Faith leaders want to update a key document to reflect the growing contribution to the wellbeing of residents in St Helens, a senior minister has revealed.
Rev Phillip Fell, senior leader at the Christian Life Centre, was invited to St Helens Council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny panel to discuss collaborative working with the voluntary sector.
He said ministers, through the Faith Forum, are looking to update the Faith Action Audit, which provides evidence for both the social impact and the economic value of all that faith groups do in the St Helens community.
The document was published in 2015 from the Cinnamon Network in collaboration with St Helens charity SHINE, which closed in 2016.
Rev Fell said: “We’re looking at refreshing this kind of information because that’s now three years old and things have changed – church ministers certainly have changed in three years.
“One of the things we’re looking to do is refresh that, find out what’s going on across the churches that is contributing to the wellbeing in our borough and our residents and that has an impact therefore on St Helens Cares, on mental health, physical health, social isolation and so-on and so-forth.”
The Christian Life Centre, which is often referred to as the Hope Centre, provides a number of community initiatives.
One of these is the BREATHE programme, a free eight-week course aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of St Helens residents.
The centre also runs the St Helens Foodbank, in collaboration with the Trussell Trust.
The foodbank provides emergency food, enough for three days, through a voucher system, which are provided by support agencies across the town.
Rev Fell said through six hubs, based in different locations throughout St Helens, the foodbank fed 4,723 people in the last year.
The minister said the level of food donated by the St Helens community is “absolutely stunning”, although he admitted it has become difficult to manage.
In 2015, the Hope Centre established the Baby Basics Project to help pregnant women who were using the church’s foodbank services.
Rev Fell said the church has distributed 170 Moses Basket Starter Packs to expectant mums over the past year.
Given the increasing level of support from the faith sector, Rev Fell said the “majority” of churches in the town believe there is a wider remit for their existence.
He also revealed that the Hope Centre is supporting a number of Syrian refugees.
“The Syrian refugees are coming to us regularly now and the majority of those are Muslim,” he said.
“But they are coming into a Christian church.
“From my point of view, they should be as welcome as anybody else that comes in on a Sunday morning, and they should know that.”
Kenny Lomas , Local Democracy Reporting Service