Engaging in Service
This is an important aspect of what we try to do here at Niddrie. Many of the care professions in the UK are now recognising (rediscovering) the importance of ‘connecting’ people with community. For example, we work closely with a local charity here that cares for people with mental and/or physical needs. ‘Clients’ who used to operate out of a specialist ‘day centre’ now operate out of our community cafe. The carers have full use of our kitchen facilities and an office space with their own secure filing cabinet and the clients have the opportunity to serve in the cafe if they want or to just be around people from the community. It is good for their socialisation skills and it is good for the community to share in that experience with us. One of the great things about Niddrie is that nobody is fazed or discriminates against others and there is a real sense ‘communal mucking in’. This project has allowed us to accomplish several things:
(1) Break down barriers between those who would have once been on the fringe of the community
(2) Break down prejudices with caring ‘professionals’ who would have viewed the church with suspicion
(3) Develop really strong friendships with both carers and clients.
(4) Have the privilege of seeing 2 individuals (to date) come to Christ – one a carer and one client.
(5) Engage in and encourage community members to engage in acts of service for the benefit of the whole.
Oftentimes, we will allow non church members to serve in the cafe or help out around the place. We do have to be both sensitive and selective given that we have money on the premises and some can see us as a soft touch for peddling drugs out the back door. We do find that allowing people to serve opens up a way for us to be able to develop real friendships and closer links as we seek to serve the community together, albeit with different ultimate agendas.