Free Summer Luncheon Clubs & Festive Meal, 2013
During the summer of 2013 we held a series of five, weekly Summer Luncheon Clubs and a festive meal in December, involving the inputs of local volunteers to cook food from around the world using fresh produce from the Paradise Garden and other local sources including generous donations from a nearby community allotment. Delicious free food was accompanied by music and toys for children with the community facilities and Paradise Garden open for all to enjoy. These community social meals were very well attended, particularly by local families, the elderly, refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom also volunteer in the Paradise Garden. We also enjoyed generous and helpful support from volunteers from the parishes of St. Clements and St. James, Broughton, as well as sustained advice and inputs from Dave Fraser, the Parish Development Officer. All those attending have expressed how much they would like a similar, regular social meeting event accompanied by food. So watch this space!
Salford Central Food Bank, 2012/13
Manchester city centre church, Christ Church Central, in partnership with the national organisation The Trussell Trust, have worked with The Ascension Church to set up this much needed support service which was officially opened on the 6th November, 2012, using our Community Space. The Food Bank has continued to open regularly and, as the only Food Bank venue in Salford, it has been able to assist the growing numbers of economically vulnerable individuals, refugees and families ‘on the bread line’ to access emergency food supplies and other sources of support and advice. It became one of the fastest growing Food Banks in the UK and in the autumn of 2013 moved to its own, dedicated nearby premises. As a partner organisation we continue to work with the Food Bank and sign-post individuals to the service. More information on Salford Central Food Bank can be found at: www.salfordcentral.foodbank.org.uk
International Women's Day, March 2013
We collaborated with local community group 'Women of The World' (WOW) and other local community groups to celebrate International Women's Day in an event with world food, activities, stalls, musical acts and Zumba dancing, bringing over 250 local people together from the local and wider community. WOW endeavours to celebrate the diversity of local people’s backgrounds positively, by developing strong relationships across all different cultures, through learning new skills and promoting exercise and healthy living; their input into the celebration of International Women's day meant that the event was a huge success, demonstrating how such collaborative events, which involve the entire, diverse local community, can significantly reduce isolation through the development of links across generations, cultures and the local neighbourhood.
Sports Activities & Family Bike Rides, 2012/2013
As a result of collaboration with East Salford Health Improvement Service a series of weekly aerobics classes aimed at all ages and abilities, using the spacious interior area within the church were delivered as well as 'Lose Weight, Feel Great' and 'Luv to Cook & Get Moving' sessions with weight management and physical activity classes. Inter-generational, family bike-rides have also been organised during the summer months using the church as a base, with families enjoying the use of bicycles stored in the large, under-storey area below the main church. We hope to develop further collaborative activities which focus on physical and outdoor activities and welcome organisations to get in touch and organise dance, exercise and physical activities which use the spacious, internal Community Space.
Creative Arts Project in with The Lowry Theatre, June 2012.
The magnificent, flagship arts and entertainment venue, The Lowry Theatre, based at Salford Quays, focuses on ways to create opportunities for social interactionwithin the community in an effort to generate a spirit of participation. We collaborated with The Lowry’s Community & Education Team to deliver a series of creative workshops to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee in June 2012, these focused on drama, arts and crafts, games, music and cultural awareness activities, in an effort to bring together families from different backgrounds through the enjoyment of free, cultural and educational, ‘fun’ activities. Many people from the local community came together to enjoy the activities and related events and we were also extremely pleased to be joined for the day by HRH George St. Andrew, whose patronage as Chairman of The Golden Web Foundation has greatly supported the on-going community activities.
Research with Church Urban Fund & Frontier Youth Trust, September 2011
Our in depth, written analysis of the role of the Church within the community, from the view-point of The Ascension Church and our nearby sister church of St. Paul’s, was included in a web-based 'Church Action on Poverty' nationwide survey regarding the impact of Government spending cuts, conducted by Church Urban Fund & Frontier Youth Trust. The resulting report was sent to every Bishop in the country and covered by the Church Times.
Our contribution to the related on-line survey for this research, focusing on the effect of the spending cuts and lack of funding for community groups, was also included in the full 'Church Action on Poverty' report titled 'Holding on by a Shoestring: Tracking the Impact of the Spending Cuts on Voluntary Groups in England's Most Deprived Areas'; the report was sent to all the organisation's supporters and church leaders across the country. Information from the survey was also included in various other Church Urban Fund/Christian Against Poverty reports, which present detailed, statistical profiles of area-based poverty in England titled: 'The Web of Poverty: Area-Based Poverty and Exclusion in England' (2011) and 'At the Cutting Edge: A Survey of the Impact of the Spending Cuts' (2011) and the information was also used to produce a separate report on that year's riots from the perspective of local community workers. We also made a valuable contribution to the research of Church Urban Fund and Frontier Youth Trust by setting up our own workshop with our young unemployed volunteers to discuss the underlying issues of unemployment. The resulting report: ‘Making Sense of the Riots: Reflections from the Church at the Time of Unrest’ (2011), highlighted that grass-roots and parish-based projects such as ours are well-positioned to offer the kind of support to which disadvantaged, inner-city communities respond well. The report also engendered discussion regarding the need for local churches to engage with young people and support them in ways similar to those methods which we are already applying. All these reports can be downloaded at www.cuf.org.uk/research.