SHINE, Mount Merrion, St Mary's and Morriston Tabernacle
Marsh Church and Community Heroes Awards
England – SHINE, St Stephen’s, Bowling, Bradford
SHINE is an organisation set up by St Stephen’s church to promote Social, Health, Inner, Natural and Emotional Wellbeing. The church was on the verge of closure 16 years ago but, thanks to the efforts of the local community, it has now become a thriving community base which supports everyone, no matter their background or religious beliefs. Throughout the pandemic, the church has supported the most vulnerable in the community through the provision of food parcels and a pamphlet to help families produce cheap but nutritious meals. They have also formed a clothes bank for children and have moved support group meetings online throughout this time. The church is located in an area of deprivation, and the activities run by SHINE are of invaluable help to the community.
Northern Ireland – Volunteers at Mount Merrion, Belfast
The volunteers at this church deliver support programmes with a focus on wellbeing, health and good nutrition through a variety of activities including running an allotment, hosting shared meals and providing education. The church is part of the East Belfast Coronavirus Community Support network and run a telephone line for people who need support throughout this time. They have been streaming their church services online and have a number of volunteers on hand to provide practical support for vulnerable people. The church has delivered up to 40 food parcels each week to families in need, as well as cleaning parcels and activity packs for children to assist them with their home learning while schools are closed.
Scotland – Volunteers at St Mary’s, Port Glasgow
St Mary’s is at the heart of a strong, close-knit community in an area of high unemployment due to the decline in ship building, which had once been the lifeblood of the town. Only 18 out of the 70 parishioners have access to the internet, and so the Reverend has taken to call people every 10 to 14 days throughout the pandemic to see if they need assistance of any kind. The volunteers at the church have produced a newsletter entitled ‘Forget Me Not’ which is produced every two weeks and keeps parishioners up to date with recent news at the church and in the community. The newsletters are often hand-delivered by volunteers, who provide much needed social contact for vulnerable parishioners and are also able to help them with any practical tasks (delivering shopping or collecting prescriptions) at the same time.
Wales – Morriston Tabernacle, Morriston, Swansea
Morriston Tabernacle is known as “the cathedral of chapels” and has an important civic role in the community in Swansea. Volunteers at the Tabernacle run an outreach programme based on musical performance and community support activities. Unfortunately, these activities were due to really get going as the pandemic hit and lockdown came into place, and so plans have had to be put on hold until it is safe to do so. The panel agreed that this Award would be a boost of motivation to the volunteers to get these activities up and running as soon as possible, as they will ensure that the community is looked after while also maintaining the cultural heritage of Wales through the music activities.