Brian Whaite is one of 70 volunteers from around the country who have been named a ‘Diamond Champion’ honoured by Prince Charles for community work.
Brian, who retired in 2009, says: ‘I didn’t want to sit in an armchair, so I did odd-jobs for people.’ As a painter and decorator, with some plumbing skills, he could turn his hand to many different practical tasks. At first he helped people in his church, Longton Community Church near Preston. Word spread and the church launched a volunteer-led project called Inside Out, which Brian leads.
Inside Out now has a team of volunteers, and people with practical needs are referred regularly by housing agencies, the Police, social workers and others. This year they have had more than 270 referrals and have helped hundreds of people, restoring their self-respect. The projects range from gardening, to cleaning and decorating, to providing furniture or clothing or food. Recently they held a 60-hour makeover, during which 15 homes were transformed by Christian people cleaning, clearing, painting, decorating, renovating: ‘Doing whatever it takes – to demonstrate the
hope of Jesus.’
The help they give comes with no strings attached, but for some, the practical care shown has prompted the first steps to them becoming Christians. The volunteers from the church are open about their Christian faith when asked, but they aren’t pushy. They offer a Welcome Pack when they leave each job, introducing Longton Community Church and its aims – ‘reaching, serving, loving and supporting people no matter what’.
During the summer, 24 churches in the Preston area worked together on a ‘Serve our City’ project; 240 volunteers spent five days working on community projects backing their words about their Christian faith with practical action.
Churches working together are making a difference in Preston; practical service and prayer alongside preaching, one-to-one witness and courses which give people space to explore faith, mean people are becoming Christians.
Serving our City, Preston
Longton Community Church
Diamond Champions in the news: Daily Express