The Halifax food and support drop-in, now in its third year, is now offering prayer as part of the free service for people who attend. Volunteers were thrilled in November to witness a large response to a talk from Barry Woodward, a transformed ex-offender and addict. Now clients have been ticking a box as they arrive, selecting to receive prayer while they are there. All this has come about because churches across Calderdale decided to join together and address the needs in their area.
The drop-in has distributed over 8,000 parcels since it began in 2008, the same year as HOPE 08, and receives around a hundred clients each Saturday morning. Over sixty local churches now support the project and are represented through 30 - 50 volunteers each week and regular donations.
The venue has never run short of provisions, nearby businesses and farm shops donate food, and some churchgoers even tithe their weekly shopping budget to the cause. The service enables vulnerable people to access food and support which will help them to move on from their situation; which may be one of homelessness, addiction, debt or seeking asylum.
Kate Fawcett, who is on the management committee of the Food and Support Drop-in, said: “It’s so exciting to see how many people are taking up the offer of prayer. Miracles are really happening and eight clients have been baptised. We had one girl who cried because she had never had anyone be so nice to her and we have seen hard drug addicts find peace and become keen to help others.
“This would never have worked if Christians had not joined together from across the whole of Calderdale. We are more effective together and the unity that has been created is mind blowing – a real chance for denominational labels to disappear. We are just Halifax people doing God’s work, with a desire for others to know that a new life is available through Jesus.”
The Drop-in was set up under the banner of the Christian’s together initiative and HOPE Calderdale as a result of a few people, with various knowledge and backgrounds, recognising the needs and discussing a response. The team want to tackle the underlying issues that cause the need for food in the first place and this is where the support element comes in. The Drop-in has created successful partnerships with organ
isations like Horton housing, which provide a support worker every other week. It acts as a signpost to all sorts of other support, including Alpha courses. Starting this year debt management advice will be available from church volunteers who have been trained by Christians Against Poverty.
Roy Crowne, Executive Director of HOPE, said: “I love it when I hear of projects like this where so many churches are working together to meet the very real needs of local people – so much more is achieved this way. Our vision, as HOPE, is to see churches in every area of the UK join together, regardless of differences, to share Jesus’ love with their communities through words and actions.”
On the 19th March a celebration called Matthew’s gathering will provide an opportunity for the people of Calderdale to thank God for the work He is doing in their locality. The event, taking place in Ebenezer church, will involve a service that clients can attend in the morning, an afternoon of testimonies and reflections and then an evening of praise and thanks which will go late into the night.