Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The vital work of Huddersfield Methodist Mission

Huddersfield Methodist Mission
 Part of my family heritage is Methodism. I am not a believer and find a lot of comfort personally in having a humanist outlook. My Grandad on my fathers side was a Miner and a Methodist big style. He was a regular chapel goer who abstained from the demon drink all his life and lived a good life, living by his principles and seemed happy and at one with himself to me. My parents aren't big in terms of church and organised religion but I did get packed off to Methodist Sunday School as a kid each week. Got me out of the house I guess. I attended each week, asked awkward questions and got into trouble now and again. Any of this sounding familiar?

What has impressed me about the Methodists I have come across in Huddersfield is that religion may form the background of their own beliefs but it is their action in the community which really stands out. The Huddersfield Methodist Mission and the work they do for those people in the direst of circumstances is a vital though not statutory service. They work with those people at the margins, the homeless, people with alcohol and drug addiction and people who wonder where the next meal is going to come from. Though the support they offer is very practical it is also very human where they take time and show care to people who may have not received real care from anyone for a very long time. My colleague Cllr Julie-Stewart-Turner has worked closely with the Mission and projects that they host such as 'The Welcome Centre'. As Mayor Julie made 'The Welcome Centre' one of her charities. Just as important as the money she raised was the profile that was given to the project and the acceptance that the Mayor would choose to support a charity which some people would casually characterise as being for 'the undeserving poor'. The tragedy is that the demands for their services is growing as a direct result of government policy. The role of the Council has to be one where we ask what we can do to assist them and also ask where are we being a barrier. One thing I want to ask Julie's advice on and people at the Mission is how we can ensure the Council is a better partner to them. One thing which I know would be very much valued is a phone line on the Kirklees contract to enable staff there to take up benefits queries for clients without racking up huge phone costs. A simple thing but it would be a step in the right direction which would be hugely appreciated

Here's a video about the Mission featuring many of the people who work at The Mission and the incomparable Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner.

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