Social Justice: Getting to know your community

On Wednesday February 17, All Saints Belmont hosted a community forum in the church hall. At our most recent parish planning day it was recognised that we had little information about the profile of community that we serve, making it difficult to plan ahead to assist in addressing any social and/or justice related gaps. Our forum aimed to gather information and attempt to determine numbers of people homeless, lonely, disabled, hungry, etc.

Invitations were sent to community leaders, other Churches, local schools, clubs, and media. Notices were posted in all local shopping centres, the library and an extensive letter box drop was undertaken.

The programme included presentations by each Ministry team leader providing information on our current outreach activities. A carer from our GAPs group spoke on her experience as a member of that group and we had a short presentation from a Samaritans representative.

Those who attended the forum participated well and there were many questions, ideas and comments. We were provided with some useful information about how we can move forward in small ways by individuals who are not part of our parish community.

It was strongly suggested that we, as the church must go out into the community rather than expect them to come to us. There were some good suggestions on how this may occur.

The next phase of our project will be to determine methods, targets and evaluation processes for our future work and to follow up on the issues which were identified. This phase must also assess our human resources available to undertake action to address our findings.

All in all this was a useful exercise in education for our parish in regard to learning more about our community and social justice issues in our area. I recommend other parishes host similar events in their own communities.

By Helen Edwards
Social Action Ministry leader
Anglican Parish of Belmont