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 stories keep on coming!


We’re excited to announce that 32 Stories – the second edition, is out now!

32 Stories is a booklet of stories from 19 different charities across York (and one story from York Central MP, Rachael Maskell). It has been put together by Wayne Golder at The Fulcrum Foundation and us here at The Besom in York and the intention is simply to encourage people in their giving.

The booklet follows last year’s first edition and we pray it will encourage readers across York and beyond. You can view both booklets here.

There is so much giving that happens in our city, so many stories of how God is at work, and 32 Stories is just one way of sharing them.

We were so encouraged to hear from one giver who has been using it in their family story and prayer time each evening. It has also been used as a basis for prayer in church house groups.

Our second edition is available to buy from us at 50p each. Please drop us an email if you or your church would like to buy some.

Charities who share stories in this edition:

TLG Early Intervention

Restore – Housing Charity

The Archbishop of York Youth Trust

York Neighbours

Bundles of Joy

Big Breakfast at St Crux

Eat Well, Spend Less – York City Church

Kidz Klub York

Railway Mission

Chaplaincy at York Races

Friends International


Joseph Trust

Street Angels York

York Foodbank

Riding Lights Theatre Company

Family Matters York

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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.

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.





None of us appreciated just how moved we would be

It was great to see 13 sixth-form students  from Ampleforth College giving time on decorating projects with the Besom in York recently. This week’s blog is their reflection on a memorable experience.

During the last week of June, the Besom enabled us to take part in SHACworks, a week of volunteering in the community. 13510972_1124218214307793_3524291237274595072_nThis was the third time that the Besom and the college had worked together in this way, and we had an unforgettable week.

We were asked to decorate in the homes of two families in central York in the hope that their living environments could be brightened. It was hard work physically, but although we had been warned to expect to be challenged emotionally, none of us had perhaps appreciated just how moved we would be by the stories of those we were working for.

After we left work on Friday, we had an afternoon reflecting on our experiences and were asked to identify a high point, a low point and something which had surprised us. For many of us the high point was seeing the work completed, although for some of us it was a surprise that we’d managed.


We were asked to live in community for the week, joining for prayer throughout the day and many of us were surprised at how we had begun the week as a group of sixthformers who didn’t necessarily know one another very well, but by the end of the week we had come to know one another in a  much deeper way, having shared not only the responsibility of our work with the Besom but responsibility for preparing and serving our own food, and joining together for prayer throughout the day.

You can read about the projects Ampleforth College students were involved in last year here and find more information on their 2016 efforts here.

picnic edit

Even down to the smallest detail


James and Gemma, from York House of Prayer, with fresh fruit for a recipient

This week, Kirsten Nott, a core team member with The Besom in York shares two stories of how God has been at work in our city and elsewhere.

Here at The Besom in York we help people to give in whatever way they feel called to. This can be anything from giving time on the van, to doing a project, to creating unique pieces of art for individual recipients. God can call us to be extremely specific in our giving. He also has a way of providing for us in our giving.

Recently a team of givers from the House of Prayer in York expressed a desire to give. They wanted to do something practical and helpful for a recipient, but that wasn’t doing a project; they wanted to do something that would help them to develop a relationship with a recipient and build friendship.

The team were matched up with a recipient and before they went round to see her, they met with Besom in York co-ordinator Rob Ainsworth in the office to pray for the recipient and what they were going to do for her. Whilst they were praying, Rob got the smell of fresh fruit, even though there was no fresh fruit in the office. The team prayed about what the smell could mean, they believed that it was about the team bringing freshness into the life of the recipient after the tough year she’d had. When the team went to visit the recipient they got the smell of fresh fruit again, which turned out to be coming from a candle that the recipient had in her home, which was apple-scented. This fitted with the smell of fresh fruit that Rob could smell when they prayed for the recipient in the office.

besom van

The team asked the recipient how they could serve her and at the end she said “I just feel like I need a great light to shine down from above”. The team then went shopping and to raid the Besom office for items that they could give to her. They bought her some curtains, in the colour that she’d asked for, and while they were at the office they were offered a couple of trays of fresh food from a funeral wake that had been held in the church. One of the trays of food that was given was a massive tray of fresh fruit!

The team were overwhelmed at God’s provision; after they had prayed for the recipient and got the smell of fresh fruit, God had then provided them with a massive tray of fresh fruit to give to the recipient.

James, from the House of Prayer team, said, “We learnt that God is generous! The fruit platter was absolutely incredible.”

They went to deliver an entire car-load of things to the recipient, including the food that was given. James commented: “They were absolutely buzzing when we dropped it off”. The team also had the opportunity to pray with the family and explain what prayer is and who they were praying to.

They had a great time talking with them and building relationship with them. James said: “It was a great privilege to serve through the Besom in that way… Every time we’ve done a Besom project and given space for God to turn up, He’s done amazing things. Laura* was delighted with all that we were able to give her which was a real encouragement. And it was great to be able to pray and bless them as we left.”

When Rob went back to see the recipient to do an assessment for a decorating project, her son thanked him and the team for the food; they had eaten all of it and he had especially enjoyed the fruit. He also had the chance to tell the recipient that they had prayed for her before the team had gone to see her and that they had felt God prompting them to think and pray about fruit and freshness. Then God provided it. Rob was able to share this with the recipient and tell her that Jesus does answer prayer and that He cares enough to provide even small, simple gifts, such as fresh grapes for a boy.


Another story of how God pays attention to detail and provides specific gifts for specific people comes from The Besom in Runnymede. A few of years ago the Besom in Runnymede were given a painting by a diplomat who was moving out of the area. The painting was of an Indian woman and was worth a lot of money. People kept challenging them to sell the painting and use the money to buy things for recipients.

However Mandy, who runs the Besom in Runnymede, felt that they should not sell it but keep hold of it. A couple of years after the painting was given, Mandy felt that they should put the painting on the van with some food that they were giving to a recipient who suffered from anxiety and agoraphobia and so could not leave his house. It turned out that the recipient was an Indian man and that the painting was actually of a woman from the particular tribe or region of India that he came from.

Mandy had no way of knowing this at the time, she just felt that God wanted them to give him the painting. The painting meant a great deal to the recipient and was actually the key to him being able to get out of the house and engage with people.

God knows what we need and He provides for our needs, even down to the smallest detail.

*Not the recipient’s real name