Connecting Canterbury is already making a difference according to one volunteer.
- Open six days a week in different locations across Canterbury
- Access to Kent Saver’s Credit Union, food bank and other community services
A recently launched network of community hubs called Connecting Canterbury is already making a difference according to one volunteer, the Reverend Phil Greig, Mission Priest at All Saint’s Church in Canterbury: “We’ve only been up and running eight weeks, however I’ve already experienced a number of conversations with people which I know have been the start of better things for them.”
Based in a variety of churches and community centres across the city, Connecting Canterbury offers visitors a warm welcome, financial information, and a listening ear. As well as providing access to the banking services of the Kent Savers Credit Union, Connecting Canterbury has partnered with the local authority, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Canterbury Debt Advice Centre, Porchlight, food banks, Christians Against Poverty and many other organisations to offer help and advice across a wide range of needs
Reverend Greig, whose church hosts one of the Connecting Canterbury branches, says the power of the initiative is in the conversations that are had: “By just giving someone the opportunity to talk, it’s surprising the issues that are suddenly revealed and how, through our connections, we can start to help; it can be as simple as raising someone’s sense of self-worth because they’ve had someone spend time with them and show interest in them as a fellow human being.
“One person actually came in to support a friend receiving a food bank parcel. Over a cup of coffee it soon transpired that they too needed some financial assistance, as well as a focus for their time. We spoke about the Kent Savers credit union, and also some of the social groups available in the area, and they left with some options to consider and a smile on their face.”
The hubs are open from 9.30am until 12 noon at a different location each day, Monday to Saturday and are staffed by fully trained volunteers. The sites include: Canterbury Baptist Church, St George’s Place on Mondays and Fridays; All Saints Church, Military Road on Tuesdays; St Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and Northgate Ward Community Centre, Military Road on Thursdays.
David Hartwell, Chair of trustees of Connecting Canterbury explained that getting the word out about the network was vital: “We’re keen for as many people as possible to know that we are here, so that we can get support to those who need it.
“You do not have to be a church-goer or a Christian to use the hubs and there is also no cost to using our service. Rather our key principle is that each person who visits us is valued and will be given as much time as necessary to resolve their problems or simply have a chat and a cup of tea.”
Local MP Julian Brazier who is Patron of Connecting Canterbury said: “I don’t think we can underestimate the feelings of isolation and despair that can be felt by those facing money or personal worries, so to have a network of places where people will be listened to but not judged, and receive advice for a variety of issues in one place, makes this a very powerful asset to the community.”
More information about Connecting Canterbury and the service it provides can be found on their website: www.connectingcanterbury.org via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Connecting-Canterbury-467270356811226/ or by calling a central number: 07999 900 659
For more information contact Jennifer Ross, Diocese of Canterbury 01227 459 401 / 07765 112 177 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Reverend Phil Greig in Northgate Community Centre helping a member of the credit union pay money into their Kent Savers account.
- Connecting Canterbury and food bank volunteers at All Saints Church branch
Notes to Editors:
- Connecting Canterbury is being supported by Together Canterbury, a partnership between the Diocese of Canterbury and the Church of England’s national charity working to alleviate poverty, Church Urban Fund.
- Kent Savers is a financial co-operative, owned and controlled by its members and running on a not-for-profit basis. Their aims are to promote saving and provide members with loans at reasonable rates, so that they feel in control of their own money. To become a member, you must be living and/or working in Kent.