Katie Brazier from TFC looks back on the last ten years of Together for Change.
This month marks Together for Change’s 10 year anniversary!
At Together for Change (TFC), we live up to our name by working in partnership with churches, local authorities, charities and local agencies to see kingdom change in forgotten communities. From our long-term project at Saints Nuneaton, to our partnership and capital regeneration projects, it has been immense privilege to serve the needs of our most deprived communities over this past decade.
TFC have at several times, been an emergency response service within our diocese responding to the challenges of war, Covid-19 and more recently the cost of living crisis. We want to give all the glory to God for his faithfulness and come expectant to be guided by His Spirit for the next 10 years!
Here are some of our highlights from the last 10 years at TFC:
Rising Café in Coventry Cathedral
In 2014 Together for Change’s fundraised and project managed the installation of the Rising Café in Coventry Cathedral. We secured a generous grant of £20,000 from the Bishop’s Mission Fund. The coffee shop was a social enterprise which supported and enabled rehabilitation, and was run by Betel of Britain, a national charity which works to rehabilitate adults who are affected by drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness. The café provided a great atmosphere and delicious food. We even attracted a special Royal Visit!
Fresh Start was an initiative pioneered by Together for Change, working with churches and other organisations in Coventry to offer a warm and welcoming environment to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
Seven years ago, our Fresh Start Coordinator Matt Robinson approached Jet Jones (CEO of TFC), in response to God’s call for him to be a reconciling presence in Coventry. This coincided with the Bishop of Coventry asking TFC to find a way to support Syrian refugees. Matt was then appointed to a new post of Fresh Start coordinator, supported by donations from various sources, including Coventry churches.
As a result, each year hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers across the city have been supported. We have set up a number of ESOL classes with around 200 attendees each week, football training sessions with an average of 90 participants each week and One Family, a multi-lingual church service with a congregation of 40 – 60 members each week. This project has now been handed over to St Peter’s, Hillfields who will continue to provide critical support to our Refugee and Asylum Seekers communities.
The Archbishop’s Visit
In May 2018, The Archbishop of Canterbury visited Coventry to see the work local churches are doing to support refugees and asylum seekers living in the city, and to meet some of the people involved. We hosted an evening celebration, inviting refugees and representatives of the churches and charities who work alongside us.
The event began with live music from students of Nexus ICA. During the evening we heard some powerful testimonies and enjoyed some delicious food. This was a great celebration.
We took on the Saints building in the summer of 2019. The ground floor had most recently been used as a nightclub, with the other floors having been left virtually untouched for decades. Then began the process of refurbishing and developing the ground floor space, ready to launch the first phase of the project in January 2020.
With the support of an army of volunteers, we set about cleaning the space, removing skip-fulls of rubbish and years of grime (and even a 2-year-old bottle of milk!). Then with the dynamic team of Dave Jones and Dave Hodges, as well as more wonderful volunteers, we renovated the ground floor, taking out old booths and furniture, repainting, sanding and re-varnishing the floor, and then adding furnishings and decoration.
We are proud to now offer a versatile, multi-purpose space which serves an average of 600 people each week! Our mission is to tackle unemployment and lack of education, enhance physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and to inspire and connect people through the creative arts. You can see all of what we’re up to on our website.
In the next year, we are looking ahead to Phase 2 renovations to our Saints building. The upstairs space of the Saints building comprises of a kitchen, several toilet facilities, a small meeting room, and the hidden gem 'St Georges Hall'. This area of the building needs a lot of TLC, and we are excited to begin our Phase 2 renovations and restoration to each room, so that this incredible space can once again be open for use by the community.
In 2019, TFC worked in partnership with Mayway Construction and the Diocese of Coventry to oversee the building of a brand-new church and community facility in Stoke Aldermoor. The new building was opened by the Bishop of Coventry in a joyous dedication service.
Previously, the Bishop had received a request to close the old church and sell its site on St Catherine’s Close. The church family embarked on a long journey, moving into the front room of a house, then a school hall, and until last month a set of portakabins. With the help of TFC, in 2019 they celebrated a new site on Acorn Street in the heart of Stoke Aldermoor. This brand-new building continues to serve the new Parish of St Catherine’s Stoke Aldermoor and New Century Park in Coventry.
Transforming Communities Together Warwick
Six years ago, Transforming Communities Together Warwick was set up as a partnership project between Anglican Churches of Warwick and Together for Change. The project was also funded by the King Henry VIII Endowed Trust which provides income for the Warwick Anglican Churches and for the benefit of people living in CV34.
Our development worker, Stacey Bains was then employed to support and build the capacity of churches, people, local community groups and local agencies who are tackling issues of poverty, deprivation and disadvantage in the CV34 postcode area.
A few highlights include the support for adults, families and care-leavers experiencing food poverty with the Your Farmer Food Hamper initiative, which helped 500 families during each school period. Most recently, Stacey was instrumental in coordinating, supporting and promoting the establishment of 13 Warm Spaces within Warwick in the height of the cost of living crisis in 2022.
Annual Report 2022
If you would like to read about everything we got up to in 2022 then you can access our Annual Report 2022 here.
Also, you can create the Saints Annual Report here.