Making connections


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.

connect page

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.


Becky Lewis, Co-ordinator, The Besom in York


The Besom in York is 10!

IMG_0033As of 25th February this year, The Besom in York is 10 years old!

We look back on the last 10 years praising and thanking God for everything he has done. We’ve seen hundreds of Christians giving their time, money, skills and things to people in need all over the city. We’ve seen people go above and beyond, giving incredibly generous things, building relationships with people, inviting them to church and going completely out of their way to make a difference.

This Sunday we’re celebrating 10 years of the The Besom In York and you are invited!

Where? – Belfrey Hall, Stonegate

What? – Afternoon Tea

When? – Sunday 21st May, 2 – 4.30pm

There will be lots of cake, givers past and present in attendance, friends from Besoms around the country and a short reflection at 3pm.

We would love to see you there!


Here’s why beggars can be choosers


Beggars CAN be choosers

So often when you hear people talking about charity and giving to the poor, you hear the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’. It’s this idea that because someone has nothing, they should just accept whatever they are given and they have no right to say whether or not they actually want it.

People use this as an excuse to give rubbish – things that are poor quality or that they just do not want anymore – because they think that someone who has nothing should just be grateful for anything. Anything is better than nothing, right? But do you know what is better than ‘anything’? The best thing. And that is what we at the Besom in York want to give: the best.

At Christmas time, we remember Jesus – His birth and significance of His coming. He was (and is) the best possible gift we could receive. During Advent, we are flooded with hampers at the Besom and we love it! We love seeing boxes bursting with treats, gifts and presents – things that we’d love to receive ourselves. And even more than that, we love hearing the stories of givers’ enjoyment at the act of giving!

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The main reason we believe in giving the best, has EVERYTHING to do with the GIVER, rather than just something to do with the receiver. When we Christians give the best, we reflect God’s (the Giver of all good things) gift to us! The Besom exists for the giver; to see the heart of the giver transformed through the act of giving to someone in need.

Those who receive might be a family escaping domestic violence with just a few bags of clothes or those who are stuck in cycles of poverty, having only owned rubbish things or nothing at all. Undoubtedly they benefit hugely from receiving the best. They receive dignity, value and love. They are blessed and are shown God’s love.

When we say that beggars can be choosers, we offer a choice where previously there was no choice. There is the choice for the giver – to ask God “what should I give?” and there is a choice for the receiver – “what would I love to receive?”

So this is why when we’re offered a sofa that “will be alright with a throw on it” we’ll say no or a bed that will be “alright for a homeless person” we’ll politely decline.

We don’t just care about the object that is being given, but also the motivation behind it. We realise that in doing this we are asking givers to re-consider how they view people who are in need and what things that they themselves would want to receive.


A lot of the people we meet have next to nothing; some have nothing at all. Many of them are coming out of difficult periods of their lives. We want to change that. We want to give people the good quality things that they deserve, because we believe that they DO deserve them. We want to bless people with gifts.

When we say and then act on the fact that beggars can be choosers, we have to be prepared for those who receive to say no to our gift. It is not just about giving the best.

This was illustrated to us recently. We were offered a really nice three-piece suite. It was one we’d seen and knew was great quality. In fact one of the van givers came back after delivering it saying he loved that we gave out the best and would have loved it in his lounge. We thought the receivers would love it too. But a week later they asked us to collect it and take it away to give someone else. At first we couldn’t understand why, but we now recognise it as them exercising the choice we so wish them to have.

We believe that everyone deserves the best and that beggars CAN be choosers.

The Besom in York core team

It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year…


Christmas comes early here in the Besom office. This week core team member Kirsten brings us the first Christmas hamper blog of the year.

It’s October and if you’re anything like me you’re probably despairing at the fact that all of the shops are already displaying Christmas items. It seems that these days, Christmas starts in September (though if you work in retail, it starts even earlier than that!) Here at the Besom, Christmas is our busiest time of year and so, much like all the shops, we start talking about Christmas, and preparing for Christmas hamper season, in September.

Last year we facilitated the giving of over 200 hampers right across the city of York. It’s not about the numbers for us, it’s about enabling individuals and groups of people in York to give generously to some of the neediest people in the city.

Just a few of the amazing hampers made by members of Vineyard church last year


Already we have had countless conversations about Christmas hamper season, have prayed about it, have begun some of the admin work and organisation for it, and have even had Christmas songs playing in the office! And this is the first, of what will probably be several, blog posts about Christmas hampers this year!

We’ve also already received some things that can go into hampers and are in the process of clearing out the office to make room for the deluge of things and hampers that will be given over the next few months.

A lot of work goes into making Christmas hamper season happen and the temptation can be to get stressed out about the amount of work there is to do or things not going the way that we want them to go. Especially as Christmas can be a busy and stressful period anyway. But, in spite of this, we know that God is ultimately in control and no matter what we do, He will always work it to His purpose. Time and time again we have seen God at work in the giving that goes on through the Besom; He answers prayers and, even if it gets a bit hairy at times, it always works out.

It may seem a little early to start thinking about Christmas but if you do want to get involved there are a few ways you can do just that:

  • Pray – pray for the team as we start planning and as we really get stuck into hamper season; pray that God continues to work in the city of York during this time; pray that God is already at work in the hearts of those who are wanting to give
  • Start thinking about what you could put in a hamper – if you are interested in making a Christmas hamper for someone we do have a list of suggestions for things that could go into a hamper but it is always amazing to see hampers that have been put together with a great deal of love and care and are just filled to bursting with beautiful gifts
  • Get in touch – there is always something to do and it doesn’t matter how much (or how little) you have to give we are all about giving! So get in touch at either: or

I don’t normally get excited about Christmas this early in the year, but I am excited to see what God will do in York this Christmas!

Finding a way to enable giving

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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.

How God gave us a new van

God has given us a new van at the Besom.

We are thrilled by the way that God has provided for us to equip givers across the city. So in this blog Rob shares how God has provided and what we have learnt from him through his provision.

Nellie – our long standing van-helper went to the scrap yard. On a regular van run in Acomb, her head gasket blew meaning it was not worth fixing her. We’re incredibly thankful for Nellie and those who financially provided her!

We’d been praying for a new van for years, not knowing how long Nellie would carry on, but knowing that God is our provider. Despite the temptation to worry about how we were going to be able to continue helping people to give without a van, we didn’t panic but instead we continued to pray.

We’d actually been offered a van from another Besom only the week before! The Besom that offered us the van were in a process of working out if they needed a van anymore or if it would be better to pass it on to another Besom. We didn’t say yes to the offer at once, we wanted to pray first and ask God to provide for the running costs of the van.

Besom van
Rob collecting the new van

Yesterday I went to collect the new van and bring it back to York. God had amazingly provided financially for us to run the van.

So what have we learnt?

Just over a year a go we were burgled at the Besom office (you can read about it in a previous blog here), at that time God taught us an awful lot of things. As I’ve reflected I have come to realise that the Besom in York was actually in a better place post break-in than what is was before. I’m not saying that I hope we’ll be broken in to again but I’m thankful that God used that situation to shape us as individuals and a team and produce fruit.

The fruit that I’ve seen formed in the team is that of steadfastness – specifically a steadfastness to trust, rely and lean on God all of the time – to have a greater faith and trust that he will provide for our needs.

  1. God is working for our good and is way ahead of us. We were offered the new van a week before Nellie went to the scrap yard. God was already changing the shape of another Besom, showing them that a van is no longer needed. God gave us a van for £free!
  2. God is working behind our backs. He is not only working before us but he is backing us up and building us through prayer. He’s taught us that when you are always reliant on God in prayer nothing changes when you hit a crisis. Crisis points then become moments of peace, patience and even faith.
  3. God is loaded. The previous van was owned by a Christian in York who generously gave us priority use of it. This time we would need to run it ourselves but God came up with what was needed! One Wednesday we opened the to post to find a letter with a cheque for more than enough money to tax, insure, MOT and fuel the van for the next year!
  4. God exceeded (and continues to exceed) our hopes and expectations. We’re grateful for the new van. But more than that we’re grateful for how it has widened our view of God and what he can provide!

We’re excited to see the new van be a vehicle that equips the church in York to serve those in need and help people to see God and all of his goodness.

Adrian and Mike (left to right) giving time on the new van’s first ever van run in York!


The van’s first van run in York saw it deliver this sofa to a recipient who had specifically asked for a small, black leather sofa and a rug. Both fitted perfectly in the new home!


Hudson Taylor once said “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”

Jesus said in Mathew 6 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… …But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Stair gates, bunk beds and a new van

This week, Rob Ainsworth, co-ordinator of the Besom in York, brings us some encouragements from across the country.

On Saturday, a team of us from York drove down to Thurrock for a gathering of Besoms from across the South East. We’d been invited to come down and share in a day of testimony and teaching with nine other Besoms. We had such a good time and were greatly encouraged, so we wanted to share a couple of stories with you.


Joy from The Besom in Sheffield told us a lovely story at Saturday’s gathering.  She had been on an assessment and right at the end asked the young mum if there was anything else she needed to add to the wish list.  Mum mentioned that her child was almost walking and so a couple of stair gates would be great.  Joy added them to the list with the comment “we will pray for those to be given, it’s months since we had any stair gates offered”.

Shortly afterwards the Besom phone rang in her bag – Joy had forgotten to turn it off!  With huge apologies to the young mum, she realised it was a call she probably needed to take from a known giver.  Turns out the giver was about to pop round to their premises and wanted to know if two stair gates would be useful to bring as well!  Amazing!  God is so good.


Jeff and Rosie from The Besom in Basingstoke shared a story of what happened to their Besom after their long-serving van went on its way to the scrap yard in the sky. Like any Besom – they make use of a van to help distribute furniture that people have given across Basingstoke. It’s an essential part of the team.

They prayed a great deal about it and God gloriously provided! They had asked God that He would provide a van that was in good condition and for the funds needed to keep it on the road – tax, MOT, insurance etc…

A giver came forward wanting to give them £15,000 (fifteen thousand pounds) !!! They now have a Luton van with a tail lift! An amazing answer to prayer!

besom haringey

Richard from the The Besom in Haringey shared a story of their ‘Bunk bed Saturdays’ where they buy a new bunk bed from Ikea and construct it for the recipients. They have had a couple of family teams giving – two different father and seven-year-old son teams have joined a regular giver to build a new bed for families in need in their borough of London.

Richard noted how encouraging it was to see families giving time together and see how a seven-year-old giver-child interacted with an eight-year old recipient-child who was playing the Call of Duty video game. There is a lot to learn from the innocent and unprejudiced way they interact and practically show love.

We were able to share about the recent launch of Bundles of Joy in York. We’ll have more about Bundles of Joy on this blog in the next couple of weeks.