Service not services

A few encouragements from October.

It was great to help St Paul’s Church in their annual ‘Service not services’. Each year they cancel their regular Sunday services and spend the time helping those in need instead. This year, they made some beautiful bundles up for Bundles of Joy. They were full to the brim of wonderful gifts and looked absolutely amazing!

We’ve had Vineyard church giving their time again this month to help a mum unpack and move into her new home and help another recipient with his garden.

And some students from G2 gave their time to decorate for a recipient this month too! Look out for a blog about this soon.

And thanks to some generous money givers we’ve also been able to buy new curtains and homely gifts for a single dad in York, a V pillow for a recipient with arthritis, help a recipient with their heating bill and pay for a recipient to have their flat fitted with carpet and lino.

This week, some of the team are heading to the National Besom Conference in Witney – a great way to end October. We can’t wait. Stay tuned for a blog about it!


It was really great to see God orchestrating things for us

September was a busy month!

We’re really excited to have four new time givers in the office. They have been absolutely brilliant. Tara, Katherine, Catherine and Katie have together prayed, been on assessments, answered emails, facilitated giving and taken on the huge task of systematically going through the cupboards making sure everything is tidy and ready to give out! Absolute heroes!


We’ve had several evening van runs – our great van team have been out as far as Tockwith this time, collecting people’s furniture and delivering them to those in need. Two of our team, on a car run one night, told us how they’d got chatting with a recipient about Jesus and had prayed with him too!

We’ve been blessed with lots of household items being given, including some beautiful new home boxes from York Vineyard. It has been real joy giving them out. We took one box to an assessment last week, not knowing what the recipient wanted. When she asked for a kettle, we were delighted to tell her there was one in box full of household items, all for her, in our car! She was so grateful for the gifts and it was really great to see God orchestrating things for us so that she could receive that box when she did.


Money giving has meant that we were able to help two recipients out with their heating bill, a family in a homeless shelter with a food shop, a recipient who needed paint to redecorate, a recipient sleeping on the floor with a brand new mattress and a family with new school shoes and coats for their children as they went back to school.

We’re incredibly thankful and blessed to see God working each day. He’s doing some amazing things in York and we can’t wait to see what more He has in store as October continues.

Becky Lewis, The Besom in York co-ordinator

The thing that struck us was the beautiful way they were given


Rob Ainsworth, co-ordinator of the Besom in York, shares some new year encouragement.

It’s normally quite a hazy start to a new year in the Besom office.

Like most offices around the nation, each of us is returning after some time away and trying to re-engage our brains in what we do at 8am on a Monday morning.

Also there is the return to ‘normal giving’ after the month of December where we devote the full capacity of the Besom team to Christmas hampers. This year was no different – the team matched 203 hampers given by people in York and arranged for each one to be delivered to a grateful home in the city.

December is a month of full-on giving. We absolutely love it in the office. Phone and email communication triple and we see more givers than normal visit the Besom base.

It’s encouraging to have an increase in people and gifts, but the thing that encourages us the most is the sheer scale of generosity we saw.

Beautiful hampers, tailored to individuals and families in York:

  • A special hamper made for an elderly lady with a sweet tooth and an intolerance to gluten.
  • A huge collection of hampers (eight in total) made specifically for a mum & dad with six children in Clifton.
  • One group of givers were delivering to a family for the third time and have started to build a relationship. This resulted in a family trip to the cinema to see the Star Wars film.

Generosity is not something that is easily measured, but to us at the Besom it is evident when we see gifts given generously. There is a joy that comes with the gift given and a pleasure at seeing someone else benefit. It is not related to the amount of money that has gone in to a gift.

So it’s with this memory of generosity and giving that we started 2017. Within a couple of hours of switching the answer machine and email out-of-office auto-reply off, we had our first offer of a ‘normal gift’ – it wasn’t a Christmas hamper – it was a couple of sofas.


Later on that day we collected and delivered the sofas to recipients in York. The thing that struck us was the beautiful way they were given. The givers – we’ll call them Mr and Mrs G had such a delight as they gave them.

Mr and Mrs G had had the covers cleaned especially and were really looking forward to see them go to a new home. They were keen to know who would benefit from them and they wished they had other things that they could give as well.

On one level their gift was just a couple of nice sofas that were a bit too low down for the givers to get in and out of, but on another level it wasn’t about the sofas at all. They started with the act of giving and then the object that they wanted to give followed.

Talk about God’s timing

This week, core team member Becky Lewis brings us some Christmas cheer.

Tuesday was one of those days. One of those days where I’m constantly reminded of how great our God is.

Richard and I were out delivering most of the day. It was our last day of deliveries, so we had all the hampers left piled into my car. Just before we left we received an email from a key worker for a family with a newborn baby who desperately needed some food.

Richard takes a novel approach to hamper deliveries

They also lived right around the corner from one of our delivery stops. We had some spare food, so we packed some extra boxes and squeezed them in the car. Amazingly we’ve had one of Bundles of Joy’s bundles in our office which hadn’t been matched to a recipient. So we brought it along.

When we arrived, it was a moment I’ll never forget. Sarah* was completely amazed that we were at her door with the things she needed. And talk about God’s timing, she was just about to leave to go into town to see if she could source what she needed elsewhere.

She threw her arms round both of us. We asked her if she’d like the baby hamper and she was over the moon. Her baby was coming home from the hospital the next day – it was perfect timing!

At the end came one of the most special moments I’ve ever had whilst giving time at the Besom. She asked us to pray for her and her family. I couldn’t have been more honoured. I prayed for her and her partner, I prayed over her house and her other children and for her baby in the hospital. It was so special.

And she was just one of the recipients I had the privilege of meeting on the van run. I also met a wonderful dad with his 13-week-old baby, a woman who said “A hamper for me? Really?” and several children who would barely let us put the hamper down they were so excited for what was inside.

One recent hamper included this Christmas cake – yum!

I’ll leave you with a story from another recent delivery run by a dad and his son. Financial difficulties meant a family were not due to have any Christmas presents until after the big day. But the generosity of our givers had a real impact.

Here’s a text from the recipient:

“At 4pm a man and a small boy knocked on my door with a hamper. As I sit and write this, I cry happy tears, so a big thank you. You can’t really put it in writing what it means. Thanks everybody who helped with this.”

Happy Christmas everyone!

* not her real name.

God answered these prayers in His time

God is always at work when His people seek to do His will. That is our aim at the Besom in York  and we are often amazed by God’s great provision and His answers to prayer. Here are just a few prayers that God has answered recently:


  • Van time givers – We have been praying for a long time for new van time givers, specifically for someone to drive the van during the day. We recently met a new time giver who is able to drive the van and is free during the day! A giver who has given in the past has also offered his time to do van runs during the day.

christmas hampers


  • Christmas time givers – With the busy-ness of Christmas hamper season comes a lot of work, so we have been praying for a few extra pairs of hands to give time over this period. We have several individuals who have offered to come in and give time doing anything they can to help with Christmas hampers. We also have a church youth group who are going to give their time doing a hamper dash! One giver has also said that he would like to give time through the Besom on a regular basis, not just at Christmas.

Photo 1

  • Storage – This one comes from Bundles of Joy. Since Bundles began Rachel and Carly have been storing things in their own homes, but they are quickly running out of space and so we have been praying with them for some storage. Recently they were offered not one but TWO storage spaces in two different churches in York. This is a great weight off their minds as they will no longer have copious amounts of baby things stored in their houses.

We have been praying for some of these things for several months now and at times it felt like we were never going to find a new van driver or storage for Bundles of Joy. But God answered these prayers in His time. He wants us to be persistent in prayer; not giving up when it seems like He hasn’t answered but steadfastly trusting in His provision.

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18 v 1 (ESV)

Gluten free giving

Here’s core team member Kirsten Nott with our latest blog…

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the beginning of Christmas hamper season in the Besom in York office. Since then we have had quite a few referrals for hampers and we have also had lots of offers to make them from givers.

Here is one story to encourage you in your giving this season:

Yesterday my fellow core team member Katie Harman received an email from someone saying that this year their small group at church were interested in making a Christmas hamper for someone with special dietary requirements.


We don’t normally get referrals that specify dietary requirements, so Katie was a little doubtful as to whether we would actually find a recipient to match their hamper to.

However, within half an hour of this email arriving, Katie received another one, this time from a referrer whom she had spoken with earlier in the day. The referrer said that the recipient they had put forward would love to receive a Christmas hamper but that it would have to be gluten free!

Katie was so excited to share this with the rest of the team and it was a great encouragement to us. This is nothing that we could have planned – only God could make this happen!

We love how God takes care of the small details. Even when it comes to dietary requirements!

A day I’ll never forget

Core team member Becky Lewis shares a humbling and joyful experience in this week’s blog post.

Last week a usual day in the Besom office turned into a day I’ll probably never forget.

It began with meeting some givers who wanted to give some blankets and clothes. I had spoken to them previously and let them know that we were going to give them to a Syrian refugee family. When I arrived the givers had made a box of food to go with their things and a little card welcoming them to the UK. It really encouraged me, and the team, to see such generosity and not only that, but them going that bit further to help those in need.

I then went to assess the Syrian refugee family and they were absolutely delighted with the blankets. It was a privilege to be able to give them the card and the food too – to show that someone was thinking about them, not just giving them a hand out.

Photo: York Press

In the end, it turned out the family didn’t need any more clothes so we began looking for someone else to give them too. I had a distant memory of another Syrian family in York who had been referred for clothes a little while ago. After a quick call to the office and a phone call to the family via a translator, everything was arranged!

I wasn’t too sure what to expect, having only met a refugee family for the first time half an hour earlier, but it’s safe to say I wasn’t expecting what happened next.

The second family were probably some of the most joy-filled grateful people I have ever met. I can’t begin to imagine what they’ve been through, yet they had so much kindness and joy in their eyes. I can honestly say it was an absolute privilege to meet them.

They couldn’t speak much English and  I can’t speak any Arabic, so we had a hilarious time communicating. We sat giggling whilst battling with Google translate; it’s amazing how much you can communicate without words.


The conversation that got me the most was them asking me if I was from the church. I explained that the clothes were from Christians, and I’m a Christian too.

Although they don’t share my faith, they said that the church has shown nothing but peace and hope to them. And they were clearly incredibly grateful. How encouraging for the church and for those who have given to them. Thank you Jesus.