Beyond Ourselves

‘Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute.
Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.’
(Proverbs 31:8–9)

We focus the majority of our giving on six charities. These have been chosen after reflecting on the many, varied challenges facing our community, country and worldwide neighbours, so that we support a wide range of needs – for example, helping women learn to read and so opening up life opportunities (international), or support for prisoners (national) and people with learning disabilities (local).

By concentrating on this selection we hope to learn about them, keep updated with their work and pray effectively – we want to be partners in mission. Especially with the local charities, members of our two churches may be able to give practical help. Each of the six organisations has a Charity Champion who is the main link between the parish and the charity.

The remaining Beyond Ourselves budget is an emergency fund, so we are able to respond as urgent needs arise. Additionally we give to local and national homelessness charities by taking collections at Christmas services; knit for Mission to Seafarers; and support Basics Bank with donated goods.

The main charities the parish currently gives to:

Barnabas Aid supports Christians facing persecution as a consequence of their faith. It responds to needs identified by local Christian leaders and provides wide-ranging physical and spiritual support. It also raises awareness of the plight of the persecuted Church and contests cases of injustice when requested by the individuals involved.

Currently, it is giving specialist emotional support to those suffering trauma following attacks on churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Armenian Christians in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh are besieged, but Barnabas Aid is managing to reach them with urgent supplies of food and medicine. In the aftermath of the catastrophic floods in Pakistan in 2022, Pakistani Christians received emergency aid. Now they are getting help to rebuild their homes.

The Boaz Project was founded by the foster parents of a young man with Down’s syndrome. It is situated near Sutton Scotney, and forms part of a farm.

To quote its brochure: ‘We provide a place where our members, adults with learning disabilities, get together and are valued for who they are as people’. The members, who make daytime visits, grow food, tend the garden, make things (there is an impressive woodwork room), search for fresh-laid eggs (there are hundreds of chickens), look after animals, cook, and so on. Volunteers help the members to fulfil their potential.

The leader, Stuart Palmer, would love closer links with our parish and may be able to come and speak to us about the project and its inspiring work.

Feed the Minds is a Christian charity with over 50 years of experience of delivering practical education projects in low-income countries. It aims to educate and positively impact communities, ensuring that needs are met and voices heard. This is then fed back into the design, evaluation and monitoring of programmes.

Last year its teams and global partners delivered a programme on Covid. Sadly they face the hard reality that in the regions the work is focused, the pandemic is far from over, and support is needed more than ever.

Educating one member of a family changes the lives of many.

Southampton and Winchester Visitors’ Group (SWVG) works with refugees and asylum seekers in the local area. It offers one-to-one support and befriending, provides modest financial assistance to individuals in need and offers English-language tuition.

It also organises activities for asylum seekers who have few resources of their own and may have little to occupy their time. While they are gathering evidence to support their asylum claims it helps destitute people and arranges access to legal advice where necessary. It works closely with other local charities, churches and community groups. In addition the group campaigns for a fairer and more efficient asylum system which will treat people with respect and compassion and process applications in a timely fashion.

Spurgeons is a Christian charity with a particular local connection, providing family support services at HMP Winchester.

When a child’s parent goes to prison it’s a daunting experience for everyone involved. Vicky Baird and her valiant team see fathers in prison as dads first and foremost and encourage them to be positive and proactive in their parenting role, and to be the best parent they can be. Through the award-winning Invisible Walls programme, the sessions they run are practical, non-judgemental and emotionally supportive. They also enable children to spend more ‘normal’ time with their dads through family days, baby-bonding visits and homework clubs.

It’s a privilege to be able to focus our support at the prison in this way and we’re looking forward to learning more about the great work Spurgeons is doing so near to us.

Tearfund is a Christian charity that partners with churches and organisations in more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries, often reaching communities and situations we are barely aware of. It tackles poverty and injustice through sustainable development, by responding to disasters and by challenging injustice.

It also has a history of working on environmental and climate change issues. It describes its mission as following Jesus where the need is greatest. Its vision is to see people freed from poverty, living transformed lives and fulfilling their God-given potential.

Tearfund’s work is underpinned by prayer and informed by scripture; its approach is clear and positive. It is grateful for our partnership in its ministry.