A broken washing machine, car repair bills, urgent travel costs – when a family is struggling to make ends meet, they can’t cope with unexpected expenses. Since 2010 a Christian charitable scheme has been giving support ‘to anyone in need’ – so far £122,000 has been given to help 28,000 people.
Acts 435 is a website that allows people to give money directly to individuals and families in need. The needs are identified through local church relationships; the goal is to get 100% of donations quickly to those who need help.
HOPE Nottingham are using Acts 435 regularly. Through their foodbank, furniture recycling scheme, drop-in café, employment pathway and a Home Hope project they build relationships with people who need practical help. The team have also developed good relationships with social agencies and many of them refer people in need of food or furniture to HOPE Nottingham.
HOPE Nottingham then use Acts 435 to post the person’s need on the website to raise funds, most often, but not exclusively, for basic kitchen appliances like cookers, washing machines and fridges. Once the money comes in they contact the person in need and take them shopping to a second-hand appliance shop which arranges delivery and safe installation.
Nigel Adams from HOPE Nottingham said: “Increasingly the people volunteering to help have been beneficiaries themselves at one stage or on a job training scheme or mentoring programme. Acts 435 often provides a starting point for a relationship so that we begin to give real life-changing support.
“We connect with people through befrienders in the café, or through other means. Sometimes a person comes direct for other support, but in the process they discover Acts 435 funding is available too. This scheme is a way of providing relief which we can develop into a relationship and even discipleship.”
The online giving scheme backed by the Archbishop of York was launched nationally by the Diocese of York in 2010 and takes its name from Acts 4:35, the example of the early Church ‘giving to anyone as they had need’. It enables church-based charities, and Christians engaging in community support, to access funds for particular items or to address an urgent issue in a family.
Roy Crowne said: “What an opportunity for the Church to be what it is meant to be and give to those in need, serve in mission and connect with people in the community through actions and words. Who knows where that connection could lead?”
The idea is spreading quickly with new churches and regions tapping into this initiative which supports them in their mission. Churches in any area can connect with this service and apply for up to £100 at a time per family.