Kirk Moderator praises life-changing Go For It projects in Fife

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair spent a day visiting two projects in Fife which have used Go For It main grants to meet the needs of the local community.

The Moderator with a group of care home residents who attend the weekly cafe
Each week Bennochy Parish Church welcomes residents of a local care home to their community cafe run as part of the Open Door project.

The Open Door Project, based at Bennochy Parish Church in Kirkcaldy, provides a hub for local residents and offers a range of services from a café with IT support to an afterschool board game club.

At Burntisland Parish Church the grant has been used to support a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) debt centre, which gives practical and spiritual help for those experiencing financial

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair said: "It was a huge privilege for Ruth and I to spend the day with Go For It staff visiting two of the many projects they have throughout Scotland.

"What was impressive was the way in which a vision had grown and the energy involved, as well as the way staff and volunteers work together to strengthen the interface between the church and the community.

"We were moved particularly by human lives that had been touched and changed by both projects, where people had been given value and dignity and an identity. It was good to be there - and the food wasn't bad either! "

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair with Ruth Sinclair, development worker Louisa Turner, Rev Robin McAlpine and two volunteers who run the after school club
Back row: Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, development worker Louisa Turner, Rev Robin McAlpine and Ruth Sinclair. Front row: Margaret and Angela, two volunteers who run the after school club

In Bennochy the Moderator met a team of dedicated volunteers who run a weekly café which has been serving around 70 meals every Thursday since 2013.

Development Worker Louisa Turner said: "The café is genuinely the highlight of some volunteers and customers week, they feel bereft when it is not on. It's an opportunity to meet with family and friends and connect with others.We wanted everything to be a joint project with the community and the church. It has been life changing for some volunteers."

Mrs Turner explained that one of the ways they did this was by interacting with the two local primary schools and inviting them to help set up a community garden.

"Over the years they've planted an orchard, planted bulbs and had different activities in the garden", she said.

Members of the congregation have helped to develop an area of a primary school into a vegetable patch.

The café is open to all and among their regulars are residents of a local care home.

During café hours volunteer Debbie oversees computers which anyone can use and provides technical advice, such as assistance with setting up computer tablets.

She spoke of how volunteering regularly has helped to build her confidence.

"I was quite shy and nervous, but I've got IT skills and qualifications - that's what drew me here, an advert on a volunteering website for an IT buddy so I started focusing on that", she explained.

"I had never done anything like it. I custom built a database on the computer to help run the jigsaw swap.

"For me it's a job - it's a payment of feeling useful and having self-worth."

Children from a local primary school came to sing at Bennochy Parish Church's Christmas lunch
Children from a local primary school came to sing at Bennochy Parish Church's Christmas lunch

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair was able to join the café Christmas lunch, which saw around 75 people served with a three course meal.

In Burntisland, the Moderator learnt about the impact that the debt centre has had on people's lives in the local area, and the close ties that it has with the congregation.

Over the last 12 months, around 26 families from Burntisland and Kirkcaldy have been in contact with the service.

Once someone is referred to CAP, volunteers and staff will meet with clients in their houses to take the first step on the road to recovery by going through unopened letters and praying with them if they wish.

From here the volunteers will meet the clients regularly, often in a local coffee shop, and liaise with agencies such as the Department of Work and Pensions, and housing officers.

Burntisland Parish Church runs a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) debt centre. The congregation is dedicated to supporting the work of the debt centre.
Burntisland Parish Church runs a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) debt centre. The congregation is dedicated to supporting the work of the debt centre.

Centre Manager Doug Drysdale said: "Every individual is assessed for what their best route out of debt is.

"Clients are from a big cross-section of society. If someone is uncomfortable coming to this centre we will work with a neighbouring area to provide support.

"It's exciting and humbling that we are allowed into people's lives - we have the best job we could imagine.

"Go For It funding has given a degree of security and enabled us to be more efficient."

Sarah, who had used the service after a change in her personal circumstances, described how the CAP debt centre had "changed my life", before saying she had very recently become debt free.

Including Burntisland Parish Church, there are currently four Kirk congregations who have partnered with CAP.

Rosanne Wilson, a support worker for CAP, explained what is like to be able to help people to find their way out of debt.

She said: "When I knock on someone's door for the first time, I am going to meet a person with a need and it's a big thing - we generally pray in the car before we go in.

"It is an honour and a privilege to sit down in someone's home and listen to them tell you about themselves - their life history, opening up about their difficulties.

"We work through the information together and it's often an eye-opener when we're faced with the facts but we can offer some support and a way forward.

"We've never said we can't help you."

CAP also runs courses for people to attend on topics such as good money management and budgeting.

Find out more about CAP

Find out about Bennochy Parish Church