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11 April 2011

Church to hold urban mission experience day

Church to hold urban mission experience day

Located in the south-east of the UK's second largest city, Birmingham, Springfield has a rich mix of cultures, but higher than average levels of deprivation. Local church St Christopher's has been tackling the area's poverty head-on, and wants to share its experiences with other churches around the country.

Since partnering with the city's council to run a children's centre in 2008, the church has been running services for the community since 1998 - initially through a Play and Stay group for mums.

In Springfield employment rates are low and poverty is high. Soon after starting the Play and Stay group the church saw that families also needed other support too. Says Michelle Parton, project operations manager at the centre: "Soon it became clear that families had other pressing needs such as nursery places for children to progress into, and support with issues often associated with the effects of poverty. The project found funding, employed a manager and started to develop its services."

Following their successes here and in running the children's centre, the church now wants to encourage other churches in similar projects.

Holding a Springfield Experience Day on 12 May, they want to share their learning and experiences of the centre work and support churches ministering in multi-faith urban areas. 

Now providing services to more than 1,000 children under five and their families, the work that St Christopher's has been doing, in particular with the Pakistani Asian community, has been widely recognised with The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams opening the Springfield Centre in 2008.

"We want to help other churches and Christian organisations in the process of developing a community project. We will share our journey, look at common issues and provide a resource pack to take away," says Michelle.

Adds Angie King, head of the centre: "Working at the Springfield Project is inspiring. There is a sense of the Holy Spirit at work here, in a diverse team of people with a genuine commitment to see every child and family experience life to the full. That's not to say it's easy. It's hard, very hard sometimes, but it is possible, and that's exciting."

For tickets and to find out more about the event go to the Springfield Experience website

The Springfield Centre runs education and integrated day care; family support and parental outreach; child and family health services and links with organisations offering training and employment for parents