Posted by: nickgardham | April 7, 2011

J&P Presentation – Nottingham – Spreading the Word

Tuesday 5th April – members of the team from Holy Trinity Parish Newark presented their project to a meeting of the Justice & Peace Commission and parishioners from four East Midlands Counties. Fr Michael O’Donoghue, Robert Beall and Jo Butler talked to an attentive audience of about thirty people in the Cathedral Hall in Nottingham and then took questions. Robert, supported by Jo talked about the building of the Community and Partnership Centre back in 2003 to 2005, the consultation with the community and other churches and the design influenced by them and by visiting other similar centres. Last year around 850 events were held at the centre by groups from all over the community from local government, to NHS, to voluntary and community groups, to lunch clubs, to parties and weddings and baptisms. The people of Newark see the centre as theirs. But not wanting to rest on their laurels they want to reach out further into community, reach people who do not get involved now and reach people who feel isolated and not listened to.

Fr O’Donoghue talked of how the Churches in Newark had a history of working together and how the Catholic Church had been influential in the setting up of a hospice and a hostel for homeless people in years gone by. He talked of his vision of a community which supported each other.

Then Nick Gardham, who is leading the work of the RE:generate Trust for the project, talked about the listening process and how it gets people talking about what they love in their community, their concerns and their ideas to make things better. People are also asked if they feel they have a say in what goes on and if they would like a say. This gets people thinking about taking action and the process brings them together to plan what they want to do. Nick used examples from a project in Bath to illustrate what can happen. The process builds trust and understanding and an energy and impetus for personal and community growth and action.

After a break for people to get their breath, a lively question and answer session followed. The audience was interested in how different communities were going to be approached, how listeners were trained and training for transformation. There were also concerns. Those who are not comfortable about knocking on doors can listen in their circle of family and friends. What can you do to stop people viewing this as a means of the local authority getting things done on the cheap? Who holds the purse strings? What are the constraints on how the grant can be spent?

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