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29 May 2013

How Christian collaborations are changing the face of Wales

How Christian collaborations are changing the face of Wales

Far from being a dying breed, Christian churches and organisations are changing the face of modern Wales.

A new book published by Gweini, an umbrella body for the Christian voluntary sector in Wales, profiles 10 examples of dynamic partnerships that are making a huge difference to hundreds of thousands of people in the nation.

Power of Ten, written by Cardiff writer and Baptist minister, Gethin Russell-Jones, highlights social projects across Wales that are run by Christians for the benefit of people of all faiths and none.

These range from local initiatives such as the capital city's Rainbow of Hope to well-known national enterprises such as the Trussell Trust's food banks and Street Pastors.

These are not worthy works seeking attention but services that are literally feeding, protecting and supporting many of the nation's most vulnerable residents. For example, in 2012 food banks in Wales provided three days of emergency food provision to 29,049 individuals, including 10,328 children.

A number of cutting edge campaigns are portrayed in the book. Cardiff-based Big Ideas are in the vanguard of a campaign to stop human trafficking. Under the banner of #notonmywatch, hundreds of people have petitioned the Welsh government to bring an end to this barbaric form of modern day slavery. In Newport, Bethel Community Church has pioneered community services for the city'ss many refugees and asylum seekers.

And the list goes on and on: including night shelters, debt-counselling, family support and Welsh language projects.

Other projects covered in the book include: Swansea Hope; Mission Wrexham, Cylch ti a fi: Ystrad Mynach, Foodbank: Tylerstown, Green Pastures: Denbigh; and Christians Against poverty: Pontypool.

Elfed Godding, national director of Evangelical Alliance Wales, said: "I believe that this is a very important moment for the Christian voluntary sector in Wales.We've moved from the shadows of small local projects to essential services offered through national networks.

"With the UK government's benefit changes now in force, organisations such as food banks and Christians Against Poverty are prepared for a greatly increased demand for their services.

"Of course, all these projects depend on thousands of ordinary Christians freely giving their time, and often their money, in order to help their fellow citizens. This book is a celebration of their dedication and passion."

Power of Tencosts £5.99 and is available at http://www.gweini.org.uk