10 May 1996

Local church an important contributor

NO local authority money is available to support church-run community care projects so the names of many rural schemes have been changed in order to qualify for cash.

This is one of the significant findings of research carried out by the Churches Rural Resource Centre based at the Arthur Rank Centre, Stoneleigh. The centre was invited by the Midshire Caring Trust to consider the need for a national rural fund.

Competitions were organised to find out what schemes were running in the countryside and 92 projects nationwide responded. They showed that local churches play an important part in organising schemes and supplying volunteers for general community projects. These fulfil needs ranging from respite care to work with families with young children.

Examples of "good neighbour" schemes include the Lydbrook Youth and Community Project which serves three villages in Gloucestershire providing a summer play scheme, a counselling service, a welfare advice service and an occasional day centre for people with learning difficulties.

Cheadle and District Live at Home scheme in Staffordshire provides extra contact with the outside world for residents who want to stay in their own homes for as long as is practical by providing a luncheon club.

Communicare is the scheme based at Poole in Dorset which provides volunteers for all sorts of jobs from collecting prescriptions to fixing broken window catches, while Wroxham/Hoveton/Belaugh Community Care Council in Norfolk provides alarm telephones for the housebound as well as providing transport with their own minibus.

Elfrida Savigears account* of the research project is essential reading for those dealing with the needs of people living in rural areas, and shows that, in Elfridas words, the church is "going out and serving the community".

Jean Howells

*The Servant Church by Elfrida Savigear is available from ACORA Publishing at Arthur Rank Centre, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LZ (£4.10 inc p&p).