It’s been a bit of a busy start to the year so I’ve been rather off blogging. But yesterday I went for a walk with Dreamer and Freddie the Pooch. We headed to our local park and the frost was so beautiful that I took a couple of pics. Glorious, eh? Only slightly marred by the three young couples snogging under separate trees. At 3pm on a Tuesday. Not sure what that was about.
Posts Tagged ‘Inner city’
Posted in Inner city, tagged alchoholic, Alcohol, Frosty Jack, Gone, hedge, homeless, homelessness, Housing, Inner city, prayer, sleeping rough, thanks, Vicarage, winter on 16 November, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Gone, our occasional hedge lodger, has been under the hedge for the last couple of nights. Brrrr – very chilly and damp in the fog. He rang the doorbell very drunk on Wednesday evening, but we didn’t chat for long. This morning he was on the doorstep as I took the boys to school and there again when I returned. I was despairing about his housing situation.
As usual, he was drinking a bottle of Frosty Jack and listening to a cheap radio on headphones. But he was also mellow and happy. He asked me to take care of his new debit card that allows him access to his benefits. I declined, thinking that he’ll forget what he’s done with it, but I gave him a wallet to keep it safe.
Wonderfully, I also found out that he has does have somewhere to live – he’s in a hostel and has his own room. But he’s been too drunk to get himself home the last couple of days – hence the hedge sleeping. I’ve made a note of his address and am hoping we’ll be able to keep an eye on him. And that he’ll manage a winter without prison this year. The needs of the homeless are always complex, and Gone is extremely vulnerable, so I am very thankful that our prayers for him have been answered at last. And am praying that he’d keep it together enough to keep himself housed. He knows that he needs to but the confusion and anger brought by drink and mental illness always means that his home situation is precarious.
We are very excited in the Vicarage. In about 2 weeks time, Dreamer will be joining us as our Families and Community Worker. Our church family are delighted to have appointed her and are looking forward to getting to know her as she comes to live and minister amongst us. In one of those ministry swings and roundabouts, a couple of days after she was appointed, our lovely Ministry Trainee Sweet Tooth decided that he wasn’t quite ready to step into ministry yet and left the Vicarage to start another course of study. So our house is a little emptier just now, although the children and other visitors (including Dreamer and her happy dog last week) seem to fill the place up well enough.
One challenge for Dreamer when she begins here will be leading our small youth group. Since the Vicar had A Very Important Meeting last week, I was helping out along with our new MT Radiohead and Cheery, a laughing lady from our congregation. The group has almost doubled in size since last year and in the meeting I attended the boy:girl ratio was 9:2, so testosterone levels were running pretty high. About a third of the kids have learning difficulties of some sort or another, which mainly means that attention spans can be rather limited. So, all in all, it was a pretty fizzy evening. But despite that, they still read the bible out loud and talked about what the narrow way looks like. And, as Dreamer said afterwards, noone died, noone was bitten and noone set fire to anything. I’m sure that many involved in youth work will recognise the experience of trusting that the Lord is working even when we don’t feel like much is going in!
And what would make you more happy about your hair than having it cut for £4, like I did yesterday? And I had the added bonus of being able to have a sweet chat about a lovely lady from our congregation who went to glory a few weeks ago. And I was able to walk to the hairdressers from the Vicarage. Sometimes there are unexpected pluses to urban ministry.
One of the lovely things about the Midlands Women’s Convention last weekend was the opportunity to catch up with friends from around the region. I was able to have a good chat with another vicar’s wife from the Black Country who has been sharing with us the unusual experience of having Gone sleep under the garden hedge.
Mrs Very Benevolent and her husband live in another Sandwell town, just a few miles from here. She told me that Gone has been supplied with a sleeping bag by a local Food Bank and has camped out in their garden for the past few weeks. Another vicar nearby sometimes allows Gone to use his bathroom to spruce up. So he’s surviving. As usual.
Mrs VB is finding that Gone is alternately awful, abusive, threatening and foul and then repentant, sweet, thankful and charming. Same mix as ever. But the good news in all this is that the local police have decided that enough is enough and have demanded that the local housing office sort it out. Since Gone is without doubt the most vulnerable person I have ever met, I am thankful that at last some people in authority are taking responsibility.
My friend said that the first option will be to get him to Betel, although we all know that Gone struggles with trusting others, so the Betel community may not prove to be the best place. Whatever happens we are praying for a good solution for him. But at last there seem to be people in the ‘system’ watching out for Gone and there will be other options if Betel doesn’t work out. Keep on praying for him – we would love him to to feel secure in a home.
Bee called us today as the Vicar needed to get some details for a return to the Registrar for her and Rocky’s marriage certificate. Since they’re no longer living in our attic, but in Bristol, where Rocky is now an ordinand, they’ve been following this blog for local news. I gave them all sorts of exciting updates (rather too exciting for this blog just now, I’m afraid) and then Bee asked me about Padda’s, our local grocers that mysteriously closed down a couple of weeks ago.
I was able to give her the good news that they have reopened. Hurrah! No longer will I worry about where to source spices and lentils. I’ve not actually visited the shop since the shutters opened again, but the Vicar has been. The staff told him cryptically that they’d been ‘on holiday’.
Not being as nosy as I am, he didn’t ask for further and better particulars, and I’ve not managed to find out anything more, though I was told that the owner ‘found a lot of money from somewhere’ to pay his outstanding bills. So that’s the rather unclear (non)story from here. Not quite sure what to make of it but relieved that our High Street hasn’t lost a valuable retail outlet.
There is some good news about our high street. The Indian sweet shop and essential source of Vicarage samosas has not, in fact, shut down. They are just closed on Mondays. Phew.
However, Padda’s supermarket (together with the two other associated shops) is still shut. Theories as to the reason for its closure are still unconfirmed, but added to the speculation about immigration issues and bank woes was the suggestion that the shops may have been closed by Food Standards. A few people thought the shop fridges were not cold enough and also that Food Standards were the only people who could shut a shop down so quickly.
So we are still devoid of a handy source of aubergines, lemons, poppadoms and large bags of onions. You’ll be relieved to hear that we’re just about coping. What happens next remains to be seen but it’s looking like the reduction of retail options in our tow-un is continuing.
One of the many excellent things about living in the inner city is being close to cheap local shopping. This includes being able to buy 10kg bags of onions and samosas about 100yds from our front door – very handy for this curry loving Vicarage. Paddas is an Indian grocers which sells everything you need for curry and much else beside – there are two shops, either side of the dual carriageway. Then there’s a meat shop ie a butcher which doesn’t sell beef and a ‘sweet’ shop, selling samosas, pakora and eyewateringly sweet Indian treats.
Well, it was excellent. Because this morning I went out in search of onions for tonight’s curry and four shops were shuttered up. I thought perhaps there’d been a family bereavement and went further into the tow-un in the hunt for my groceries.
I asked the chaps in the shop I went into what had happened. Was it a death, or perhaps a raid from Immigration? But they said that the shops had been shut ‘by the bank’. And that theirs might be next to go because Mr Padda is their landlord. They said it was ‘Mr Cameron’s fault’ and laughed like they thought there might be a little more to the story.
I hope their shop stays open. On the way home I saw a lady with a shopping trolley who was walking painfully towards the town. I asked her if she knew what had happened, but she was just aware that the shops had shut. She said she lived around the corner and had found it so convenient to shop there. We’ll miss you Paddas.
Posted in Church, Faith, tagged Cake, Christian, CofE, Diocese of Lichfield, faith, Families and Communities Worker, Holy Trinity West Bromwich, Inner city, job on 12 September, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
I have kept on forgetting to blog this – I was too tired before the summer and now it seems a bit late. But just in case there’s someone with massive skills in rapid filling of forms, a desire to serve alongside the Vicar in our multicultural inner city parish, and a good appetite for homemade cake, how about checking out the advert on our church website for a Families and Communities Worker. The deadline is this Friday, so you’ll have to get your socks on if you want to apply!
If it’s not the job for you, do please pray that the Lord sends us just the right person, and that God’s kingdom will grow here.
How do you go about training a couple of Christian lads who are thinking about possible ordination? We have a programme that includes a bible training course and lots of practical experience in church life. But sometimes the unplanned events are the ones that help to give the deepest insight into Christian ministry.
And here we have a picture of a fenced tomb outside the church. On Saturday morning we had a churchyard working party. Local kids joined adults as we swept leaves and cleared bushes to make everything look tidier.
By Sunday afternoon a bunch of children (including some of those who’d helped tidy up) had dragged a bunch of stuff they’d found in some bins inside the fence round this tomb and were dancing on top of it. The rubbish collection included bits of wood, a couple of old chairs and some plastic ride-on toys. The black plastic chair that was on top of the tomb had been cleared away by the time I took this picture.
The kids weren’t very receptive to my request that they clear up, but Radiohead and Sweet Tooth headed out to sort things out and managed to get the kids to help tidy up the mess they’d made. It took a while and some swearing (and not from the grown-ups), mind.
Afterwards the new MTs were able to spend some time chatting with parishioners who been watching the hooha (and helping to persuade the kids to take responsibility). Not necessarily what you’d choose for a training opportunity, but valuable all the same. And quite a way to meet the neighbours.