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Getting to know our new Church and Community Coordinator - Esther Ridsdale


In our last newsletter we announced that Esther would be joining us in January 2024 as our Church in the Community Co-ordinator. Having been with us for a whole 4 months, this is a good time to catch up with her.

  ( Esther at the Methodist Southampton District Synod )


IBEX Hi Esther good to catch up with you. It certainly seems like it has been a busy first 4 months in post. What have you been focussing on?

Esther I have been listening to what people see as priorities and discerning what I might be best able to support,  exploring how I and IBEX can work with them to make plans and work with them on their agenda for community engagement.  I have also been getting to know my colleagues in IBEX and enjoyed the opportunity to take a lead in clarifying and testing the overall IBEX mission and strategy.


IBEX What came out of the mission and strategy work?

Esther It was a great opportunity to talk about the IBEX mission of taking the Christian message into the economy and making the economy part of the wider faith agenda.


IBEX You sound really enthusiastic about this.

Esther Yes  I am passionate about developing approaches that release the life in people and serve the common good and I have been really interested in the idea of the "wellbeing economy" and thought that this could be a good fit with what IBEX wants to develop.


IBEX What is a wellbeing economy?

Esther It’s about developing economic systems which rather than concentrating just on material wealth considers the overall well-being and thriving of people and planet as paramount.  


IBEX Sounds amazing! How is it going to be taken forward in your role as Church in the Community Coordinator?

Esther What has come out of this strategic thinking is the idea of a "Wellbeing Creating Church" . It is something that I have been working on as director of the Civil Society Forum. Essentially this embodies the aspiration of civil society to be a place where all can flourish.  An idea that has clear congruence with the Christian message and IBEX is keen to launch.


IBEX Have you had a chance to test this out with any churches?

Esther Yes I have. As I said earlier I have been talking with the Methodists and URC and I was delighted to be invited to come along to the Methodist Southampton District Synod in April to talk about IBEX and the idea of wellbeing creating churches where it was well received.


IBEX What is the next step?

Esther We are keen to work with a group of churches to pilot this initiative and we have already had our first candidate come forward.


IBEX What should churches do if they are interested in finding out more about becoming a wellbeing creating church?

Esther If you are interested do get in contact with me at community@ibexsouthcoast.org.uk


IBEX Are there other projects that you are working on?

Esther Yes I am glad to have an opportunity to bring in my skills and experience to work with IBEX. I have a background in collaborative strategy, management  and improvement and community development and have been looking at ways to work with churches to identify needs in their communities and potential avenues of support for responding to this. I am currently working with a church to assess needs and requirements for a building project for a church community hall as well as facilitating the development of a community vision. It helps that I have experience of being on the church council at my church.


IBEX What is really clear in talking with you is a sense of wanting to try things, not being afraid to explore. Where does this come from?

Esther A big influence was from growing up in the hills in Scotland. My brothers, neighbouring kids and I roamed free, creating adventures in the hills, woods and streams. It invariably included lots of cuts, bruises and stings but was a rich and exciting experience. I was conscious of how much the quality of the experience was affected by the quality of connection with the environment and the other kids; much like life in general and the Christian adventure. I have been captivated by understanding and working on that connection in organisational, community and my personal life ever since.


IBEX Thanks Esther

 

 

 

 

 

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