A nightshelter to a housing campaign: I had no power but you showed me how to take it back

By John Clifton

A week on Thursday, Ilford Salvation Army will open its night shelter for the 5th consecutive winter.  During this time, hundreds of people have stayed in the shelter, which accommodates 28 people per night.  For those 93 nights, during the coldest part of the year, the Corps building becomes ‘home’.  However, we’re very aware that sleeping on a camp-bed in our upstairs hall doesn’t constitute fullness of life.  Let’s take a look at Matthew 25 again:

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 

Continue reading “A nightshelter to a housing campaign: I had no power but you showed me how to take it back”

South London Citizens Assembly at William Booth College

By Sam Tomlin

SLondonCit

Where in our society do you see, on a frequent basis, Christians, Jews, Muslims, agnostics and atheists, young and old, people from all different social backgrounds choosing to come together to share common experiences and desires, despite all our differences? The answer is somewhere on the narrow spectrum of rarely to never. In a world which appears increasingly divided and suspicious of those who are not like ‘us’, the significance of such events should not be underestimated.

On Wednesday night, the South London chapter of Citizens UK met for its Delegates Assembly at the Salvation Army training college in Denmark Hill to do just this, albeit on a larger scale than your average monthly meeting. Nearly 250 people were packed into the main meeting hall, representing the dozens of institutions that make up South London Citizens. Four Salvation Army institutions were represented: William Booth College along with Southwark, Camberwell and Nunhead corps – and Major Mark Rose, Business Services Director of WBC, welcomed all at the start and was part of the event organising team. Continue reading “South London Citizens Assembly at William Booth College”

Salvationists join with nearly 900 others for #refugeeswelcome vigil action to settle #1000b4Xmas

By John Clifton

On Tuesday, Salvationists from a number of different Corps (Ilford, Raynes Park, Stepney, Camberwell, Southwark) as well as William Booth College & Territorial Headquarters joined with nearly 900 organised people from member institutions of civil society alliance, Citizens UK.  We came together at Old Palace Yard, Westminster near Houses of Parliament to remember the 6 children who froze to death in the Syrian refugee camps last winter.  We also came to present three asks to our Prime Minister and government in relation to Syrian refugees and the United Kingdom.  These asks were:IMG_0217

  1.  Will you resettle at least 1000 Syrians by Christmas?
  2.  The government has recently announced the creation of a private refugee sponsorship scheme. Will you work with Citizens UK to make sure that any privately sponsored refugees are in addition to the 20 ,000 that the government has already committed to?
  3.  Will you continue to work with Citizens UK to make sure that Britain plays a full and leading role in responding to this crisis as long as it endures?

Continue reading “Salvationists join with nearly 900 others for #refugeeswelcome vigil action to settle #1000b4Xmas”

What gets measured gets managed… So measure relationships more than money

By John Clifton

There is a classic quote about management which says “what gets measured gets managed”. However, the full quote, as Simon Caulkin points out, says this:

What gets measured gets managed – even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so.

In community organising terms power is defined as the capacity to act. There are two types of power: organised people and organised money. For most churches there’s not usually much money so we rely on the power of our people and the depth of the relationships that people build with each other. When it comes to the state and the market, however, they don’t have many people but they do have money. We can all think of obvious examples of how the state uses money as a lever of power: taxation, fines, tendering processes. We can think of even more obvious examples for how the market uses money as a lever of power.  Just a week or so ago I met a family of five, the three children were all in primary school, whose debit card had been used fraudulently and, despite their attempts, had not yet been reimbursed the money that they had lost.  When I met them they were waiting for the money to be put back into their account on Monday. Their account had been overdrawn since the week before and they had been threatened with charges for the overdraft. The family were scared, disoriented, and unfamiliar with such a situation. They came to The Army for help to get through the weekend.  This is just one example of how the market and its money impinges upon the everyday life of people.  It even happens accidentally simple sheet or simply due to bureaucratic or technological errors.  It becomes the responsibility of the power of people (civil society) to push back against the power of money (state and market). Continue reading “What gets measured gets managed… So measure relationships more than money”

The power of us: listening, vulnerability and making room for God

Guest post by Capt Emma Scott

photo 1“Mummy, what church do we live in?” This was the question 4 year-old Nathan asked about a year ago and it pretty much sums up the values of our Salvation Army gathering in Mitcham, London.

It was refreshing to read about the importance of visitation in the report ‘Marching Towards Justice and in particular the challenge to the status quo that visitation isn’t about me – spending time with someone because I know best and want to support them – but it’s about us, where we “…encourage both parties to speak freely about themselves.” As a leader in the church it can be really hard to make myself vulnerable to those around. My experience is that my ego compels me to have to keep a bit of mystery around who I am. The reality, however, is that I am a believer who messes up, struggles with faith and questions the world I see around me – church included. Continue reading “The power of us: listening, vulnerability and making room for God”

Reflections from Leicester – institutions are key to strong communities

WMC‘We get 30 or so on a Sunday, but back in the 70’s it would have been 300.’ Carl [not his real name] is telling me about the local working men’s club he has attended for decades just down the road from where we sit at a coffee morning in the church building where my wife Jenni and I have spent the last few months on our summer placement as part of our training to be Salvation Army officers. He has lived in the same house in West Leicester for 70 years and was an engineer and cleaner for most of his working life. He reflects that Leicester has a proud history of industry, particularly in shoe-making and hosiery, but like much of British industry, it declined in the decades after WWII. Continue reading “Reflections from Leicester – institutions are key to strong communities”

Praying towards justice – a vigil for refugees

By Nick Coke

Last night I attended a prayer vigil for refugees, with Salvation Army colleagues from across London. It was a remarkable gathering.

Look at this photo –  what do you see?

vigil

Here’s what I see…

I see diverse people. Gathered in the courtyard of Westminster Cathedral 450 souls stand shoulder to shoulder. A snapshot of the diversity to be found in this great capital city. People of various faiths, ethnic and social backgrounds. Humanity in it all it’s jumbled, glorious, and wondrous mess. All belong, all needed. Continue reading “Praying towards justice – a vigil for refugees”