Social action superheroes shine at awards

Allchurches Trust had the privilege of handing a top honour to a charity that provides a lifeline to vulnerable and disadvantaged adults at the Christian Funders’ Forum Awards.

The Oasis Centre in Gorton, east Manchester, received the gold award in the Best Social Action Project category at Mercers’ Hall in London for its invaluable work supporting people to break the cycle of deprivation and poverty. The award was sponsored by Allchurches Trust, who also provided the Oasis Centre with a £13,000 grant in 2017.

Currently working out of a Methodist church hall, Oasis provides ‘whole person’ support for vulnerable people, including crisis support, free hot meals, a food bank, clothes store, an education programme and work club.

James Laing, Director of Grants and Relationships at Allchurches Trust, said: “The Oasis Centre is a fantastic example of an innovative and impactful social action project that continues to go from strength to strength. Allchurches Trust was able to give a grant of more than £13,000 in 2017 to help Oasis fund its new building, which will make an even wider range of support available to the individuals and families who need it most.

“This award recognises the vital work they are doing to help people to get their lives back on track and engage with their community, as well as their commitment to working with partners to make a real difference to people in Manchester.”

An early success story for the organisation is Dushy Caldera, who co-ordinates the centre’s RE-BUILD programme. A former client of the centre, Dushy progressed to become a volunteer and, in 2014, joined the staff. While in her voluntary position, Dushy trained on an access course in Social and Community Care, before enrolling on an accredited Advice and Guidance course, enabling the Oasis Centre to legally give advice. You can watch a video of Dushy’s story here.

The Christian Funders’ Forum is a group of executives of grant making trusts and foundations, which includes Allchurches Trust. Members of the forum grant more than £30 million a year to Christian work. The Forum meets regularly to encourage the sharing of best practice and to work together wherever that is possible.

The awards showcase powerful initiatives that have been at work in communities through the UK and demonstrate how faith groups contribute at least £3 billion worth of social and welfare support to the UK every year, helping 48 million people in the process.[i]

The silver award in the Best Social Action Project category went to Via Wings, who support disadvantaged families and individuals living in Dromore, Northern Ireland, and surrounding rural areas.

James added: “Via Wings is carrying out vital work in supporting disadvantaged people, working across historic sectarian divides in partnership with organisations representing a wide range of Christian denominations to amplify its reach and its impact.

“In 2016, we were able to provide funding to Via Wings to renovate its derelict premises, enabling them to provide enhanced and increased services to families experiencing financial hardship, sickness and other challenges in a safe space where they will not be judged. It’s wonderful to see their work for community and individual healing recognised by these awards.”

The bronze award went to the Kahaila Reflex Project, which is based in HMP Downview. The project delivers holistic courses that provide young women with the knowledge, skills and encouragement they need to build a positive life outside prison. Reflex workers deliver practical courses in prison, whilst addressing the other factors that prevent women from escaping their vulnerable situations.

Allchurches Trust supported Kahaila Church’s Luminary Bakery with a grant in 2015, funding a social enterprise set up to provide training, employment and a sense of community for vulnerable women in East London that increases their confidence and improve their resilience.

“The kind of support that Kahaila offers to women in prisons is vital to helping them realise their potential and giving them skills and knowledge to build a brighter future,” added James.

“It’s an incredible privilege to be part of the Christian Funders’ Forum, hearing such wonderful, heart-warming stories about the positive difference Christians are making in their communities. At Allchurches Trust, we’re in the fortunate position of hearing stories like these on a daily basis from our beneficiaries and I never fail to be impressed by the huge commitment of churches and Christian charities in tackling some of the biggest social issues our society faces today.

“These awards give thanks to the wonderful people who give up so much of their time, their skills and their love to make a difference to the lives of others, and shine a light on their great work so that their light shines more brightly.”

[i] According to research carried out by the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit in 2016, faith groups contribute at least £3 billion worth of social and welfare support to the UK every year, helping 48 million in the process.