As the country faces a cost-of-living crisis, Ipswich churches are rising to the challenge to help those in need – both financially and emotionally.
Churches across the town are helping to make life easier, running nine ‘top-up’ shops across Ipswich, while providing vital community spaces for those in need.
Among these is The Lighted Cross (TLC) Renew Wellbeing Café at St Augustine’s Church, which has been running every Wednesday for the last eight months. The event, attended by around 20 people every week, offers people free refreshments and snacks and a host of games, crafts and activities to keep visitors entertained.
Sue Pettitt, who helps run the event, said: “One of the philosophies we have here is we all serve each other, we are all treated like equals. We are all here together. It’s for anyone who feels lonely, has mental health issues, is feeling a bit down, or just wants to come in for a chat. It’s not just church people, anyone can come along. We have our message out with local GPs, occupational health terms and are known by the local mental health trust. The whole idea is to provide a welcoming environment and space where you can just be. Like we say here, ‘it’s OK not to be OK’.”
As well as a welcoming place to have a cup of tea and chat, volunteers help direct visitors towards support services, organisations and helplines – such as Citizens’ Advice and the local Mental Health Trust.
David Muddimer has been attending the Wednesday event since it launched. “You are just accepted for who you are – it’s great,” he said. “We all get on really well together, it’s like one big family. You can wander in, get a cup of tea or juice and some biscuits and then sit down and chat. There’s no agenda, no pretence, you can just do what you want to.”
Triangle Church, in Dickens Road, is another church holding a Wednesday wellbeing event every week from 10.30am to 12.30pm, where people can find a range of support and signposting to relevant service providers, according to their need. Every week, the centre is packed, with scores of people having a cup of tea and a catch-up. This follows the church’s weekly ‘top-up’ shop, which runs from 9.30am to 10.30am.
Rev Lawrence Carey at Triangle Church said: “We all come from different places, but when we walk through the door we are all equal. This is why there is such a nice atmosphere, nobody judges, we all just seek to support each other. From the word go, we have made sure it is accessible to everyone. Regardless of your circumstances, you will find a friend here.”
For more information on Ipswich’s top-up shops, see www.ipswichtopupshops.co.uk
For more information on Triangle Church see www.trianglechurchipswich.com
For more information on St Augustine's Church see www.staugustinesipswich.org.uk