Circuit Newsletter April 2022

United Stockport Newsletter  April 2022

United Stockport Newsletter
April 2022

Dear friends,

I’m sure over the last few weeks we have all being making our own response to the situation unfolding in Ukraine, and its surrounding countries. And there is plenty we can do. We can give of course, money and things, but we can also pray, speak, write to our MPs and politicians to ask them to take the necessary steps to put pressure on Putin and his oligarch cronies. We can resolve not to complain too much when the price of petrol or other goods goes up for us because of sanctions on Russia, and we can begin to think about finding ways in which we can offer hospitality when Ukrainian refugees begin to arrive. Stockport has one of the largest Ukrainian communities in the UK so this is probably inevitable, and I am sure that many of you will have already registered with the government scheme to offer to host someone if you have a spare room. If you have done so, or are thinking about it, please can you let me know? I would like to gather a picture of how many rooms we might be able to offer across the circuit so that if there is the possibility of welcoming a group of people through our contacts with the European Methodist Church then we can do so. In the meantime, carry on and register your interest with the Home Office scheme and then apply for the matching process through RESET (https://www.homesforukraine.org.uk/) If you are not able to offer a room but feel you might be able to support someone who can, also let me know. It will be a time-consuming thing to support someone well – it will be about offering more than just accommodation - and if we can approach this as a community then the load can be shared.

In addition to thinking about how we can support those from Ukraine, the Circuit has given its final approval to move ahead with our plan to register as a Community Refugee Sponsor to house a family in our Mile End Lane Manse. This is a more formal and complex process than that for Ukrainian refugees and it is my hope that we will be able to house a family from Syria or Afghanistan or one of the other conflicts around the world which are in danger of being forgotten about at the moment. When we speak compassionately of Ukrainian refugees, it is important that we remember that there are thousands of others, from other lesser known, just as terrible conflicts around the world who are also looking to us for help at the same time. It’s important that we continue to encourage the message that as a country we do have room, we are not full, we can help, and our help cannot be selective. Our ongoing Welcome Group at Dialstone Lane which supports asylum seekers currently housed in the Britannia Hotel in Stockport is always in need of volunteers. Please let me know if you are sometimes free on Tuesday afternoons to offer a few hours to help there.

All of this is happening in the light of one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation to be brought to parliament in recent years. The Nationality and Borders Bill seeks to criminalise anyone arriving in the UK seeking asylum who has not come through one of the official routes. With the exception of those coming from Ukraine, there are barely any official routes open to people, and very, very, few folk can arrive this way, which is why people are forced to take their lives into their hands on flimsy boats and in the backs of lorries. Most experts say that criminalising those arriving will not in any way act as a deterrent. Please read more about this here: https://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/ and think about writing to your MP, to ask them to vote for amendments which will alter the bill to provide safe and accessible routes for those seeking sanctuary.

In our lament and in our action we are following in the footsteps of Jesus who was not afraid to stand up for good in the face of evil and not count the cost. We are now deep into the Lenten season, approaching the events of Holy Week and the joy of the resurrection which lies beyond. Yet we must not talk about the miracle of the resurrection without going through the pain of Good Friday. Easter only exists within the context of Lent. These things are inextricably linked, opposite sides of the same coin if you like. It is precisely BECAUSE Jesus lived the life he did that he died. In his challenging of the hypocritical and divisive status quo of his society. In his demonstrations of unconditional love and grace to those who were outcast and different. These were the actions (call them miracles if you like!) that led the people of his day, and people ever since, towards an understanding of what it means to be living in God’s way. Actions which lead to a revisioning of relationships, relationships between peoples, and the relationship between people and the earth.
God’s intention for God’s diverse human race is about living and thriving alongside those from whom we are different, it is about being aware of our connectedness, aware of those who are vulnerable in our midst doing all we can to uphold and build one another up. The death of Jesus can only be understood in the context of how Jesus lived, and the resurrection can only be understood alongside an acceptance of the true challenge which lies at the heart of the gospel for the way God calls us to live. This is the depth of the love which Christ holds for the world and its people – a love that in the face of death and destruction always offers the possibility of hope and new life; right now we are called in whatever ways we can to open our hearts (and our lives and our homes) to allow that love to be experienced by those who need it most. And we pray, that just as we weep, just as Christ weeps with us and with the people of Ukraine, that across the world just somehow there might be the miracle of transformation of heart and mind and action which I believe is the true meaning of Easter.

With greetings and blessings for Lent, Holy Week and Easter,

Rev. Cathy Bird


The yurt is coming to Merseyway Shopping Centre in Stockport during April 2022, as part of The United Stockport Circuit of The Methodist Church listening and storytelling project. For full details please visit http://stockportyurt.mywebcommunity.org/. We would love your support so please drop by!


 

Would you like to volunteer but don't want to make a big commitment. The Yurt project could use your helping hand! This might also be a good opportunity to get your children or grandchildren into volunteering because they will be off school. Let JoAnne Know if you can help by emailing communityhmuc@gmail.com.


 

This is an open air service. Seating is limited but you are welcome to bring folding chairs. Two nearest car parks (2-minute walk) are at Piccadilly Car Park, SK1 1DY (£1.80 for 2 hours) Mersey Shopping Centre Car Park, entry via St Petersgate SK1 1HL (40p for 2 hours). Toilet facilities will be available within St Peter's Church.



Eco Tips for April

Re–use: Inner cereal packets make good freezer bags.

Re-think: Mow grass less to allow flowers to bloom, encouraging wildlife.

Re-think: Buy material bin liners, which can be washed and re-used.

 


 

Good news from Edgeley

1. Since Feb this year, our Messy Church has received sponsorship from Morrisons. It definitely helps with the meal for the group, reduces the costs of the church finance, and also raises the profile of Edgeley Community Church - our Messy Church is an important mission in the area.

2. Our new project, Family Space, is awarded with Stockport Homes Community Fund which will fund our project for a year and start in April, providing us with the cash for healthy breakfasts, toys, books, games, gifts, training for staff/volunteers in food hygiene, first aid and mental health first aid courses. Again, this is not just about money, it's being recognised by the community that the church is doing a good job.

 

 

 

Good news item from Dialstone Lane

Welcome Group

Many of you will know that since October 2021, The Britannia Hotel on Dialstone Lane has been used by Serco, on behalf of the Home Office, to accommodate more than 300 asylum seekers at any one time. They range in age from new-born children to older people struggling with some of the infirmities old age can bring, along with school and college age children, young couples, pregnant women, and single people still in their 20’s and 30’s. They come mainly from the Middle East, Kurdish Iraqis and Iranians, but there is a huge range of languages spoken and countries represented. The population at the hotel changes as people move on and more move in.

As we had organised for a similar situation back in 2016, along with our friends at St Peter’s RC Church in Hazel Grove and at Stockport Baptist Church, so we were able to set up a “Welcome Group” quickly at Dialstone Lane, running on Tuesday afternoons, starting on November 2nd. We offer refreshments – healthy and treats! – crafts, board games, a train set, Duplo and outside play activities for the children, English teaching, as well as a chance to chat, away from the four walls of a hotel room. We have welcomed between 25 and 50 people each week.

Covid has been a complication as we did not want to have too many people in our hall and become a super spreader event, but by dividing the invitations to our activities between different hotel rooms with the other churches, that has been managed. Apart from a break for some weeks in Dec/Jan due to rising Covid numbers at the hotel, the sessions have run every week.

As “dispersed accommodation” becomes available, so the folk are moved away, around the North West; sadly this is often done at short notice, so some of our contacts are fleeting. An example is the four weeks we were able to offer our welcome on a Sunday morning when a group of young Iranian Farsi speaking Christians joined us. They had a gifted interpreter of English to Farsi amongst them, so we were able to feed the audio version of the service through to another room, set up for a church service, and he was able to provide a simultaneous translation of the service. A member of our congregation sat with them and was able to lead the hymn singing. But a fortnight ago the interpreter was moved, along with his elderly parents and unfortunately there was no-one else to take his place. A number of folk, with other first languages, come and join our service and it is good to be reminded of how precious the opportunity is to come together and worship, even in a foreign language.

We have been very happy to be supported by volunteers from around the Circuit, with a strong core of folk from Dialstone Lane; we need at least 12 people each week if we are to offer the range of activities, including outside play, safely, even if the numbers of guests are fewer some weeks. Initially we were told that the hotel contract was until the end of January, then the end of April, but we now learn that it has been renewed for 12 months. As holiday time approaches (we all hope after the last 2 years!), so we will need more volunteers, particularly as many of our existing volunteers take on caring responsibilities for grandchildren during school holidays. We very much want to continue offering weekly sessions, but are taking a break over Easter, restarting on Tuesday, April 26th.

If you are at all interested in learning more about volunteering, be it to help with refreshments, join in outside play, crafts, board games or helping with English conversation or purely with setting up or clearing away, please contact Catriona Stoker via email: cat.stoker@btinternet.com or phone; 0161 487 2010
Thank you.

 


 


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