No matter how different or difficult…

This week Carly from Bundles of Joy tells us about two of their recent recipients and how Bundles has been blessing families in York over the last few months.

Over the summer months we’ve been a bit quieter here at Bundles of Joy, but there are two big referrals I’d love to tell you about. These were sent to us almost as soon as they found out they were expecting, and so we’ve been chatting to the new mums and collecting the items for these bundles for a few months now – we call these kinds of referrals our ‘slow burners’.

These two mums to be, on paper, could not be more different. Abbie* is a teenager, preparing for her exams and life as a young single mum, while Sophie*, is an older lady with her own home and a stable job that she loves, but practically no support network.

As the months have passed, it appeared that they have more in common than we first thought. Both ladies have had mental health issues, no partner on the scene initially, owned practically nothing for their new babies, and didn’t really know what they needed, or what to ask for when we asked them what they would like.  

The great thing about having had so much time to get these bundles ready is that we have been able to really cover them with prayer and add many items over time. If you’ve given anything over the last six months, there is a good chance something from your gift has made its way into one of these bundles!


A lot of love and care goes into each one of these Bundles of Joy!


After great initial contact, Sophie disappeared off our radar, and we wondered how we were going to be able to get her bundle to her before she was due to give birth. We knew she had lost her job and was struggling with anxiety. All we could do was pray for her. After a worrying few months, we were contacted by the baby’s father, who let us know that Sophie had given birth. It was wonderful to finally be able to hand over Sophie’s bundle and to hear how she and the baby were getting on. Although he was understandably a bit shell-shocked by being a new dad, he was so excited to be able to take the bundle straight to Sophie in hospital, who had nothing. He was overwhelmed by the four boxes we were able to give him; he’d only been expecting the one!


Abbie’s delivery was a lot more straightforward. It was the hottest day of the summer, and pregnancy does entail napping a lot, so it wasn’t really a surprise that, when we arrived at Abbies house, she was fast asleep!  Her grogginess soon turned to what I can only describe as bewilderment, as we kept going back to the car for more bags and boxes. After a few minutes, we had everything inside and her hallway was full. It was then that I got to do something Id never done before on a delivery: I stood and had a chat with Abbie. There is a reason why Rachel does most of the face to face work with our recipients, Im not great at talking to people I don’t know, but there was no problem here! Abbie and I chatted about pregnancy, GCSEs, what was in the bundle (and what was still to be delivered). I saw Abbie change right before my eyes, from a tired and confused young teenager to a young woman who had more of a sense of purpose about her. Although not knowing what the future holds for her, she was more prepared to meet the turmoil of the next few months and years with determination and anticipation.


Both of these new mums have taught us at Bundles of Joy that God absolutely has His hand on these families.

No matter how different or difficult a situation might be, we all have something in common, that God is a God who cares deeply, and through Him, we can care ever more deeply for the families of York.

It is a privilege to see His hand guiding Bundles of Joy to those who need it most.


School Uniforms

Rob Ainsworth, co-ordinator of The Besom in York, reports on some very timely giving.
It’s September, so that means back to school for many children in York. And for many of them it will be their first time at school or nursery.
I’ve loved seeing the photos of my friends’ and family’s children posted on social media proudly wearing their new uniform (with plenty of growing room in them).
Last week, as these photos of the children appeared on my social media news feed, we had a number of encouragements about school uniforms in the Besom office.
Many families cannot afford new school uniforms for their children and, only the week before, a referrer from the child-in-need team at the council had asked if we could help buy uniforms for a number of children in York. Earlier that week we’d received some money in the post to be spent “on the next need” so we were really encouraged to be able to use that money to provide vouchers for uniforms and shoes.
I love how God loves to provide for families! He had already provided the money that was needed to provide families and children in York with the uniform they needed for the beginning of the new school year.
In the same morning, we were sitting in the office wondering what to do with a big American-style fridge freezer (see picture above) that had been collected the night before.
It was an answer to prayer for us to find a home for it and a real answer to prayer for a family with 7 children to receive it! God really does provide for his children!
Later in the week I bumped into a Besom time giver in York city centre. She has become good friends with some of the refugee families in York and she showed me pictures of some of the teenage boys who were just starting at secondary-school in York.
Out of all of the photographs I’ve seen of kids in uniforms this last week – these were the ones that encouraged me the most (even more so that my 3 cute nieces!)! Why? Because they were pictures of children who, if not for the intervention and giving of people in York, would not have had the opportunity to even go to school, let alone be able to buy or wear the same uniforms that others were wearing.

Finding a way to enable giving

besom in york logo

This week, Kirsten Nott, a core team member with the Besom in York, looks at the importance of how we give.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9 v 7, NIV)

Most people, when reading this verse, focus on the latter half: ‘not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’. This is of course a very important message, because giving ceases to be a true gift if it is done without joy or because we feel we ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to give in a certain way. Here at the Besom in York, we too love a cheerful giver and, thankfully, we meet many of them. But people tend to skip over the first part of the verse, or at least don’t give it as much attention.

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give…”

The Besom does not ask people to give in any specific way; we are here to enable people to give, in whatever way they choose, to those in need. It can be as big or small, or as weird or mundane as you like, it’s the decision to give that’s important. Whether you have a lot to give, or a little, it’s how you give it that counts. That’s why we have the hashtag: #weareallaboutgiving.


Recently we have seen people offering to give in a number of different ways, including picking up dog poo and hosting princess parties. We have also spent some time thinking and praying about alternative ways to give and enabling givers to actually go out on the van and give their things themselves. One giver who gave a triple sleeper bed actually went along on the van with our co-ordinator, Rob Ainsworth, to deliver it to the family who needed it personally. As a core team, it is our job to find a way for people to give however they want; whatever they have decided in their heart to give.

A couple of weeks ago I had an accident that means I’m going to be off my feet for a few months. As a, usually, very busy person this is extremely frustrating as it means that I can’t do many of the things that I normally do; including giving through the Besom by being in the office and doing assessments. I actually feel pretty useless. But I am reminded that it doesn’t matter what we give, it’s how we give it and in this time I’ve found a new freedom in giving.

Money making a difference


Rob Ainsworth, co-ordinator of The Besom in York, looks at how we have been able to use some financial gifts.

At the Besom we specialise in helping churches and Christians in York give what they have to those in need. A lot of the core team’s time is spent equipping individuals and families to give furniture and household items, or enabling church groups to complete time-giving projects.

This week we thought we’d highlight some examples of how and where money donated by givers in York has made a difference for those in need in the city.

  1. £50 bought a stroller-pram for a young mum and daughter struggling without one.
  2. £240 ordered three tonnes of blue slate chippings to cover the garden of a recipient who due to disability struggled to keep it on top of the weeds.
  3. £300 bought a new cooker for a grandma, mum and baby son in a specific neighbourhood in York.
  4. £202 meant that we were able to pay for a skip for an elderly man to clear his garden. A number of people had taken advantage of him and fly-tipped there.
  5. £165 installed two cookers for two families.
  6. £40 bought top soil to fill holes in a garden left by a gardener who took advantage of a mum and didn’t finish a job.

    Rob Ainsworth
  7. £14.99 purchased a pair of anti-allergy pillows for a dad without any, £20 bought bedding to go with them. This combined well with a bed given and delivered to him.
  8. £160 bought a set of bunk beds for children in Clifton. (The price was discounted without our asking!)
  9. £110.31 meant we could order three mattresses for three cots to add to three bundles that were given out to new parents in the city.
  10. £69.99 was spent on a new microwave for a young family needing to sterilise bottles.

If you or your church is interested in giving with the Besom in York, click here for more information. Our contact details can be found here.





I can’t wait to see their houses become homes

Becky Lewis

This week, Becky Lewis, a core team member with the Besom in York, reflects on the danger of assumptions.

Carrying out assessments never ceases to humble me.

Last week I had two booked in back to back. As I pulled up outside the first house I did what we all do. I assumed. I assumed that because the house looked lovely on the outside, there probably wasn’t much need on the inside.

I honestly think our assumptions about other people’s lives cause us to avoid questions like “how are you really?” And “do you need anything?”. Questions that definitely could have helped both the women I met that day.

Inside, the house was bare. Her baby was crawling on a hard floor with no carpet. There were no curtains. She was clearly finding things hard. All this as a result of domestic violence.

Sadly, the second woman I met was much the same. She had just moved from a refuge. We stood in her living room, no carpet, no table, no TV, no curtains. She’d only just managed to get somewhere to sit. Again, all due to escaping domestic violence.

Two women in the UK die every week due to domestic violence. A horrific statistic that doesn’t seem to be very well known and the amount of people who are referred to us because of it saddens me.


But the joy of doing assessments, the joy of seeing people give through the Besom, is hope. It’s amazing to go back to the office, check the emails and see people want to give the things these ladies need. I can’t wait to see their houses become homes as people give time, money and things to help them. I love seeing God provide for His children.

So a challenge for you. Ask people how they are. How they really are. Don’t assume. The more we look out for the people around us, the less the need will be.


Small but Significant Answers

From time to time we like to devote the blog to small but significant answers to prayer & ways we’ve seen God provide in and through the Besom office. There is no particular story to follow or specific givers sharing their story but rather small snapshots of God’s great story working out in York.
  • One morning we had a phone call asking for some double bedding. Kirsten checked the cupboard to find we didn’t have any. A phone call a couple of minutes later offering double duvets and sheets.
  • Last week on the van we were offered a microwave we weren’t expecting, only to find the next recipient on the van sheet needed a microwave.
  • Two weeks ago we had one fridge and two homes, later that morning we offered a fridge that was pretty much brand new. The recipient said, “it’s really nice to be helped out”.
  • We had been offered a freezer and didn’t have a home for it – after some prayer, we met a new recipient who had the perfect spot for it in his kitchen.
  • We were asked for a triple sleeper bunk bed by a large family. Another family offered a bunk bed that turned out to be a triple sleeper – exactly what the recipient asked for – we look forward to delivering that one very soon.
  • Recently we’ve been praying for links with new churches – so far we’re booked into speak at 4 churches in the Autumn term.
  • The Bundles of Joy team bought a new stroller for a recipient (for £50). Less than an hour later £50 cash was dropped in an in-tray to be used for Bundles of joy!
  • We’ve been praying for a whole load of furniture for a recipient – Matt*. Last week we delivered a wardrobe, microwave & freezer. This week he’ll receive a chest of drawers, TV stand and a washing machine.
  • We’ve prayed for a recipient who’s had a really hard time recently. Last week a group of time-givers went to continue working on her garden – she was overwhelmed by the love shown to her to the point of tears. 
  • We’ve been able to give a bed base to a recipient – her referrer said this: “I saw it yesterday when I visited Debs* thanks a million. It will make such a difference as she is struggling with a bad back.”
Be encouraged!


A Refugees Welcome banner outside York Minster. Photo: York Press

Rob Ainsworth, co-ordinator of the Besom in York, looks at how some generous giving has helped some newcomers to our city.

Many of us will have seen the posters and banners hung around York and on social media saying #RefugeesWelcome. Well it’s been our privilege at the Besom to be part of the welcome party for those coming to York.

So far we’ve been able to direct gifts from the churches in York to three families that have moved to York from Syrian refugee camps.

One of the things I’ve loved about leading the Besom in York over the years is hearing stories of givers being able to help people to feel welcome in their own homes. Let me tell you about a few before we head back to our new refugee friends.

I remember a single mum in Tang Hall. She was escaping domestic violence and had moved 50 miles to York. She had two children, a couple of bin bags of stuff and the clothes she was wearing. During the assessment her head was low, there was no eye contact. Her self-worth was at rock bottom. Her first request was for curtains to shut out the world.

A month or so later I remember seeing her again. Much brighter. She even looked me in the eyes. Her home had been beautifully filled (and curtained) by Besom givers. She felt welcome in her own home.

Another example relates to a team of time givers who’d spent a weekend redecorating a lounge for a lady. Over time they got to know her well and supported her whilst she was in hospital by water plants and cutting her lawns as well. As the friendship developed, she told them of some abuse that had happened in her house. They offered to make-over that room to help wipe away memories. She felt more welcome in her home.

The refugee family’s finished garden

Back to our refugees friends. I love the way we are able to say welcome. When our van givers and project time givers go in to the homes and gardens of those settling in York we get to say a big fat welcome. We say it in words, but being from Syria they don’t speak English yet. Therefore, we say welcome with the gifts given, with the quality of those gifts, with the efforts and hard work put in and with the open-hearted non-judgemental generosity shown.

Refugees – you are very welcome! Welcome to our city, please make yourselves at home. We are here to be a blessing to you. We will pray for you. We will serve you. We hope to see you flourish in all of life.

Last week the van team delivered a fridge to a family with three small children. They were very grateful and made sure that we knew that (despite not having a translator)! The team then went on to collect garden waste from a time-giving project that had happened. A local church in York had transformed a waist-deep grassy wilderness for a farming family who had fled thousands of miles from home into a garden with flowers growing and vegetable plants ready to put in.

Tomato plants in the garden

So thank you church in York! Thank you for your welcome. Thank you for your giving. Thank you for your praying (it is working). Let’s pray that we can offer an even greater welcome.