When I first found out that I had been nominated to go to the Patron’s Lunch it was by email from CUF. As I didn’t understand my Office Manager Joy said ‘Its a surprise, Rev Irene Whitaker ( Our Chair) has nominated you to go’. I am not used to surprises and don’t deal with them very well and could think of all the reason’s why I couldn’t or shouldn’t go. My husband Chris, in a nice way told me ‘to get a grip’ and go it would be an experience I would always remember. I am so glad he did because it was.
On the 12th we arrived in London at 11.00 in the pouring rain, my Trustee Barbara Hardwick accompanied me. A long queue met us and after about 20 minutes we were issued with the famous ponchos, we looked a treat. We entered the Mall and found our table with the rest of the CUF staff and two other projects from around the country. It was lovely to meet them all. I then collected our hampers, they were fantastic, the food was wonderful, we were also given a goody bag from Boots, with various items including their famous ‘serum’ so not only was I going to have a great day but in two weeks time if I used it I would look ten years younger!
The atmosphere was wonderful, everyone was happy and the sun came out. The Royal Family did a walkabout for about 30 minutes which was lovely. We spoke to Prince Edward and Sophie. Overall it was a wonderful once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad I went.
I first started work with the Diocese in 1997 at St. Paul’s Fazakerley as their Family Support Worker, after 10 years I them worked in Resources with Kath Rogers for 3 years and then came to Bootle. During that time I applied for funding for my own project and others across the Diocese to CUF who were a great funder for new projects giving them a good process to go through to ensure their project had everything in place. Getting CUF funding often helped get other funders on board. All in all they have paid my salary or part of for the past 20 years!!
I do have a passion for working in the community and enabling and supporting local people, I think for me it is all about ‘relationships’ if you can gain sometimes trust you are able to walk with them and encourage the take on a new challenge, new course, new job. I may be biased but I think church projects do this very well.
John Davis from Together Liverpool explains why Debbie was chosen.
We chose Debbie and the St Leonard’s team (represented by Barbara a senior volunteer) to attend the Queen’s Birthday celebrations in the Mall (representing the Church Urban Fund one of Her Majesty’s charities) as they work really hard every day for their community – they host the South Sefton Foodbank, the Credit Union and are engaged now in debt counselling and so many other issues. This centre is a beacon of hope in Bootle where may are experiencing real poverty and hopelessness. It is always open for people to call in and has built up a really strong team with Debbie Shelley at the helm see http://www.stleonardsyouthandcommunitycentre.com/#!home/mainPage
As you know I am now at St. Leonard’s I have given a brief overview of what we currently do.
Older Persons Project Poppies (Promoting Older Persons Pastimes Information Education and Socialising)
We now have 14 staff
South Sefton Foodbank:
We have 9 distribution Centres mainly in churches
220 Agencies currently give out our vouchers
We feed around 1000 people a month
Since we opened in 2013 we have fed just on 34,000
Last week we won Sefton Volunteer Involving Project of the Year 2016, this recognised our volunteers and the training and support we give them. We still have all the volunteers we started with 3 years ago they are wonderful we could not run without them.
For us it has always been more than just giving a bag of food and our volunteers signpost to other agencies. Last year we began our Lottery Community Resilience Project with the help of a large grant of £405k
We now have a Money Management and Debt Advisor in partnership with St. Andrew’s Clubmoor.
We also have a Community Resilience Officer who offers courses, self help groups, pathways back into work, and links our work in with some of our agencies.