Bishop John has urged people to ask themselves ‘Are we Good News to the needy?’ in launching his 2018 Lent Appeal.
This year’s chosen charities are Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR), Faith in Families, Carers Wales and Kids for Kids – Darfur.
Bishop John’s Lent Appeal has raised more than £100,000 for a variety of good causes since its launch.
“Another Lent begins with its challenge and opportunity to remember that the reality of our discipleship can be measured by asking of ourselves and answering for ourselves the question ‘Are we Good News to the needy?’,” Bishop John said.
“In asking you, as members of our Diocesan family, to support my 2018 Lent Appeal, I am offering you both the challenge and the opportunity to personally be that Good News, contributing, in a tangible form, to delivering the Gospel of Christ’s love to people in need. By contributing, you will show that our internal concerns and challenges, although they are both real and pressing, don’t take priority over the Gospel imperative to be light and love for others.”
Thanking all those who have contributed over the years, Bishop John said: “Many of you are now well experienced in devising either imaginative or traditional methods of raising money for the Appeal. Many of you also simply set something aside as a personal discipline as Lent progresses.
“However, you choose to proceed, I thank you in advance and I wish you well in your planning and in your efforts for others.”
Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees
HBTSR is a group of volunteers co-ordinating a local response to the refugee crisis, providing both a welcome and welcome support for refugees and people seeking asylum.
One of its aims is to provide short-term respite and sanctuary for refugees in the peaceful countryside in and around the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Its first away day was in December 2015 and, since then, refugees and asylum seekers, including from from Swansea, Newport and Cardiff, have come to spend time in many locations in and around the national park, including Hay-on-Wye, Brecon, the Elan Valley, Craig y Nos, Llangenny and Llanfihangel Talyllyn.
A respite day at Church in Wales school Ysgol Trefonnen in Llandrindod Wells welcomed 53 people seeking asylum or refuge in Swansea and 32 people now settled in Newtown as part of the Syrian Resettlement programme.
Awarded charity status in 2017, HBTSR is also affiliated with Refugees Welcome, a group which has a strong focus on campaigning. Refugees Welcome has worked over the past two years to see thousands of Syrian refugees resettled, the Dubs amendment won, and 3,000 more children to brought to safety from the region.
HBTSR supports the work of various groups working with refugees and asylum seekers. It is affiliated with City of Sanctuary and Refugees Welcome. The support it has been able to offer has included its away days, collecting items such as clothes and delivering these to Swansea and Cardiff as well as donating funds.
Among the groups it works with and has helped are Share Tawe, which offers hospitality in the form of accommodation, meals, welcome and solidarity to destitute asylum seekers in Swansea and Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group.
HBTSR chair Rev Margaret Blake says: “We spend the monies we have on transport for our days out and short breaks that are so valued by people seeking asylum, and also on grants to other Wales-based groups helping people in need of asylum and making small sums available to people in particular need.
“We know our days out are valued by people who often haven’t felt welcome and respected and find a day hosted for them gives them some lovely memories, some essential needs and a feeling of self respect. “
The importance – and impact – of its work can be summed up by some of those who have benefited from the respite days, like M from Syria, who said: “My life has been very bad but today has been a high point. It will help me and my family cope with the bad times better.”
You can find out more here.
Faith in Families
Faith in Families needs no introduction. It is one of the most impressive ways in which the Diocese has developed its outreach into disadvantaged families and communities in our area. The Diocesan Board for Social Responsibility is involved in highlighting issues of social concern within the Diocese, but, as Faith in Families, it is probably best known for running its projects on behalf of the Diocese.
Currently, because of a major shift in policy by the Welsh Assembly Government, the very existence of some of its work as well as the livelihoods of staff members are under real threat. Your support will be a real boost to the morale of staff and trustees who are fighting to preserve the wonderful community and family work which Faith in Families delivers to people within several disadvantaged communities and who are in both profoundly challenging circumstances and real need.
The Family Centres, Outreach Projects and affordable (in some cases free) Childcare Settings strive to be able to fully provide the much-needed children and family support facilities in one-stop centres, easily accessible within local communities.
The now completed £1m redevelopment of St. Teilo’s, Church, Caereithin, has created the Cwtch Community Centre and Church in the heart of Portmead. It provides a Family Centre, open to all ages, where a range of activities take place including parent and toddler sessions, high scope play group, healthy family lunch, after school club, holiday play scheme, adult courses, breakfast club and sessions for young people over 10 years of age, to learn new skills and develop friendships whilst having a great time together. Also, a community cafe with free Wi-Fi and social enterprises will be developed for adults of the area, led by the community, for the community. It’s a wonderful witness to the concern of the Church for the people of the area, and a wonderful advert for the vision of the Faith in Families team.
Sadly, with the ending of Communities First funding, the future of Faith in Families has been under significant threat. There is, now, a breathing space, but the future is never entirely certain.
Find out more here.
Carers Wales’ mission is to make life better for carers. It gives expert advice, information and support, connects carers so no-one has to care alone, campaigns together for lasting change and innovates to find new ways to reach and support carers.
Across Wales there are 370,000 carers who, unpaid support a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.
Carers across Wales provide 96% of care and as our loved ones are living longer with illness or disability, more and more of us will be looking after them.
Whether you care around-the-clock or for a few hours a week, in your own home or for someone at the other end of a motorway – caring can have a huge effect on our lives and our plans.
Every day 6,000 people become carers. Many don’t know how or where to get help. It can be frightening and very lonely.
For some it’s sudden: someone you love is taken ill or has an accident, your child is born with a disability. For others, caring creeps up unnoticed: your parents can’t manage on their own any longer, or maybe your partner’s health gets gradually worse.
Looking after someone can be tough, but you’re not on your own. Carers Wales is here:
Caring for others is fundamental to the living out of the Gospel, and these days, with increasing numbers of vulnerable members of society with increasing and diverse needs, and with the reduction in resources to fund the work and support of carers, the demands placed upon them become ever more pressing.
Many of those who read this will have first-hand experience of caring for someone in acute personal need, so this aspect of the Appeal will resonate profoundly.
Find out more here.
Kids for Kids
Darfur is totally out of the news, yet children live lives off the scale in deprivation. Patricia Parker started Kids for Kids when she saw for herself small children walking for seven hours to reach a handpump, yet there is water underground, if only you can reach it.
Sadly 2018 bodes ill for these forgotten families. Famine Disaster Relief warned in October 2017 that Darfur is in ‘crisis’ because of a failed harvest, yet, by January 2018, not one country or organisation had responded. Donations are diminishing because of so many other disasters in the world, so Kids for Kids year felt able only to adopt three villages instead of five, in order to be able to fund seed & fodder to prevent people starving.
The aim is to help people to help themselves. Families in their 87 villages thankfully are able to diversify. These lucky ones no longer have to rely exclusively on a successful harvest to survive, and there is no malnutrition in our villages. But they are a drop in the ocean of Darfur, where there are over 900 needy communities in dire need of your help.
Find out more here.
Because the Bishop’s Fund for Emergencies is itself a CAF (charitable) fund, it is not possible to Gift Aid money direct to it. However, donors may pay to their PCC’s through Gift Aid and parishes may pass on the money (with the recovered tax).
Parochial or personal cheques for the Appeal should be made out to the ‘Bishop of Swansea & Brecon (Emergency)’ and should be sent to Ely Tower, Castle Square, Brecon, LD3 9DJ.
Payments may be specifically directed to any of the charities. If not specified, payments will be divided equally between all four.
Please try to ensure that payments are made by the middle of September.