A letter delivered by the Evangelical Alliance to the Prime Minister this week showcased the results of its Square Mile initiative to equip churches in supporting those who are struggling within their square mile radius.
The letter was delivered together with a Square Mile DVD by Steve Clifford, head of the Evangelical Alliance, Tim Bissett, chief executive of the Church Urban Fund, Mandy Ogunmokun of the Transform Network of Churches, and Sarah Richards, director of The Gap Project run by Cornerstone Church in Swansea.
The Gap Project is one of the initiatives highlighted in Square Mile resources. The project enables young people to make a fresh start by helping them to find work. In the Square Mile DVD, one participant, Craig, tells of how he went from a life of truancy and anti-social behaviour to receiving qualifications and a new attitude to life by taking part in a nine-month course at The Gap.
They saved me basically, he says of the project.
Ogunmokun was a heroin addict before being helped to Christianity through a friend who had also been a drug addict before coming to the faith. She was able to overcome her addiction after becoming a Christian and now works for the charity Treasures out of Darkness, which runs half-way houses for vulnerable women.
She said: Theres no high like the Most High. I got hooked to Jesus and my greatest desire now is to draw close to him.
Steve Clifford, General Director of The Evangelical Alliance said: The Square Mile initiative encourages Christians to let their faith impact all of their lives including caring for those around them.
It highlights the work the churches are already doing on the ground, serving their communities and making a positive impact, particularly for those who might fall through the cracks in society.
We are thrilled that the Government has recognised the good work of local churches and organisations and would hope that the Square Mile resources would re-energise their work.
The Big Society aims to see people do more to benefit their local communities. The Government has expressed its support for the involvement of faith groups in the Big Society, with Secretary of State Eric Pickles recently saying that faith groups were part of the solution to societys problems.
The initiative has been met with scepticism by some people who question whether it is simply a cost cutting exercise.
Christian groups, including the Evangelical Alliance and Faithworks, have been largely supportive, arguing that the Big Society is an opportunity to serve others and work in partnership with the Government.
Faithworks is about to embark on a tour across England to help churches consider their response to the Big Society.
The Big Response kicks off on September 25 at Havering and will also call in at Manchester, Bristol, Lincoln, Derby and Southampton. Christian Today