Saturday, 5 December 2009

SCFRG meeting

The SCFRG met on 30.11.09 at Thornhill Church Centre, to review the first training meeting in the light of feedback and sketch plans for further training sessions in the coming year.

Three basic training sessions, one per school term, is the aim for 2010, with three additional in depth sessions also to be arranged on special topics.

Work on producing Street Carer i/d cards for training attendees who have registered and CRB checked is now under way.

The WALLICH'S newly produced Rough Guide to Sleeping Rough in Cardiff was introduced to the meeting, and attention drawn to another new and useful document for those in Street Care work - The Rights Guide for Rough Sleepers, which can be downloaded here

A record of the meeting can be downloaded here

Feedback from the training meeting can be downloaded here

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

SCF First Training Session

The first training evening for Cardiff Street Carers took place this evening at County Hall. Present were 75 people, comprising 68 volunteers, 6 members of the City's Housing and Neighbourhood Renewal Team and 1 Salvation Army worker.

Presentations on a variety of aspects of Street Care work were made by five volunteers and five professionals. Details of the programme can be found here.

An edited video of most of the evening's contribution is available here.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

SCFRG briefing for Pastors

At its meeting 13.08.09, the SCFRG decided to invite church leaders and street care team members from across Cardiff to gather and receive a briefing on the work of the group over the past nine months, and plans in hand for training and accreditation of Street Care volunteers, and the formation of a partnership with statutory agencies concerned with housing and social care.

Twenty eight people attended, including pastors from fourteen churches.

The response of the meeting was an encouragement to the SCFRG to continue with plans for the training evening. he date for this is now set for 6th October.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

SCFRG meeting

Tonight's meeting in County Hall, was attended by several members of the Rainbow of Hope Management Committee. The group had previously stated that it no longer wished to be part of the on going initiative of the Street Carers Forum, and attended on this occasion to give an explanation of their reasons for this decision.

The Representative Group accepted this with much regret, and resolved to continue with the plans already agreed, and work towards setting up a formal partnership with the City Council, making use of a common set of standards and an agreed policy of safe working practices.

A record of the meeting can be downloaded here

Saturday, 25 July 2009

SCFRG meeting

Summary notes of the 9th July SCFRG meeting, agreed for publication, can now be downloaded from here

The next SCFRG meeting will take place at County Hall on Thursday 13th August at 7.00pm.

On the agenda for discussion will be a draft paper outlining safe working policy and practices for Street Carers. This can be viewed here

Friday, 19 June 2009

Progress set back

Our aspiration to mount the pilot training course on 9th July has fallen short of being able to deliver.

That evening’s pilot training session must be put back to an, as yet, undetermined early autumn date, in order that the SCFRG can meet again for a thorough review of policy established so far, and to strengthen the relational foundation.

The consensus building process of the past nine months has effectively stalled, and has left the SCF unable to speak to the City Council with one voice. What we have achieved so far is not yet fit for purpose.

If you have reserved that evening to attend the training, please note that it will NOT now take place on that date, and please let others know.

Your prayers for the Representative Group meeting on that evening would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Street Carers Initial Training Session

A date and venue are finally confirmed for the pilot training session for Cardiff Street Carers.

County Hall, Atlantic Wharf, Committee Room 1

7.00 - 10.00pm

Thursday July 9th 2009

The agreed outline of the evening's content can be downloaded from here

An email has been circulated to all who have attended a Street Carers' Forum meeting and given a contact address.

Everyone has to register for this event, to help with organisation, and planning for future events.

There's a .doc file of the registration form you can edit, and email back to our brand new email address :-

There is a .pdf of the registration form you can download, print and post to 'SCFRG Scribe', c/o St John the Baptist City Parish Church, St John Street, Cardiff CF10 1GJ

Please do your best to return a form, by one route or another before 2nd July.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Street Carers Forum Representative Group meets again

The SCFRG met tonight at County Hall to review plans for the forthcoming volunteer training session. It's not been possible to set a firm date for the event, due to diary conflicts on the part of several whose contributions are sought. Agreement is being sought on a midweek evening in the second half of June or early July.

An outline plan of the evening is appended to the notes of the meeting, which can be found here

The date of the training will be posted on this site, as soon as it is agreed.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Easter inspiration

'Rainbow of Hope' founder Elizabeth Perret-Atkins was interviewed by the Reverend Roy Jenkins on the Easter Sunday edition of BBC Radio Wales' programme 'All Things Considered', which reflected on the importance of food in Christian experience.

You can hear an extract from the programme here

The latest 'Rainbow of Hope' newsletter can be downloaded from here

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Forum Representatives meet HANR team

Ten members of the Street Carers Forum Representative Group met tonight with Mike Friel and Paul Whittingham, plus two observers interested in the work.

Working on the basis of the Terms of Reference the discussion focussed on what would be required to realise a formal partnership agreement between the Street Carers Forum and the Council, within the framework of the existing Voluntary Sector Compact framework.

Preparations to lay on a training scheme for team leaders and volunteers, with a pilot evening session for evaluation purposes in June, were discussed, informed by a document prepared for the Representative Group by Louise Thomas. Louise and Paula will liaise on the provision of suitable content and people to deliver it. The Representative Group will meet again at the end of May.

An account of the deliberations of the meeting can be found here

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Representative Group first meeting

The representative group established at the meeting of 28th January last met with all members present for the first time tonight, to review the draft terms of reference and share ideas about the subject matter for a proposed induction / training evening for Street Care volunteers. The group will be known as the Street Carers Forum Representative Group (SCFRG). Whilst it's a bit of a mouthful, the title affirms that its purpose is to represent as far as possible the views of the Street Carer fraternity, both in consensus and diversity, in building a partnership relationship with the City Council and other bodies.

The agreed revised terms of reference can be found here

An account of the deliberations of the meeting can be found here

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

First steps with a Terms of Reference

Paul Hocking and I met with Mike Friel and Paula Whittingham of the Council's Homelessness and Neighbourhood Renewal Team this afternoon - our opportunity to report on the meeting of Street Care volunteers which took place two weeks ago.

Since that meeting, I drafted, and presented to the meeting, an exploratory terms of reference for a Street Carers' Forum, that would entail a small group of experienced representatives of the volunteers meeting periodically with Council officers and others to organise 'capacity building' training events (as the jargon goes) to enable volunteers, especially new volunteers to develop confidence in their activities and acquire new experiences where needed - working safely, first aid, know how about support contacts and so on. Training that will help team leaders work better is also needed. We need as simple a framework as possible that will respect the very different starting points of statutory care service providors on the one hand and religiously motivated volunteer teams on the others. The challenge is to set out from a commonly accepted starting point in understanding what we're about with this Forum.

Mike and Paula seemed pleased with what we brought to the table - hopefully it meant that they understood the document and that it repsented a path to progress from their viewpoint. That's step one. Next week Paul and I will meet with the Street Carers' Representative Group (SCRG for short), to ask if members think it's fit for purpose. Then we have another meeting with a plenary assembly of volunteers, to seal the process of ownership. Then the plans for training session which we envisage will be able to fall into place.

The revised draft terms of reference (.pdf file) for which approval is sought can be found here

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Street Carers conclave

This evening I attended the fourth in a series of meetings of people who arrange soup runs for Cardiff's street people. This was the first meeting to be held in the absence of Council officers, and felt to be important as part of the bonding process that's been going on as these meetings have progressed, between disparate people with common concerns for the poor. They also wanted to meet, aware that all known to be involved so far are practising Christians, motivated by their faith, so this was also an opportunity for faith sharing - something which might stretch the patience of public officials used to functioning under the veil of secular neutrality.

Mine was the privilege of opening the meeting, with no need to remind anyone of why we were there. I simply selected half a dozen brief but appropriate patches of scripture relating to Christian ministry and its core values, from the writings of Paul, James, the author of Hebrews and the Gospels. It was a task which gave me pleasure, and I'd like to think gave the participants pleasure also, from the appreciative grunts and Amens uttered around the room. Each of the differing street caring groups present spoke about what they did and how they went about it. There was a remarkable congruence, and also a remarkable sense of gratitude expressed by people for what they received from their encounters with poor people on the streets.

Many echoed the words of the redoubtable Elizabeth Perret-Atkins, founder of Cardiff's 'Rainbow of Hope' coalition, which organises the best part of a hundred volunteers into rotas spanning the month, when she said : "Essentially its not about feeding or clothing needy people, it's about the people themselves, making community with them in which they can experience Christ's love at work." That's a lot more passionate and compassionate a conviction than the administrative idea of 'service provision for homeless rough sleepers'. It takes a lot of extra commitment, of going the 'second mile' with those in need. And we heard lots of small stories modestly told, about what volunteers get up to, over and above feeding and clothing people.

Elizabeth been applying herself to street ministry for sixteen years, as have several others. One man present, Andy, has been ministering on the streets for thirty years. Two people present were unashamed to say that once they had been out there on the streets on the receiving end, and had been helped to move on by people of faith. It was a joyous occasion, which gave some remarkable insights into an evangelical spirituality grounded in practical service of others. I wish I could have recorded it all to play back to students for the ministry.

My involvement in this process has arisen out of my ministry on the other side of the equation - the concerns and problems experienced by city council workers and management in relation to the poor on the streets and those caring for them. It's been marvellous working with Paul Hocking, Pastor of Thorhill Community Church, and Chair of Cardiff Gweini, with oversight of activities in the Christian voluntary sector, himself a member of a soup run team. He steered the conversation with great sensitivity, ensuring all had a voice. This gave me chance to listen and appreciate all that was being said.

I was pleased that at the end of the evening, the meeting, with 36 attendees endorsed the idea of a Street Carers' forum - a small group of representatives of the wide range of those involved, charged with facilitating good relationships between the voluntary community and the City's officers. This is, to my mind, involves interpreting the Council's intentions to Street Carers, and interpreting Street Carers intentions to the Council, for there is a huge culture gap between the administrative discipline of 'service provision', working within budgetary parameters, making funding bids, allocating resources with the highest of aspirations, and the 'organic' approach of Christian pastoral and missionary outreach, attempting to centre upon the whole person and not just their presenting needs, working with a vision of what it means to be a whole person, saved by grace, rather than managing an 'individual care plan'.

Fundamentally all parties want the same thing : well-being for those in need. However, statutory service provision is guided by the head, voluntary pastoral care, by the heart. Both are needed. Each can achieve in areas that the other cannot. There's no sane alternative to partnership and dialogue.

Now that we have the beginnings of a representative instrument for Street Carers, I believe more constructive moves can follow. There's a long way to travel, and I'm hoping and praying that such a joyous beginning will be characteristic of the journey together.