to where people are.”
At the moment none of the teams are operating normally due to coronavirus but Chaplaincy is available over the phone and volunteers are receiving on-line training to best support more evident areas of need once the lockdown is over, such as supporting those who are lonely and need someone to chat to and those who have had a bereavement during the last few weeks and not been able to attend the funeral or say goodbye.
Catherine concluded by saying that all the volunteers love taking the church outside of its own activity to be a blessing to the town.
“The strapline of Aylesbury Town Chaplaincy is ‘serving the heart of our town’ and that is something we have done over the last ten years and plan to do for many years to come.”
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