Bringing God's grace and healing love
to people with life-disrupting problems
Crisis Centre Ministries ('CCM') works in inner-city Bristol, offering love and practical help to the most needy members of our society. We mainly work with people who are, or who have been, homeless. Most of them are struggling with many complex issues: addiction, abuse, criminality, family breakdown, physical and mental health problems, little or no formal educationů the list seems to go on forever.
We have a holistic, client-centred approach: the aim is not to solve problems for people, but to build relationships, and help our clients begin to believe that life can change for the better. We don't have a programme we push everyone through, but try to respond to each person's needs, concerns and priorities.
Many people first make contact through the 'Wild Goose' - our coffee shop, which also functions as a drop-in centre, perhaps because they were given a meal voucher by one of our supporters. This is a great way to help people who are begging without giving them money.
The Open Day in July was a tremendous success, providing a opportunity for existing supporters to come and meet the people involved in the ministry, and for some who were simply curious to find out more. Many folk said they went away encouraged and enthused by the experience. Chris Vacher from the BBC came and opened the event and unveiled the new name for our Coffee Shop - the Wild Goose. Preparing for it was a lot of work, so we plan to hold the next one in the Spring or early Summer of 2004.
Each LITE Course graduation is a precious event - often a time when the people who have contributed to a course come together and celebrate. It is sometimes hard to keep the tears from our eyes as we hear the students describe what they have achieved and how they have changed through the course - and, of course, through the people who give some much time and care to them through the all the ups and downs. And, wonderfully, many of the students also testify to the way in which God has touched their lives and changed them since they started to follow Jesus.
Members of the Bridgehead Church, at their own request, did a dramatic performance for our customers at the Christmas party. This was very warmly received, making us feel that all the rehearsals had been worth while, and helped encourage people to think about Christmas while giving them a good laugh.
This was an example of something we are pleased to be seeing more of - people who have been helped through the ministry, sometimes quite recently, reaching out to others. Learning to give, learning to be a blessing to others, is a transforming experience for those who have for years only been worried about what they can get.
Nick Wood has joined us for six months as the Coffee Shop Manager. He is making a valuable contribution, enabling us to be more effective in helping people through the coffee shop. Amongst other initiatives, he has started 'CCM Link' - a monthly news-sheet for our volunteers - which is helping these vital people understand something more of the work they are doing, and to see more of the wider picture they are a part of. We hope to recruit a permanent replacement for Nick in the Autumn.
One of our volunteers has been pioneering an important ministry to our clients who end up in hospital - supporting them through the stay in hospital, and helping them find something suitable when they are ready to leave. We expect this work to grow over the coming year.
Trudie is well into the final year of her counselling course, and many people have benefited from this. It would be good to find another trained counsellor who could share some of the workload with Trudie, and also a secretary or administrator who could take some of that work off her shoulders, leaving her more time for people.
I am due to start a part-time MTh this Autumn, which is a daunting prospect. I am looking forward to the studies, but finding the necessary time is not going to be easy.
We continue to work alongside many other groups in and around Bristol. A lot of the useful networking takes place through BCAN and the BCAN Homeless Forum, which we continue to organise. This year, BCAN and CCM have jointly sponsored a monthly training programme for volunteers working with homeless people, which has been very much appreciated.
We have also had the privilege of helping in the establishment of Andrew House in Clevedon, which provides supported housing for our client group. We need many more places like this
We are grateful to so many people and organisations, churches and businesses, who help in so many different ways. CCM is a faith ministry. Many people are surprised to hear that we receive no official funding. It is only possible because of the grace of God, an amazing team of staff and volunteers, and many wonderful people in the background supporting us with their prayers and gifts.
As always, we welcome invitations from churches and other groups - to speak at services, homegroups and other events: to inspire, to inform, or just answer questions. We can offer anything from a five-minute spot to a full day's programme. You can contact us at the office, 12 City Road, or via the web site at www.crisis-centre.org.uk.