Over 190 volunteers put hard graft into the people and projects of Brighton and Hove between the 18-24 July, as part of HOPE Brighton ‘11. In total, the time that teams donated their kindness rose to a whopping 2,500 hours, brought smiles to faces and brightened up homes, schools and community centres.
There were also street dance workshops, shows, football tournaments, food provision and a positive atmosphere. Members of Holland Road Baptist Church and the One Church, Brighton joined with a group from Wales, a group from Brazil to be part of the HOPE Brighton mission week. Some Lloyds TSB volunteers joined in on the practical work.
HOPE Brighton began as part of HOPE 08 and has continued since. Jonny Holman a member of the organising team and HRBC told how it has grown: “I stood in front of the church four weeks ago and I suddenly realised something. When we started HOPE in 2008 we really had to work hard to find the need and projects to help. That is the big difference now. The need is visible everywhere. Now, people are approaching us left right and centre and asking we can help. This inspires us and volunteers to be involved, knowing how much it would make all the difference for these projects or individuals”
The workers and volunteers at a special needs nursery were over the moon when they heard that attention would be given to their deteriorating venue. Teams went into local schools during the holidays and redecorated and gardened. One lady, a member of Holland Road Baptist Church who had been having a very difficult few years was really touched that a group would come and give her home a real make-over inside and out.
This years highlight for many young people was a group called M18, a Brazilian street dance group who had flown in from Croatia to run a workshop for over 40 people. The ten dancers taught the participants break dance, hip hop and ballet moves and then performed to over a hundred people, of all ages, on the friday night. The show tackled serious issues such as loneliness, suicide and self-harm through the medium of dance and demonstrated hope through such circumstances.
Jonny added: “We wanted to walk the fine line of being a mission reaching out to those who don’t know yet know Jesus but also continue serving and doing good in the body of believers too. We wanted to honour both aspects of what the bible tells us. It was all really hard work but really thrilling.”
Prayer underpinned the whole week and the ‘connections’ team were out on the street always inviting people to something – first the International student football tournament and then secondly the street dance show. So many people wanted to be part of the football tournament 5-a-side teams became 9-a-side and had a rolling substitution. The connections team also did some questionnaire evangelism and went out to members of the public with words and pictures from their prophetic prayer, with a number responding to chats about faith.
The week culminated in a community celebration service at Holland Road Baptist Church on Sunday.