TRIBUTES have been paid to woman with a “selfless spirit” who made a significant contribution to lives of many people in Ryedale.
Jacqui Griffiths died suddenly at her home in Norton last weekend, aged 74.
A major with the Salvation Army, Jacqui took over the role as manager of Ryedale Foodbank two years ago.
Since then the foodbank has expanded its services giving more than 2,300 emergency food supplies to people in crisis over the last year.
Reverend Malcolm Dyer, chairperson of Ryedale Foodbank Steering Group, said: “We are heartbroken at the news of Jacqui’s passing last weekend, this was devastating news for everyone involved in Ryedale Foodbank.
“Jacqui made a significant contribution to the lives of many people in the Ryedale area and she will be sorely missed.”
Rev Dyer added: “Jacqui’s selfless spirit and dedication to helping people in crisis has been a beacon of light and hope for everyone in our community – and it is a legacy that will live on through the work of the foodbank.
“Personally, I had worked with Jacqui some years ago when she was leading a Salvation Army work in central Manchester, and I was so pleased when Jacqui was appointed to manage Ryedale Foodbank.
“I had complete confidence in her skills and abilities and her compassionate heart for those in need.
“This became so apparent in the face of this pandemic as she selflessly made herself available so that individuals and families would not go hungry.
He added: “We will so miss her compassion and strong community spirit,”
John MacKenzie, a long-term volunteer with Ryedale Foodbank, said: “Jacqui’s untimely passing will be felt by many in our community who knew her.
“The tributes by so many different groups bears testament to that.”
He added: “Jacqui worked hard to help develop Ryedale Foodbank to its full potential and will be missed by all of us who knew and worked closely with her.”
Prior to moving to Norton, Jacqui was secretary of the Bolton Street Angels, which she had helped set up and volunteered with for more than nine years.
A fellow member said: “Jacqui left her legacy in Bolton as she played a huge part in management of Bolton Street Angels and out on the streets in the small hours giving non judgemental support.
“It is what she did. It's who she was.
“The world will be a poorer place without her.”
Simon Cardy, who met Jacqui through the Salvation Army, said: “I feel very sad to hear that Major Jacqui Griffiths has died.
He added: “However, sorrow is countered by deep, deep gratitude for knowing a minister and friend who not only married Karen and I, but was also the first minister I met who was fully inclusive of any and all that had been excluded.”
Today is #GivingTuesdayNow - now more than ever we are called to make a difference.
First of all CNI Network want to thank and honour all those who give of themselves - as a former Prime Minister said about CNI Network, "people standing up and taking an active role in building the type of community they want to live in". If you invest yourself to others / communities that includes you! #VolunteersAreAmazing
Secondly we want to thank and honour all those who support those making a difference in any way - those who support financially, those who pray, businesses who have a Corporate Social Responsibility arm and for family members of our local projects those who haven't minded Saturday and Sunday mornings lost to sleep after a 4am finish!
Thirdly we want to thank and honour those who are doing more or doing different in this difficult time. Several of our local projects have stepped up to do different and many are looking afresh at how they best support local communities once lockdown is over. Innovation around the unknown is a scary place to be sometimes but our communities are worth it!
Finally CNI Network want to encourage you on this #GivingTuesday to consider giving - if everyone gave a few £ (or $ or €) especially to smaller charities it could well be a lifeline. Please do consider CNI Network and our local projects - but giving to any smaller local charity could well ensure they have a future as normal income is lost. To donate to CNI Network visit cninetwork.org/donate and for local projects see individual websites.
May - George Varney, 61 from Woking:
George worked for Shell, the oil company, for 41 years and a health issue in 2016 led to George rethinking life and so took early retirement at the end of 2017. George had become involved in Street Angels in Woking in February 2011 and his early retirement meant he was open to God leading him to look for something different.
George tells his story, “The church I attended was looking at setting up a social enterprise to help the homeless, underprivileged or marginalised members of the community to better integrate into society and particularly, where possible, into the mainstream workforce.
“Buying some wood on the day after I retired I came across a website for the National Community Wood Recycling Project who ran social enterprises across the UK collecting wood from builders yards and inviting people on the margins of society to work in the workshops to gain life and work experience and mentoring.
“I took this idea to one of the church leaders and he set up a steering group, now the board of trustees, and we got up and running with the Useful Wood Company. We started the workshop in September 2019 whilst maturing the rest of the business model and we finally opened officially in February 2020.”
Wood is collected from building sites, sorted and then either sold back to the public, or used in the workshops to make furniture and other items. Unusable wood is sent to be turned into fertiliser so that none of the collected timber ends up in landfill.
However just as the project got going the coronavirus sadly meant the Useful Wood Company had to be put on hold.
Asked about any outstanding stories in the first few months George shared, “We are early into the project and have had mixed success.
“One gentleman had been long term unemployed and in move on accommodation following on from time in the night shelter. His confidence was low when he started but after four months of working with the Useful Wood Company he left us to set up his own business selling Betterware and other catalogue based products door to door.
“It was amazing to see his confidence grow as he worked with the team over the four months.
“Another gentleman who was a chronic alcoholic who was showing such promise and was going from strength to strength. Just before Christmas he had a downturn and just as he was coming through that, the coronavirus hit.
“We have people with long term illness and those from halfway housing. We are able to see people progress and it is amazing how turning bits and pieces of wood into a final product gives people a source of pride and achievement.
George is hoping that the Useful Wood Company can go from strength to strength. He would love to see a fleet of vans and the opportunity to employ some of the volunteers to drive and deliver.
“At one stage, we were almost about to give up because property is so expensive that we couldn’t find a suitable place at an affordable price. Eventually we were given the old Job Centre rent and rate free as it was empty awaiting demolition. The building is very close to the centre of Woking and is well known to our clients.
“Our hope is to build the business up so that when the Job Centre site is ready for redevelopment we can then afford commercial rates.”
George is also involved as a volunteer and trustee of Woking Street Angels.
“Street Angels is great fun! The change in the town is noticeable, Woking had a reputation for fights and was not a nice place to be at 2am, whereas these days we don’t see fights and the police report crime rates have gone down substantially.
“Everyone who is out now recognises us and comes for chats, help and flip-flops. We have very much built up relationships with the night-club community.
“Street Angels was my introduction to the homeless community in Woking and this led me on to volunteer for a regular meal which got me connected with this community and helped me to understand the needs and despair. This has really helped as we set up the Useful Wood Company.”
George encourages people to always talk to those who you are aiming to help so that real needs and not perceived needs are met.
“There is a very real need for more people to volunteer in community and charity organisations.
In these times where people are furloughed and have less pressures on time George encouraged those who are re-evaluating life during this coronavirus lockdown to look at investing into the voluntary sector as this plays such a vital role in our society.
“The work I am involved in is really rewarding and to see lives changed and having fun whilst seeing this is such a privilege."
For more information on Useful Wood Company visit usefulwood.org or for Woking Street Angels visit wokingstreetangels.org.uk
Reading the Bible verse from Isaiah 58:12 that CNI Network has as its vision and purpose:
Your people will rebuild the cities that were destroyed long ago.
And you will build again on the old foundations.
You will be called the one who repairs broken walls.
You will be called the one who makes city streets like new again.
This is a key verse for the time beyond this time! As a Network of local projects we are sharing ideas and thoughts that are and will help put this verse into action for the communities we serve. Together and with others we will:
Rebuild the cities destroyed by this lockdown - believing that businesses of all kinds will reopen and then prosper. Praying for owners, management and workers. Praying that the economy will come back stronger. Standing with our friends in both day and night-time economies and at festivals to help with this rebuild.
Build again on the old foundations - many of our towns and cities (indeed nations) are founded on Biblical dynamics. "Seek the peace and prosperity of places - pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers you too will prosper" and "Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain" are two key ones - as followers of Jesus let us pray and declare these old foundations over your community.
Repair the broken walls - this last few weeks has seen a return for many to neighbourhoods - more time at home has meant people helping one another, conversations over the garden walls, going above and beyond to connect and show love and reach out. Many of our projects and church communities have stepped up to be active in local neighbourhoods - helping repair broken walls and seeing a return to communities that look out for one another. As a former Prime Minister said of CNI Network, "people standing up and taking an active role in building the type of community they want to live in"
Makes the city streets like new again - many of our streets are deserted - shops, pubs, clubs and business closed. Schooling and work taking place at home. The fruit of CNI Network and our street, club and festival work over the last 15 years is reduced crime, less anti-social behaviour, change in the atmosphere, partnership working locally and nationally and thousands of people helped and supported. The way we work will need to change over the next few months - the fruit will change as our streets are built up to a new kind of newness. This is a long-haul process but we want both CNI Network and our local projects (and our partners) to be at the heart of this - to be a prophetic voice and action into the new kind of new!
Paul Blakey MBE featured on Premier Christian Radio / Churches Together in England Prayer of Hope on Sunday 26th April. Here is the prayer:
Over 20 local residents and groups who between them give hundreds of hours each week to make a real difference in their community have been recognised and celebrated by the Mayor of Guildford.
The Mayor's 2020 Award for Service to the Community rewards people who were nominated by residents in the borough, and this year's list features musicians, charity fundraisers, homeless shelter volunteers, theatre directors, scout leaders, parish councillors and clerks, school teachers and governors, retail managers, care centre co-ordinators and other community leaders, as well as Guildford Street Angels and the Trustees of Number Five, who both receive collective recognition.
The Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Richard Billington, says: "Everyone receiving an award has been nominated by residents whose lives have been touched by their kindness, generosity of spirit and endless enthusiasm, in some cases over many years. Supporting health in our community has been the theme for my mayoral year and every one of the award recipients have made significant contributions to both the physical and mental health of the borough.
"Their stories are inspiring and confirm the wonderful sense of community that we have in Guildford. I am delighted to be able to recognise the tremendous contribution that they have made to the borough, which feels particularly appropriate in the midst of a pandemic."
Guildford Street Angels, established in 2008 by the churches of Guildford, provide year-round town centre patrols every Friday and Saturday night from 10.30pm until 4am. Their work, in supporting individuals and tidying streets, equates to approximately 25,000 volunteer hours every year. The Number Five homeless shelter, on York Road, this year celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, and the continued dedication and expertise of its Trustees enable it to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers 365 days a year.
Also receiving awards are husband and wife, David and Judith Hunt, who have each worked with the 1st Merrow Scout Group for over 30 years, and in 2019 established the Beating Hearts Merrow Campaign to raise money for three public-access defibrillators.
"We feel surprised and honoured to be receiving these awards," said David and Judith. "We feel they should be shared with so many friends and fellow volunteers, in scouting, Beating Hearts Merrow and St John's Church."
For the last two years, Matt Gaskin has provided a free Christmas dinner for 265 people at St Joseph's Church in Guildford. In leading the initiative, which has gained significant support from individuals and businesses, he has brought extra Christmas cheer to the elderly and vulnerable in his local community.
Mr Gaskin says: "I am extremely honoured and grateful to be receiving such an important award for services to the community. I'm sure every other nominee was as capable, if not more, of winning this award. It would not have been possible without the support of my family and the wonderful local businesses that sponsor and help me to be able to provide the help and support.
"The Christmas day meal we provide every year is only made possible with the amazing support given to us to enable us to cook for people from all walks of society. This is a great chance for people to get together and support each other every year."
All nominations were made and assessed before the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mayor's Award for Service to the Community is kindly sponsored by The County Club, High Street, Guildford.
A presentation ceremony will be held at The County Club as soon as it is safe to do so.
For the full list of winners, see our Mayor's Award for Service to the Community page.
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner MP, joined with Oldham Street Angels who are still operating distributing food and drinks to those who are homeless in Oldham. Here is her Facebook:
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