Congratulations to Annie Merry from Faiths4Change who was awarded the Echo Environmental Champion Award last week. We spoke to her about receiving the award.
Annie was awarded this accolade at the annual Echo Environment Awards at the Isla Gladstone Centre on 30th April 2015. The award recognises an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the development of environmental and health initiatives in our region. Presenting the award, the Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Revd Paul Bayes, said Annie had been fundamental to the organisation’s success and the breadth and depth of its benefits which have been felt across our region.
We spoke to Annie about how she felt when her name was called out at the award ceremony. Annie said “After the initial shock of winning the award, I’m really pleased to have the work of Faith4change recognised.”
Faiths4change work with a number of partner organisations, including the Diocese of Liverpool; “Our work links community, faith and the environment." Annie continues. "To me, the three are intrinsically linked. All of our work is undertaken in collaboration with partners from local communities, faith communities and organisations from all sectors. We believe that sharing resources with everyone involved encourages cooperation and lays the foundation for sustainable action. It is also important to point out that we work with people that aren’t from a faith background but find themselves supported by us in a number of non worship ways.”
It is this ‘faith in action’ ethos that is central to the organisation’s mission of working for sustainable, just and connected communities. Annie gives some examples of how this vision is realised in practice:
“We work with schools to plan, create and develop outdoor spaces that reflect their spirituality, creativity and the health and well-being needs of their school community. It's really inspiring working with all members of a school community to enable them to realise their vision.These ‘faith gardens’ or ‘faith trails’ impact positively on the daily life of the school beyond the R.E. curriculum. The spaces become living examples of caring for God’s creation, practical way that the schools can use to engage.
We have been working with Asylum Link Merseyside since 2009. Asylum Link is an organisation dedicated to assisting Asylum Seekers and Refugees. The Better Lives project is focused on introducing affordable living skills; how to cook healthy seasonal meals, learning how to grow food, reusing and recycling textiles and sewing skills.”
Building, growing and sustaining faith communities is crucial as we know here at the Diocese of Liverpool as we embrace the Bishop's Growth Agenda. St Christopher’s, Norris Green started the ‘Norris Green Fingers’ community garden project over 10 years ago supported by Faiths4change. “We still have a strong connection with the community to this day" explains Annie. "Every summer we get together for a harvest festival and last year we had Muslim friends from Asylum Link cooking with us for a big parish meal. This is an excellent example of how a community has benefited from practical activity, caring for the environment and creation. This demonstrates church in action and shares the church with the local community."
So what’s next for Faiths4Change? They currently have a few projects coming up as they continue their excellent work across our region. Please see box to the right for more information.
Sew Many Trees
Participants have transformed old and unwanted textiles into a forest of sewn trees.
The exhibition will be taking place from the 15th-29th of June in locations across Merseyside, including Central Library, the Quaker Meeting House, Mann island and the International slavery Museum.
Heaths Marian Trail
A public walk of the trail will be held on Sunday 24th May at 2pm, with the red-ribbon being cut by the new mayor of St Helens.
For more information please visit Faiths4Change website.