Town Centre Ministries
Welcome Place Cafe
To build a place of community and belonging – an accessible, safe place where people are known, loved and accepted.
- Feeding people – Serving high quality seasonal food and drinks on a pay as you can basis. We aim to avoid food wastage and use Fair Trade products.
- Empowering people – Treating our customers and volunteers with dignity and respect. People are known by name and loved and accepted just as they are.
- Embracing change – Recruiting volunteers and enlisting help from within the café community. Offering opportunities for individuals to grow and providing training opportunities. Signposting to other agencies and providing practical help and support.
Weekly Thursday evening service, providing a short service of the word with a meal (provided by volunteers), prayer and social support. To support people to learn more about the love of God and to provide opportunities for people to make changes to their life that will enable them to leave behind some of the addictions that have afflicted their lives.
Revd Natasha Thomas, Andrew Parfitt and Henry Pettinger and a group of 5 regular volunteers
As the new term starts and the weather begins to change it dawns on me that Grubs Up has reached its first anniversary which feels amazing, considering what we all have lived through with Covid and lockdowns and constant reviews and risk assessments! Grubs Up is a church service designed specifically for people who we meet around the churchyard. People who live chaotic or addictive lifestyles. People who have been battered by the storms of life. People with whom we have been working for the last 10– 15 years through NightShift, Welcome Café and InTouch (a meal provided in partnership with a Muslim charity). But none of these activities which are done with such love and care provided teaching, prayer and music. So we started as a trial, with a mandate to engage, reach and share the love of Jesus, creating a space of supported vulnerability.
Why was this needed?
As the curate in the parish, I became acutely aware of the spiritual need of this particular community. When I arrived I was based in the church office just off the vestry and opposite the hall where Welcome Café ran twice a week. I would regularly hear the conversations, and arguments among people who would sit on the step just outside the office. This meant that I could occasionally sit outside with them or intervene when an argument was getting a bit close to the wire. It meant that I got to know these people well and see that their spiritual needs were not being met. I knew Jesus could make a difference and that He desperately wanted to get involved in their lives. In 2019, I started praying about what it was I /we could do. I set up a small support group to think through how as a church we might do this, as rightly there were concerns about not overcommitting ourselves as a church and how we would be able to respond to the needs we would identify.
We began, very gently in 2020 at the beginning of lent offering prayer and healing alongside the café and we saw some real changes in the behaviour and life of those who came in for prayer. And then COVID and lock down hit.
Like all C of E churches, the church was closed, but from time to time I would visit the town centre and see the community and the people I had grown to love deteriorating. Lockdown for many meant being stuck in a place where they were sofa-surfing, or in a room with damp, or just in absolute isolation. They would ask when Games Club would start again, when they might be able to eat food with others. I felt desperately that these people needed to know that Christians had not abandoned them, but that in fact we would walk alongside them, during this dark time.
So, in conversation with our Rector Mike Cansdale, we agreed that when the lockdown lifted we would start to offer a meal and a service each week on a Thursday evening.
After a rigorous risk assessment re systems for protecting against COVID we opened on Thursday 23rd September 2020. And so, it has been that every Thursday (without fail) a service has run or prayer been offered. Even when the second lockdown occurred we continued to provide a takeaway and offer prayer. Volunteers have stepped forward to become befrienders and food providers (4-5 volunteers each week) and a hot meal is cooked and delivered by additional volunteers. Amazingly we have not struggled for support or food. We have been abundantly blessed!
GOD HAS BLESSED THIS SERVICE!
Starting with an average of 8 – 12 people attending, we now have a regular congregation of 20 – 25. Even when our Mission Apprentice Sarah, had to isolate themself for 6months we were able to keep building and growing the service whilst she was able to ensure that there was continued prayer support and volunteers.
This service has been run and supported by so many people who have also captured the vision of our service and without whom we could not have established a place where people feel accepted and loved for who they are. Including congregation members buying bibles for everyone or donating money to support the running of the project.
God at work through the Stories from our congregation
People who had determinedly refused to come into church now attend regularly and have put the “Blessing” song as her ringing tone.
I have been asked to take three memorial services for people who grieved the loss of lives taken too soon due to drug overdose, alcoholism and murder. Families have become involved on the periphery offering donations and encouragement. We have established ever stronger links with local charities who see that we are providing a service that they appreciate is benefiting their service users.
We have seen Physical Healings – stomach pains, shakes, anxiety, serious tooth abscess and jaw pain all being completely healed. Housing needs supported (three people have now been rehoused)
People have told us that:
“I feel such a sense of peace by being in this place”
“I look forward to coming and being here each week – I know I am accepted for who I am”
“I feel when I come into this place that there is a light – like shining stars and I feel such kindness from you people, its unbelievable”
“I want to change but don’t know how – I just know Jesus loves me”
“I know I can talk to you about anything”
“I just want to light a candle and pray to God and be blessed”
These conversations show the diversity and the need of people who want to know how they can find hope, how they can change, how they can find ways of accepting themselves when they find themselves shunned and described as ‘bums on the street’, where people are fearful of them. They are a community who want to be accepted as human beings. This service is a place that has enabled people to be confident that they can share their vulnerabilities and fragilities, without shame.
I want to say a particular thank you to Rev Mike Cansdale who encouraged and supported the establishment of this service, to Sarah Rose, Rob Savage and Andrew Parfitt who have served this initiative with such commitment, prayer, care and love each week.
· To establish a regular discipleship course
· Establishing links with Keys a project that supports people with addictions through both medical and spiritual support, this is made possible because NightShift has agreed to pay for a worker for the first year.
· To continue to work in partnership with local agencies particularly Project 6, Progress, Keighley Council, GPs.
PLEASE KEEP PRAYING FOR THIS SERVICE AND ITS CONGREGATION.
There are a wide range of opportunities within Keighley Parish to experience, and to be part of, prayer. It is very much the root of all we do in Keighley.
Just like every home, business or charity, we need money to function. While we fundraise at specific events, we also rely on donations and gifts from our members.
Have you thought about joining one of our wonderful teams of volunteers? There are several opportunities to help within the parish throughout the week.