Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Constructive encounters

A meeting at City United Reformed Church this evening, bringing together thirty volunteers from several networks of people involved in soup runs and street caring activities, together with five Council officials concerned with homelesness and housing. They were following through the initiative made by Mike Friel six weeks ago, when there had been a meeting of half a dozen volunteers, four staff and me.

On this occasion, I had the task of welcoming everyone explaining the purpose of the event - to consider how together we could raise the standard of care to people on the streets. The rest was then facilitated superbly by Paul Hocking, Pastor of Thornhill Community Church.

A meeting that began with a slight air of uncertainty unfolded with great warmth, enthusiasm and a good degree of frankness about some problem areas. We finished in decent time and set another date to meet and hopefully start developing a programme of empowerment. Many people lingered and chatted in a relaxed way for ages afterwards.

I felt pleased and grateful to be able to play a small part in making something like this happen. This kind of dialogue been needed for years.