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Latest News/Blog

News of events and activities run by churches that we have visited and supported, and follow up information from CTD events.

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Our display

Waymark 2019

Over the weekend of 12-13th October our Team were at the Durham Diocese conference, Waymark, and we took a fridge.

We took a fridge to represent something of the needs of people in the North east in relation to poverty of resources. But what we also did was take a number of things to show how people are gifted, and how people have developed community and shared resources for the goodness of all in their local areas.

Some of the key highlights of 'Waymark' for us included that a number of people connected with us to tell us of how things are going in relation to conversations we had hosted and started, such as Period Poverty and Dementia (do read other pages on this site for more, on be in contact directly) , we were able to connect people doing similar things.

One of the things we asked people to contribute to - and receive a free gift for doing so was to respond to the question:

What are the gifts in your community?

And.... these were the responses, shared anonymously via the gift box

  • The Walls! - seriuously the desire for change
  • Asylum Seekers
  • Community involvement - poor area but foodbank flourishing
  • Community resilience and tenacity
  • Creativity, tenacity
  • Sense of Identity and community, village and church
  • Hard working people working for the community
  • The people who worship together
  • The amazing people
  • _____________ is self sustaining - Foodbank people are so generous
  • A lot of caring people showing Gods love
  • Consideration of others, in caring for the area and supporting social initiatives eg foodbank
  • People and generosity to one another
  • Caring and sharing of material resources and love

With the exception of blanking out the place name, these are as written from the suggestions. As a team, as we have conversations with many of you in the diocese - we already know these things! We know that there is so much strength in the communities within each of the areas, strengths in groups in churches, strengths, creativity, generosity and creativity in local communities. So, Waymark, was a space for developing, and in some cases deepening conversations, and so, thank you for those of you who stopped by and chatted to us.

We would love these conversations to continue, especially if there are areas that you think we, as team, could focus on in 2020, so, do let us know how we might help you to create flourishing communities where more gifts are able to be used.

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Your gifts in use - Holiday Clubs 2019
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Jenni Osborn leading the conversation

Mental health , Young people, Commmunity and Poverty

On Tuesday 24th September we hosted a conversation around the subject of Mental Health, and linking this with Young peoples, community work as well as thinking though faith and poverty. This was led by Jenni Osborn youth worker, schools and trainer.

The morning session began with a question

What would you say to your younger self?

This provided the opportunity for a number of responses, a reflective look back for each of us, whether we were 20 years old, 40 or 60 in the room. Following this, we were guided through various aspects of mental health, including diagnosis, stigma, and looking at a number of conditions. These were explored with a number of stories and examples.

We spent a while looking at some of the factors that might increase the likelihood of poor mental health (everyone can have variances of mental health) , these risk factors including exposure to abuse, alcohol misuse, discrimination and poverty, as well as others. Specifically we looked at Self harm and Eating disorders as cases, as these can be prevalent in young people (though not exclusively).

The morning concluded with the question:

Mental Health and Faith; how do they interact?

It was stated that it was widely recognised that churches, and more broadly being in community, being able to make decisions and having a sense of belonging are all important for positive mental health. So churches, where community and groups occur, can be significantly positive places for peoples mental health. Although, many examples are also known where peoples mental health suffers, or not helped by being involved in churches. Its like everywhere.

After Lunch we looked at the CUF Web of Poverty and how these related to the risk factors shared in the morning, and concluded the session with time to share of each others practices, with some attendees meeting others from the same town, others gaining new ideas.

All in all, the conversation raised the awareness and learning for many of the complexity of mental health, Jenni shared both the challenges, and appropriate responses that all of us can make in terms of being alongside people, listening and helping

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Some of the feedback from the content of the day included:

Appropriate knowledge on mental health for student and youth work
It gave me greater understanding of mental health, approaches, background and how the church responds
Good content, presentation and stories
It was good to learn about resources
really enjoyed content and discussion
Thank you for a friendly informative event

The following were responses about how the event might have an effect on the attendees:

'It will will help me to discuss mental health with children and young people'

'It will be good to open discussions with projects and what is being done to engage and involve young people'

'It will give me greater awareness of when working with young people'

'It will help me to become more vocal about young people'

Many thanks to Jenni Osborn for leading this stimulating and clearly positive, constructive conversation on mental health. As a result we have added a few new resources to the Resources centre, including Liz Edge's book on Emotional Health. Jenni's Grove Booklet will be published soon, and a link will be posted here when this is available. Do contact Jenni here, if you would like to book her for your organisation to deliver training or events on these themes.

Thank you to all who attended and took part, further follow up will be arranged with the CTD team, there may be a next conversation on these themes next year.

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Holiday Clubs

We have been visiting and supporting some of the fantastic holiday clubs that churches are hosting this summer - here is a bit about one from our friends at Woodhouse Close Church and Bishop Auckland Methodists.

Merci... Tack… Grazie… Danke… Thank you!

From Monday 5thAugust to Friday 9th August, Bishop Auckland Methodist Church was transformed into a travel bureau for “Backpackers” where there was fun, friendship and food for those attending. Each day, between 2pm and 5pm, the Travel Agent and Tour Guide and Travel Reps looked after over 60 children and young people. After listening to Bible stories, associated with Jesus’ travelling in his final days to Jerusalem, and taking part in games and craft activities in their groups, they all joined together for a hot meal.

The event was run by the Bishop Auckland Fellowship of Christian Churches, in partnership with the Auckland Project. Sports workshops for participants were provided by Leah Kennedy, Development Community Coach from North East Netball and Darren Brown, All Stars Champion from Durham Cricket. These sessions were a high point for many.

On Sunday 11thAugust we held a Family Celebration and BBQ with over 100 children, parents and volunteers.

Thank you to the Caroline Theobald, Honorary Swedish Consul who helped us with some facts about Sweden. Thank you to local Italian restauranteur, Franco and his brother, Stefano from Casa Nostra, who brought us the Italian flair, and thank you also to Cockney Nick who taught us about ‘Balls of Chalk’ and ‘Frogs and Toads’. Each day taught us to value the culture of the different parts of Europe and Britain that the Backpackers visited.

Thank you also to local supermarkets, businesses and grant funders who have all contributed to making this year’s Holiday Club an ongoing success.

Feedback from those attending and their parents, is overwhelmingly positive, with many people wanting the event to run again next year. Please contact Jenny Prior on bascircuitoffice@gmail.com or 07783946968 if you would like any information.

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Steph from Free Flow Hull, describing their workshop and activities

On Periods, Period Poverty and responses

On 20th August we held a first conversation on periods. Not solely about period poverty, yet we know this has been making the headlines over the last few years. But on periods more generally.

Our facilitators on the day were a new organisation, 'Free Flow Hull' (read about them in the link above), we heard how they developed a programme and workshops in Hull where they provide spaces for women to talk openly about periods, to share experiences, reflect on some of the taboos and power dynamics of language associated with periods.

As part of the day we experienced the workshop that they currently would do with groups of adults, including the taboos, limitations of current sanitary products available and what the alternatives are, and how they are used.

Questions were raised like: 'Why does the word 'period' need to be avoided, and colloquial terms used instead? (like 'aunt flow visiting', 'on the blob' or 'time of the month')

Where do these phrases come from, and why do they exist?

Steph and Rob shared stories from the workshops they lead, of how women have felt having talked about periods, and been able to make more positive choices regarding the way in which they manage their periods, through using different sanitary products that have less chemicals, and are cheaper and better for the environment in the long run.

Action is required on this... and it feels achievable (attendee feedback)

After lunch the group discussed some of the challenges and difficulties there are when having conversations about periods, including feeling queasy. Cultural factors and social factors were discussed, and talk was that many difficult issues are barely raised in churches (money, relationships etc) and periods is well down that list. Questions were posed about young people and specifically talking about periods in sex education, and how girls are often taken to one side to talk about periods, and boys can be excluded from this knowledge. We weren't sure if this still happens...

Its important to provide long term, not just immediate solutions

Throughout the day the attendees were given time to reflect on what they were learning, and consider how they might develop responses in their local context. A broad range was represented, urban and rural church, national or regional organisation, diocese and deanery responsibility, though sadly no men attended, outside of the CTD team - is this telling? But culture shift will take time. Men, we can do better - cant we?

Further questions were posed in regard to the responses such as :

  1. How might a response preserve human dignity?
  2. How might God be revealed in the response?
  3. How might community gifts be developed?
  4. How might the response tackle injustice?

A number of responses and ideas during the day already captured the essence of these, and each person left with further questions and ideas about this issue, thinking about how they personally or how they in their organisation might develop a response further.

It goes without saying that these conversations and ideas are at an early stage, though a number of the group had already begun developing local responses, and the team at Communities Together Durham are available to support these and new projects where they can.

It was a day that provided good knowledge, understanding and ideas, new angles on issues I was aware of

We are grateful to Free Flow Hull for their input into the day, for their approachable nature, passion and determination to help women (and men) to think about periods in a more positive way, a strength not a weakness, and to make more informed choices in regard to sanitary products. If you would like to hear more about Free Flow Hull, they can be contacted via their website which is here

Other feedback included:

It brought up and helped me be aware of problems and issues young women have
Really engaging session - thank you
Great to think about the environmental issues caused by sanitary products
Good to meet other people passionate about this subject
Really passionate about the subject of periods