An Anna Chaplain in conversation with Statutory and Voluntary Agencies in Hampshire

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At the end of September I was fortunate to be invited, on behalf of the Anna Chaplaincy, to a day conference entitled:
'What is possible if we work together to build more supportive communities?'
It was by invitation only and the Social Services Sensory Team, with whom we have good links, put our name forward.

Over 60 groups met and the excellent format enabled us to speak in small groups with a diverse range of agencies. Together, with a skilled and sympathetic facilitator, we drew some of the threads together at the end.
It was exciting to realise what a key role out churches are playing in this work of building more supportive communities.
Here are some of the phrases used during the day that resonated with me in the light of the vision we in GAP are formulating to create a more inclusive compassionate sense of community in Alton:
Start Small
Connect
Create a ' WE CAN ' culture
Break down barriers
Come alongside
Challenge assumptions
Create dialogue
Each Partner Equally Important
Identify Shared Goals
Bring Young and Old Together: Age Fusion
We recognised the many challenges in society today. For example:
The challenges of Brexit
Diminishing funds for preventative initiatives
The negative (as well as positive ) impact of electronic devices, for building community, especially for young people.
Above all, I was struck by the simple small steps shared by people during the day that make all the difference at a micro level. Steps that so many of us in our churches take, almost without registering what we are doing. Yet together WE CAN make such a difference by prayer and action. I find it an inspiration to work alongside you — young and old, as we reach out into the community beyond the doors of the church.
Just last week there was an article in The Times about a 87 yr old woman from Southend who spent 4 days in the bath before a waitress at the cafe where she was a loyal customer grew worried and raised the alarm. They had been friends for ten years since Doreen's late husband had moved into a Care Home. It seems to me that good neighbourliness like this is just what building community is all about and we in GAP can hold our heads up high as we reach out to others in old and new ways.
Helen Jesty September 2016

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