Acts 435 Helping Vulnerable Children
Posted on November 11th, 2015 at 1:12PM
Acts 435 is used in different ways by our participating churches and charities. Some tend to post requests for the people they are already helping through a different ministry (such as debt advice or homeless support). Others have been able to use Acts 435 as a way to help people they might not otherwise have encountered. St. Peter's Church in Barnsley is a great example of this - through Acts 435 the church has been able to make a difference to vulnerable families. Offering this resource provided an important way to connect the church with the excellent work of Children's Centres in the town.
When the church priest heard about Acts 435 he could immediately see its potential to bless those in the local community and perhaps help the church connect with those in need. The church was not running any specific ministries for people in poverty but they started by putting up an 'Acts 435' poster in their church hall where the toddler group met.
At the weekly toddler group, a Children's Centre representative was there and saw the poster. Curious, she enquired about whether there might be support available for some of the vulnerable families she was working with, struggling to replace a broken washing machine or needing baby basics such as a cot bed or safety gates. The church stepped up and said 'Yes'. 4 years on and they have helped over 200 families through Acts 435. That's over £20,000 going directly to people in need in that local community - a resource they would have struggled to find elsewhere, especially in the ongoing climate of government cuts.
When I went to Barnsley I heard the stories first hand of how a small gift had made a big difference. There was ‘Jayne’, single mother of 3, whose cooker had been broken for 2 months. Through Children’s Centre referral, Gina was able to get her one just in time for Christmas. Also ‘Sarah’ with custody of 3 grandchildren, whose income could not stretch to a bed for her youngest, still in a cot bed at age 5, nor a washing machine. She couldn’t believe someone would help her and that she had struggled all this time without knowing about it.
But perhaps the story that touched me most was James, a man engaged to be married with a beautiful 2 year old daughter. His fiancée ended the relationship, not understanding James’ medical condition and, as his daughter’s main caregiver since birth, James suddenly faced losing her too. He had somewhere to live but no bed for his little girl and no money on sickness benefits to purchase one. Acts 435 to the rescue. A caring dad, he told me his priority was to make his daughter feel comfortable and make the transition as easy as possible – “it was brilliant to receive the money to make this happen”. He now has her 50% of the time.
That first Children's Centre worker spread the word to the whole network of Children's Centres in Barnsley who are delighted to be able to access support through Acts 435. What potential there is in this story. Most churches run a toddler group - what an amazing opportunity to show that the church cares about the numbers of children in UK poverty by reaching out to individual children and their parents in desperate need.