Making connections

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More and more frequently, we receive referrals for people who are isolated and lonely without community and family around them. As Christians, we believe that we were not created to do life on our own! So many churches across York run all kinds of free activities for people, from all walks of life. Toddler groups, craft groups, choirs, drop-ins, Foodbanks, cafes, children’s clubs, walking groups, elderly groups, discussion groups, football clubs… the list goes on.

The Besom is all about bridging the gap between people who want to give and those in need. We realised that churches are giving their time, resources, skills and abilities to run groups for people across the city and we are receiving referrals for recipients who need these groups. From this, Connect was born.

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Connect is our new web page detailing free activities that churches across York are offering as they seek to show God’s love in action. So far, we’ve collated information from 15 different churches across York, although we’re sure there are more! We aim to get in touch with every church in the city by the end of the year and have a fully comprehensive list.

Please join us in praying for the people who use this new Connect resource. Let’s pray that new “bridges” will be formed with those in need with their local church. Let’s pray that relationships will blossom, that people will feel at home and that feeling isolated will no longer be a huge factor in so many people’s lives.

Do drop us an email if your church has free activities we could feature on Connect.

#weareaallaboutgiving

Becky Lewis, Co-ordinator, The Besom in York

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Faith has to make a difference

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“You can’t really get away from the call of God to help people in need. You can’t read the Bible and cut that out. If all the student groups in York did a project each term, just think what an impact that could have!”

Adam Mitchell-Baker, student worker at York’s G2 church, is thinking big. Having seen the impact Besom projects can have both on the givers and the recipients, he is happy to bang the drum about them. Last month, Adam led a team of G2 students in clearing out an overgrown garden in Tang Hall, but that was just the church’s most recent time of giving.

Adam has seen many students at G2 gain real encouragement in their faith as they show God’s love in action through the Besom. And while some do give time as individuals, it is often through the team aspect of doing a practical project that students are best able to serve.

“We’ve tried to do one project a term as a student group. They take it seriously and see it as a key part of living in the city. It’s a chance to contribute and bless other people. One of the core values of our student group is that we have a heart for our city. This is a really practical way for people to show that.”

The Tang Hall gardening project (above) took place at a home just round the corner from where one of the G2 students lived, which proved really eye-opening. During the course of the day, a team, of 12 got to work on the family’s garden, which had been blighted by rubbish thrown from a nearby alleyway. By the end, the garden was transformed.

Adam said: “They were having a kids’ birthday in a couple of weeks, but there just wasn’t any space to do that in the garden. Having more people involved means you can do quite a lot in one day. This was our fifth project in the last 18 months. People in our church have done other projects before, so it’s not just students getting involved. There are members of our church who are still friends with people they gave time to help six or seven years ago.”

G2 invite students to sign up for a Besom project during their freshers term – and they are encouraged to get stuck in throughout their university careers. It was through this that current co-ordinator Becky Lewis first discovered the Besom in York.

Hundreds of students are part of churches across York and we would love to help as many as possible give as God enables them.

Adam said: “We’ve even seen people’s housemates, who are not Christians, coming along on Besom projects. They see their Christian friends are different because they care in this way and some have come along to church and Alpha as a result.”

He added: “Faith has to make a difference, knowing God’s love for the poor and letting that make an impact in your actions. It’s not just G2 doing this, it’s lots of different churches across York. It’s not about building up your own good deeds. It’s great to have partnership with churches across the city.”

If you’d like to contact the Besom in York or have a story to share, our details are here.

 

Four wardrobes in one day (and other stories)

It’s been a while since our last blog entry, so here’s Becky Lewis, our Co-ordinator, with a bit of an update…

In both in March and April, it was awesome to have the Revive team from Vineyard church giving their time to help a couple of families decorate their homes. In one home, there was one wall with four layers of chipboard and wallpaper to take off – the team worked incredibly hard for hours, and the recipient was really pleased! They have also painted her kitchen and bathroom for her.

The second recipient the team helped was a mum-to-be and they spent an afternoon decorating the baby’s bedroom, getting it ready for her arrival. As this was happening, two members of the team collected a carpet that had been offered and brought it back to lay in the same recipient’s hallway. It was great to hear how the team helped her make her flat feel more like home.

We’ve had several van runs over the last couple of months, delivering everything from beds and kitchen utensils to four wardrobes in one day! It’s been amazing to help so many people give, and to have a new van giver too as I also learnt to drive the van this month (as you can see below)!

This week, we had a team of students from G2 church give their time to help clear a garden. The garden was full of rubbish, and they spent their time bagging it up and making the place safe for the children to play in. They did a brilliant job. Here is a before and after photo.

As a national organisation, the Besom has been sorting out how to be compliant with the new GDPR laws. This month after a few meetings, we’re particularly grateful to our trustees and all the hard work they’ve put in, helping us establish new processes and policies to be compliant.

We also collected lots of children’s bikes from Archbishop Holgate’s School. One of the teachers there runs a bike restoration project with some of the pupils and it’s been wonderful to give the bikes to children in York who don’t have any.

Over Easter, we were really blessed to receive not only some money from one congregation in York, but lots of Easter eggs! We had a really joyful time giving them to recipients all over York, so a huge thank you to those who donated them.

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If you’d like to get in touch, our contact details are here. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

The difference a table and chairs can make

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A spot of office team painting

It’s getting towards the end of February, so it’s probably about time we updated our blog!

We spent the beginning part of January recovering from Christmas! Christmas hamper season was so very busy, but absolutely brilliant. It was a joy to help so many give hampers across the city.

So far this year we’ve had a team from Trinity Church give their time to help a hamper recipient decorate his flat. It was such an encouragement to us that they wanted to help him in this way. Afterwards, the recipient told us he was ‘over the moon’ with his flat. They’d even managed to lay down some carpet for him when they finished.

The office team have also been painting! St Columba’s Church in which we are based is renovating one of the rooms here, so we all pitched in to help decorate. It was a really great day, working closely with volunteers from The Island charity who are based in the office next door.

We’ve also had bit of trouble with the van! Unfortunately it broke down on us and had to have a new clutch – an expensive fix. We prayed and God provided. Amazingly, we were given three times the amount of money we needed to fix it. God really does provide in abundance.

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James Odgers speaking at the Northern Besom conference

At the beginning of February we went to the Northern Besom conference on the Wirral. It was wonderful to see the growth of the Besom there, learn about the area and meet to encourage one another. It was great to hear James Odgers, who founded the Besom nationally, speak too.

We have also had the ReVive team from York Vineyard church carry out their first project this year. They spent an afternoon stripping lots of wallpaper off a hallway for a young mum. They hope to go back and paint it next month too.

My favourite story of the year so far has been helping to give a table and chairs. The family had two young children and nowhere for them to sit and eat. We dropped a table and chairs to them on the Wednesday, generously given by a gentleman in Clifton and went round to see them on Thursday. “You won’t believe how much difference the table and chairs have made to our lives in just 24 hours!”. Their little boy was sat at the table eating his breakfast. It really made me think about how we take furniture like a table and chairs for granted. It was such a blessing to see their gift being used and making a huge difference in such a small space of time.

Becky Lewis, The Besom in York Co-ordinator

 

 

 

 

Unhampered giving!

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Some of our hamper making team getting stuck in at our HQ – St Columba’s URC York

December is Christmas hamper month at the Besom in York. It’s always a whirlwind of activity as we seek to match hamper referrals with givers who have offered to make them up. But it is also a time when we’re even more acutely aware of our reliance on God. No matter how planned we try to be, we have to trust Him to provide all we need for this blitz of giving that happens in a few short weeks.

You can read hamper stories from previous years in posts like this one and we have even been featured on Songs of Praise. But this year, we just want to share a couple of snippets and a few photos to celebrate how God has been at work.

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The production line

It can be easy for the Besom in York core team to feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of hamper referrals we receive. After all, we only have limited pairs of hands! Therefore, it was a great answer to prayer when 13 givers turned up at Besom HQ to be part of the production line last Thursday. This was a massive encouragement.

We love it when givers really embrace hamper season as God prompts them to get involved. In one case, a lady saved up all her Nectar points from the year to spend on hamper goodies. We have heard too of a church who, having delivered a hamper to a recipient, are now planning to decorate his bedroom and give him a wardrobe.

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Hamper givers from York College

Elsewhere, Besom supporter and regular blogger Lucy Rycroft described some of her own hamper-giving experiences in this post.

You can see the full Christmas hampers 2017 photo album on Facebook. If you like a bit of social media, why not follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

That’s all for now folks. All that remains is to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

 

The mattress that meant so much

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Van runs are a staple of our week at The Besom in York as we collect items given and deliver them to our recipients. But what’s it like to be on the van team? Here, office time giver and St Columba’s URC York Intern Katie Golden tells her story.

The first time I went on a van run with The Besom, it was a bright sunny day. I went out with experienced van giver, Sam, and a new giver named Peter. Sam expertly steered us through the winding streets of York and out onto more open road towards Pocklington.

As a newcomer to York, I couldn’t stop staring out the windows at the beautiful fields rolling by and the clean, bright homes flanked by green lawns and lush trees.

I met recipients and givers over the next three hours, and was awed both by the generosity of Besom givers and the strength of the recipients. It was amazing to see how, in God’s sovereignty, everything came together on the van run, despite the many puzzle pieces to fit into place.

12961400_10154071496912436_1288486162611672837_oWe received an extra mattress in addition to the one originally offered, and by the end of the day it found a home with a family who really needed it. We pulled up to a recipient’s home and he wasn’t around yet. After we’d waited for a while, we decided to leave, and suddenly there he was, walking down the street. And we pulled up to Bundles of Joy headquarters, unsure of exactly where to go, only to see a Bundles giver walking in who gladly took our baby donations.

Though I spent a happy few hours in the van in conversation with Sam and Peter and enjoying the scenery, I was also shocked at how the beauty of my adopted country contradicted the severe need of people that we were serving.

In a tidy neighborhood filled with sturdy brick homes, a woman and her son lived without beds, mattresses, and other basic furniture. The son slept on a pile of blankets on the floor. It was meaningful to give this family a mattress, because it meant so much. But it was also sad, because we all knew they needed so much more.

I felt so at peace on the day of the van run and reflected on the fact that God loves us all – whether we are poor or wealthy, clean or dirty, needy or self-sufficient. God loves us in spite of our vices – our addictions, bad habits, and flaws. He loves us all equally.

The Besom seek to treat everyone they serve with dignity and respect and in so doing, they are acting in a way that reflects God. They are showing God’s love. Just as God exists in the sunny, green Yorkshire fields, He is there in a home filled with need. He is love, and He is everywhere.

It was crazy to think that a few hours of my time could impact her life so much

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The G2 student team in action
We love it when churches give their time to carry out projects with The Besom in York. Here’s Mary Kangley’s account of what happened when she and a team of fellow students at G2 got stuck in to some decorating.
When the student worker at my church asked for volunteers for a local Besom project to help decorate a lady’s house, I knew I wanted to sign up straight away.
At university, it’s very easy to get stuck in a cycle of student culture, and suddenly you find yourself disconnected from the outside world, when you haven’t seen your parents or grandparents in months, and the only people you talk to are your own age. The only time I spent away from university and my studies was at church, and whilst that’s great, I still wanted a way to serve the community in which I live.
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When I turned up at the house, which is only down the road from where I lived in my second year at uni, I met the lady we were to help out, and her immediate gratitude was so fulfilling. It was crazy to think that a few hours of my time could impact her life so much.
We began with a prayer, not only praying for ourselves and the work we were about to do, but also for the home and the recipient of our service. She left and we began painting. It was surprisingly therapeutic and a welcome break from constant study!
After a few hours she returned to a newly painted house. We’re by no means professionals, but she looked past the imperfect edges and saw a house turned into a home by some willing students. It was an amazing opportunity, and I’ll definitely be signing up the next time I get a chance!