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Safe Families for Children 1

We know that God is a relational God, and He created us to be in relationship with each other. As we read different parts of the Bible, we cannot escape the idea that God wants us to live together in community. Being in relationships with others enables humans to flourish and realise their full potential – it is how God designed us.

However, there is a growing problem across Southampton, and wider society: a problem that a number of us might not even know exists. We live in a busy city, full of people from all walks of life, and yet more and more people are feeling isolated and alone.

Studies have shown that isolation (lack of social relationships) is just as harmful to someone’s health as smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. However, the solution or treatment for this can be very simple and a lot less costly than dealing with those other health problems.

So how do we build relationships and community for people? How do we connect with isolated people? I believe the church is, and should be, at the very heart of the solution. I am genuinely excited to see the impact the church could have in our city and within the communities in which we live. The exciting part is that the city council have also realised that the church could be the answer to some of the real challenges they face. They are asking us, the church, to help improve things our city.

Safe Families for Children 2

Wow, what an opportunity for the church! Are we ready and willing to realise this?

So, what does that mean for Above Bar Church, as we look to bless the city? What does that mean for each of us as we look to bless our communities?

Many of us will have experienced the care, support and love of our church family when we have faced a challenge or when life has been too much. We also know what it is to support others who have been in that place, from sitting and listening to a friend just because they need someone to talk to, or helping out with the children so they can deal with a crisis they are facing.

Church gives us a great support network, and my question is: how do we create capacity for others to benefit from that support and help?

This short film shows how a church was able to do this for one family:

So, we know there is a need and that the church can be part of the solution. So what do we do? There are a number of different organisations that partner with churches and the council to help people to reach out to others in the community.

Safe Families for Children is one of those organisations. Southampton City Council has recently agreed to continue to partner with Safe Families for at least the next 3 years. That means we have the potential to support nearly 300 families in the next 3 years, and the council are asking the local church to do it!

Now, I realise that this is not for everyone. However, there are so many ways to be involved. It is worth thinking about whether this is something you could get involved in. I can guarantee whereever you live in the city, there are families close to you who are struggling and isolated and could do with meeting up for a coffee or being helped to access a group in their community. There are families who need to have community built around them to help them flourish and thrive.

Safe Families has had feedback from many families explaining the difference people from the local church have made. One mum said:

“I did not trust anybody, but since my volunteer has visited me I now know there are people out there who really want to help”.

Creating and growing community is to understand the heart of God, to invest time in relationships is to understand the mission of God. To care and love those in our community that need it most is what the church is called to do.

How will you respond? Click here to find out more: www.safefamiliesforchildren.com

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