Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland (TMC) is a joint venture between the York Anglican Diocese and the Church Urban Fund (CUF), working together, with the support of many similar organisations in the Teesside and Cleveland areas – including Justice First, of all religious persuasions and none, to tackle poverty. Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland has the support of Archbishop John Sentamu, Bishop Paul Ferguson of Whitby, and Bishop Terence Drainey of Middlesbrough.
A “Networking and Information Evening” was held at the Trinity Centre, North Ormesby (TS3 6LD) on June 16th. Eve and David Cragg-James attended, and David's slightly incoherent report follows:
'The hope underlying the evening was to develop a network of groups and individuals who have up to date information on current projects on related problems and are prepared to promote this work within their communities – the “Champions programme”*. Projects address issues of low income, debt, lack of skills or opportunities, food poverty, asylum seekers, and the causes of such problems which trap individuals and communities in a web of poverty, (to quote Bishop Paul.) The meeting was addressed by the Bishop, by Terry Doyle of the John Paul Centre, and by John Dickinson of Great Ayton. One of the points to emerge from the Meeting was the gap which existed between the reality of life for the groups in need in these areas on our doorsteps, and the perceptions of the problem in rural North Yorkshire (John Dickinson) where a fund of goodwill existed, but little knowledge of the depth of the problem – (eg. 16 out of 18 Middlesbrough parishes, and 11 out of 16 Redcar and Cleveland parishes represent the top 20% of the most deprived parishes in England. Up to 60% of children fall into the category of child poverty, suffering from difficulties such as inadequate winter clothing, and the need to choose between food or heat). Groups seeking to address some of these problems were the Middlesbrough Food Bank (supported by inter alia the generosity of Ampleforth people), and the Middlesbrough Environment City's joint 'Slow Cooker Project'. Other groups and individuals sought to forge individual contacts between needy individuals and those not so materially and socially deprived.
Terry Doyle reminded us that Teesside was the largest dispersal centre in England for asylum seekers. The work of the Tees Valley of Sanctuary, and of York Minster in housing 8 families of Syrian Refugees was acknowledged. Caritas Socal Action Network was also involved, as was Open Door North East, and the Methodist Asylum Project.
Local people were working together in addressing all of these issues and others. 12 Churches and Community venues in Teesside were providing support for families during the summer holidays, holiday clubs and healthy food for children. Caritas Social Action Network was also involved.
The Champions Programme was looking for volunteers willing to understand needs; to promote awareness in local communities; to encourage support for initiatives through communication, through meetings, through magazines and through other existing channels; to develop local networks and encourage others to be involved; to focus available resources on current needs. Any or all of the above. The circle of Network – Encourage – Communicate – Support – Knowledge – Network, etc., starting from any current position, was a model put forward.
Sizeable grants were available, we were informed, to directly tackle poverty, working with people in need. TMC seeks to mobilise resources and direct them most appropriately. See www.cuf.org.uk/mobilising-resources-tmc
Talk to Eve or David if you'd like more information, or to be put in touch with opportunities to help