There is a deeply felt need to reach out to our local community in order to meet with people at the point of their humanitarian needs. This is reflected in such activities as a weekly Luncheon Club and a Carer & Toddler Group that meets on two mornings a week (approximately 50 attendees). There is also support from the church for a ‘Street Pastors’ scheme operating in the nearby Bridgend town centre where members of the fellowship are trained and participate regularly.
Gilgal also lends support to the local branch of the Bridgend foodbank, with members of the community team being actively involved in the operations; linking with other local churches and the local Samaritans group. The church also supports Christians against Poverty (CAP).
On a more global scale, in recent years Gilgal has taken an active interest in issues of world poverty and societal needs. For example, we have taken on the Micah Challenge as our own and Gilgal is also a Fairtrade Church with members active in the promotion and sale of Fairtrade goods in the town.
Gilgal has also had close contact with the area’s local MP; supporting her work on world poverty issues (G8 Meetings, etc), human rights and environmental issues consistent with Gilgal’s commitment to our Micah Challenge.
Community Ministry Team
Team Members: Alison Westwood, Ann Day, Glenys Jenkins, Rob Jones, Hazel Calder, Steve Rogers, Diane Johnson, Margaret Hornsby.
Foodbank Co-ordinator: Alison Westwood
Lunch Club Organiser: Margaret Hornsby
Traidcraft Representative: Hazel Calder
What we did in 2015:
We continued to support Fair Trade within both the Church and Town and have encouraged people to continue buying the fairly traded products on a regular basis, either from the supply held in Church or increasingly from the local Supermarkets. We took part in a number of Fair Trade Partnership events including Fair-trade Fortnight and the Porthcawl Carnival. The special Christmas catalogue and Easter eggs continued to be popular.
Although sadly we have lost a number of our elderly Lunch Club members during the year, numbers have continued to increase steadily over the period. We consistently have numbers in the mid 50s each week. The team is strong and works well together, not only in providing the food and the relaxed atmosphere which people love, but also giving customers the opportunity to chat to team members and share and pray through their worries and concerns. It is linking well with the Wednesday morning service and the numbers attending this before coming into lunch have increased.
Moving the Foodbank to the “Y” centre and opening the extra session on the Thursday, proved very successful. We have continued to meet the increasing demands, not only for food parcels but also in other areas such as loneliness, depression and issues of debt and substance abuse, in a much more welcoming café style environment. We have provided refreshments as well as the opportunity to chat and pray with clients, signposting them when necessary to other support organisations in the area. Having built a strong link with the Bridgend branch of the Samaritans, they now attend both the Porthcawl and the Cornelly Foodbank sessions on a regular basis and have taken a number of valuable opportunities to chat to clients attending.
The befriending initiative is working well. This is an important aspect, not only between volunteers and clients but also amongst the volunteers themselves. There have been several opportunities to witness to non-Christian clients and team members. We have been able to escalate a desperate accommodation issue for one of our homeless clients and are currently working with them, as well as Social Services, to progress this, hopefully to a successful conclusion.
During the year, the local police identified a need for additional Street Pastor cover in Porthcawl for certain weekends in the year – especially the Elvis, Fireworks and Carnival Weekends. A small team of volunteers staffed the teams on these specific events and provided a valuable service, benefitting both the public and the local businesses. However, the need for the Street Pastors in the Bridgend area has declined over the past few months and, since Christmas, our Porthcawl team have not been actively involved. A new rota should be issued very soon but no new training courses were planned at the moment.
A Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Money Course, designed specifically to help people with budgeting and other aspects of personal financial management, was held during the year.
What we hope to do in 2016:
We will continue to concentrate on the main areas of Community Service mentioned above and, where possible will expand our links with other voluntary organisations in the area as well as other Ministry Teams.
The Food Bank has recently built a valuable link with Mental Health Matters Wales and this organisation, which offers befriending groups mainly for the over 50 age group, has expressed an interest in working alongside us at the Porthcawl centre on several Thursdays during the month.
Following the sad death of one of the Porthcawl Food Bank volunteers, Dave Walsh, donations in his memory raised over £2000 specifically for the Porthcawl Foodbank. We plan to use some of it purchase a dedicated Laptop Computer. This will be used to access accommodation and job search information for clients and help them prepare CVs as well as improving the general administration tasks for the centre itself.
We understand that a defibrillator is possibly being obtained for use at the Park Avenue site and we plan to organise Emergency Life Support Training Sessions (for both Adults and Children), as well as First Aid Training courses in the near future.