Key to the work of Faithworks, is the partnerships that they build with and between local churches, local authorities and other third sector organisations. Through the following overview of his week, Faithworks CEO, Alistair Doxat-Purser, gives us a flavour of the challenges faced by the communities across Dorset, and the work that Faithworks and their partners do to bring hope to those struggling materially and emotionally.


It is a new week and the Faithworks team start the morning by gathering online from all over Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole (“BCP”) and East Dorset to pray. We celebrate the small victories of the past week and pray for God’s Kingdom to come this week. 

Afterwards, I look at my emails from Friday. In my inbox is an email from our Christchurch Foodbank-Plus manager, it reads: 

We have a single mum, she has 3 jobs and works really hard, the cost of living crisis means she needs to come for food regularly; yesterday she messaged me in desperation as she is going to be short for her rent this month as the cost of everything else rises and her wages don’t. We are taking her food and hardship money today (to put on electric card) and making an appointment for her to come in and meet with the Community Money Advice gang. So, so sad…”


This lady’s story is becoming a more commonplace reality; it reminds me again that having that support all in one place for people is so vital.

The evening brings with it a more positive story. Our lone parent families project, SMILE, is running a Regenerate” community meal this evening, with our friends at the Poole Pantry. At the last community meal, a teenager was able to do their homework because of a laptop donated by a local church, and the kids loved taking part in an arts and crafts session. This is a lovely example of how the Warm Welcome spaces churches are providing during this time of crisis are so much more than just about keeping people warm.


I hear from one of our staff members who helps run In Touch, a community meal for those experiencing homelessness or vulnerable housing, held in a church in the town centre of Bournemouth. She has linked up five people sleeping rough with the street outreach team at homelessness charity St Mungo’s. As well as feeding many, our joint team at In Touch were able to help a further four people in a multiplicity of ways: one had lost their mobile phone, another had health concerns, and so on. Even during busy times, In Touch is a God-filled space of safety and trust for many local people.


Our office space is host to a Kintsugi Hope course. The course is led by volunteers from the community church nearby and helps people talk about and tackle mental wellbeing issues. Many of the people in attendance are on recovery journeys from a range of addictions, so the regularity of the sessions is helpful, and there is trust in the room to talk about mental health. One of our team delightedly tells me that, after chewing it over for months, one of the men from the group is going to Teen Challenge’s rehabilitation centre this week, thanks to the team’s gentle encouragement and the building of his confidence.


I chair the online meeting of the local homelessness partnership communications action group. We are really encouraged that, despite only being a small charity, Faithworks has been given the opportunity to chair this group. Other members of the group include the lead councillor for homelessness, the council partnership officer, and reps from the Business Improvement District, the local university, Shelter, St Mungos, and Citizens Advice. We discuss our current campaign Let’s Talk Renting” that encourages people to seek help if struggling to pay their rent. This is a particularly important campaign as Bournemouth is a place with high rents and relatively low average salaries. We also discuss the revamp of our campaign to make it easier for the public to give to the work of local agencies helping individuals stay off the street: this would be great for local churches to engage with. 


Friday has come around quickly. It is time to pray with trustees and give thanks for so many imaginative partnerships that we have with local churches. We thank God for the storehouse held in the sports hall of a local church, that is filled with donated furniture and white goods for those moving out of emergency shelter; for the carpentry workshop held in another church and attended by probation-referred trainees making exquisite wooden goods to sell for Christmas in our Doorstop shop; and for the team at the Poole Foodbank-plus, teaming up with a nearby church to run a community cost of living event.

As I sit and reflect on the week gone by, there are a couple of things that the Lord has put on my heart at this time:

First, that we are not called to solve everything, or indeed make everything better. But we can give people hope for today and celebrate with them in the little victories. These victories range from receiving a recipe bag alongside their food-parcel, a health appointment getting sorted, a benefits application submitted, or increasingly, seeing them at church on Sunday; all steps on the journey out of material and emotional poverty.

Second, what an opportunity God’s people have to practice alongside-ness’ at this time; it’s a value that we love at Faithworks. People want places to go to this winter to keep warm, but also to feel safe, and listened to, with a sense of belonging. Our local council want our help in creating a map of Warm Spaces and I am able to share with them the good news that churches in every part of our conurbation are putting their hands up to be those alongside’ places.

As I turn for home, the words from John 1 that we use in Advent take on a new reality for me: as the Message puts it: The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out… the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood”. Good news!