Bridging The Gap – Willenhall
Why?: To have a united and visible Christian action in Willenhall Town Centre, showing God’s love and purposes to His people. (mission statement)
History: The project has been running at the shop since 2001. It started as a result of the closure of Trinity Methodist Church in Union Street, Willenhall. The idea was for Churches Together in Willenhall to have a town centre Christian presence, with its first embodiment being a stall on the indoor market.
Subsequently a grant was obtained from the Churches Urban Fund to pay for a manager and the Methodist Church invested in a shop building,where we are now based – 79a, Stafford Street, Willenhall.
What do we do?: The project has developed from the initial befriending outreach and we now provide a listening ear, friendship, debt advice (in partnership with Ablewell Advice), benefit advice, form filling, support and listening ear, prayer, bereavement support, Foodbank (in partnership with Black Country Foodbank), and lots of cups of tea. We will basically try to help anyone who has a need, short of giving money. All this is done in a Christian caring atmosphere which is the practical way that we share God’s love.
Budgeting Courses: Training the Trainers courses paid for by the Church Urban Fund, are offered to any group based in the Black Country who can pass on budgeting skills to those who need them. Contact Mike for further details.
Finances: The second hand shop provides a source of income which pays for the projects running costs.
Who is involved?: Mike, the project manager employed for two days a week and Sharon who looks after the volunteer rota and the day to day running of the shop paid for two half days a week. Most of the shop work and the befriending is done by a fantastic team of about 30 volunteers most of whom are from local Churches but some who just enjoy the work. We also work in conjunction with the Black Country Food Bank with about 6 volunteers staffing the distribution of food for half a day a week. Also Ablewell Advice Project providing debt advice one day a week.
Spin offs: We are also, in a small way, helping people get back to work or into society. Some of our volunteers, after realising their self worth when working in the shop, have gone on to obtain paid employment. We also provide work placements for work search organisations such as Job Centre and various training organisations.
Anyone wishing to know more, either call in to see us, or ring on 01902 606615 and speak to Mike.