Annual Report – October 2014
Report and Current Activity
The year being reported on here – the year ending 31st December, 2013 – was a time of regrouping and consolidation, tackling difficult funding issues and coming out stronger and more resilient because of it. Through some difficult times, one realizes just how much of a need there is for what IBEX is seeking to do, and how much appreciation there is of the efforts we are making.
This report, written so long after the end of the year in question, includes much that has happened since then, resulting from the plans and adjustments made in 2013, but this is all very positive.
One of the things we stressed last year was the importance of Social media, and this is one area where IBEX has made great strides.
Social Media are increasingly important and it is vital that the different elements are working together and are actually tackling issues that people want tackled, providing information and material to people that they want to read and will come back to. The lessons learnt by David Wrighton on the Eastleigh College Course on the use of Social Media in the business environment, are now being applied. We now therefore have:
- A Facebook page, which is now being updated more regularly, and will point people towards articles on the website.
- A recently launched new-look website, and we are working towards far more regular updating thereof, recognizing that such virtual places are not visited unless there is good reason to do so.
- A regular E-Newsletter, about which we have had a good amount of positive comment, so that we can say with confidence that it has been well received.
We are seeking to provide a mixture of useful resources and pointers. This includes references to the national JPIT (Joint Public Issues Team) and Chaplaincy material, alongside a report on the Tolpuddle Festival and comment on Benefits capping. This last article was biblically based and referring to the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, and this type of article can be included in future editions..
These resources are, of course, open to all. While we work in a relatively small area, opinions that we voice, articles that we write, resources that we point people towards could be as relevant to people in Boston as they are in Bournemouth, in Preston as they are in Portsmouth, or even in Dallas as they are in Dorchester, so we are very happy for people to pass things on to anybody else who might be interested – that is the point of using Social media. We don’t mind who reads and uses our material, and in fact actively need it to be spread – particularly locally – to as many people as might find it useful.
Principle areas of Work
The main areas of work of IBEX: – Chaplaincy, The Church in the Community and Work with Partner Bodies
David continues to be a member of the management group for the very well established Winchester City Centre Chaplaincy. This seems to go from strength to strength.
He is also currently in touch with a group seeking to establish a town-centre chaplaincy in Dorchester, inspired by the presence of new offices for West Dorset District Council which have just appeared behind the Methodist Church in that town.
David is also currently leading the recruitment process for a chaplaincy to ASDA in Chandlers Ford, which is finally coming to fruition.
At the time of writing (October, 2014) David has had two meetings about exciting potential new areas of work:
- Chaplaincy to a Science Park – an individual who has been interested for a while in the possibility of developing chaplaincy on a Science Park just outside Southampton found us through our website, and this led to a very encouraging conversation assisting him in considering what initial steps to take.
- Chaplaincy to a Construction Site – as a result of contacts through the Winchester Chaplaincy, we have been approached over the possibility of developing Chaplaincy to the potential new Silver Hill development in the centre of Winchester.
These are both exciting prospects and, although they might seem revolutionary in this area, they are both areas of work which have already been tackled very successfully elsewhere. IBEX can therefore support, give confidence, provide the right contacts and avoid people having to reinvent the wheel. There will still be a lot of work to be done to set either venture up properly, but the knowledge that it has been done before, and that we are not alone, can be an enormous support before a daunting task!
The Church in The Community
Cliff continues to develop Buckland URC for greater community use, and his successful experiences can be shared with others, and we have done so already on a couple of occasions. The “Buckland Project” is a mixture of what can be done on a shoestring, and what needs major funding work to be done, and Cliff is good at both.
- Two rooms have been decorated and equipped with decent furniture to set up as a large and a smaller meeting room. Decent meeting room furniture was found through a local furniture recycling project, a smart whiteboard was found on e-bay, and water-coolers and the like all followed on.
- Major funding applications are bearing fruit – notifications of over £60,000 in one particularly good two week period, and this to the extent that a part of the rebuilding project – phase 1, the Coffee Room at the front of the Church should be ready to go in the not too distant future.
- The latest idea, is the potential to develop a multi-cultural Arts Centre on the premises, which could attract significant funding from the Arts Council and be a tremendous resource for the local community. BUT, it is very early days, yet.
- ‘Business in Buckland’ has been set up – some of this through redecorating and careful purchasing as above, but also thanks to the HSSE – see below.The Buckland experience has provided a sound base from which IBEX can talk to other churches about their own plans and aspirations.
Cliff has spent some time talking to and working with Waterlooville Baptist Church about their vision for the future. David and Cliff have both spoken to Woolston Methodist Church about plans to develop their buildings, including a visit to Buckland to see for themselves. It encouraged them to “think bigger”, and we may now be in touch with St Andrews Methodist Church in Eastleigh as they think daringly and constructively about the future.
These developments are not just about making the Church look nice. It could well be about changing the whole ethos of the Church. Being adventurous and constructive gets you noticed, and it is important to say that the Buckland project is being noticed, subscribed to and supported by people outside the Church, to the extent that Cliff has non-church people helping with project development and fund-raising.
HSSE – Hampshire School for Social Entrepreneurs.
Cliff was accepted onto a place on this programme for 2013, It not only supplied training around how to set up a social enterprise, covering things like business planning, finance, marketing, social media and any number of other topics, but it also provided £2,000 for the applicant’s proposed project, which was Business at Buckland, mentioned above. The updating of skills was vital, and the funding was vital to the buying of furniture and the setting up of a computer suite, with broadband provision and the like, which is essential for such a venture today.
Work in the Wider World
We are still, also, working on behalf of the Churches with statutory bodies, and voluntary and community organisations. Cliff and David are both involved in work with the voluntary sector in their areas, a sector which far too many people underestimate and undervalue.
Cliff continues to consolidate his position in City Life in Portsmouth, working with and alongside those who are already involved, while encouraging others both inside and outside the Church to consider how they can contribute.
David is currently involved in discussions and meetings with Hampshire County Council about funding, working smarter and making sure that the Council is happy with what it gets, particularly in times of straitened finance. We are still involved in things like Unemployment projects, Benefits Advice, Soup Runs, debt Counselling.
David continues as Chair of Springboard, which works, and seeks to galvanise others to work, in tackling issues of unemployment and skills in the Borough of Eastleigh. He also continues as Secretary of SARC – the Southampton Advice and Representation Centre. Despite challenging times in terms of funding, the Centre is highly valued for what it does in benefits and Employment Advice in the City. It continues to find constructive ways of moving forward and maintaining, if not increasing its level of service in times when it is most needed
There are all sorts of other initiatives which could be useful…. So please challenge us by telling us about your local need. It is so easy to think of the affluent South-east, but the reality can be oh so very different for many.Our website is developing, but there is so much we still want to do. It will see the development of ideas of what Churches can do and how to go about it – from Chaplaincy to Food-banks, from debt-Counselling Services to support for the unemployed and job-seekers. If any of this says anything to you, please let us know. Our one aim is to serve the Churches locally and to encourage and enable them to be a force for their good in the local community. I can’t help thinking it is what Jesus would want.
Our website is developing, but there is so much we still want to do. It will see the development of ideas of what Churches can do and how to go about it – from Chaplaincy to Food-banks, from debt-Counselling Services to support for the unemployed and job-seekers. If any of this says anything to you, please let us know. Our one aim is to serve the Churches locally and to encourage and enable them to be a force for their good in the local community. I can’t help thinking it is what Jesus would want.