House of Commons praise for "innovative" community project
Published on 9 March 2022 6 minutes read
A new project spearheaded by a North Lanarkshire Church to support people living with addictions has been recognised in the House of Commons.
The New Life Recovery Hub at South Wishaw Parish Church offers fresh hope to vulnerable men and woman from the town and surrounding area who are "struggling with life controlling issues"
Run in partnership with a Christian charity called Street Connect, it has been described in an Early Day Motion lodged by Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, as an excellent example of "innovative community work".
Launched last September, the New Life Recovery Hub is based in converted rooms on the upper floor of the church building and offers people battling substance and alcohol abuse the opportunity of transformational change.
The project was developed by Rev Terry Moran who has a vision for South Wishaw Parish Church to be a missional church with a holistic approach to supporting the whole community, particularly those on the margins of society.
It is open on Tuesdays and Fridays – the same days that the church hosts the Wishaw Community Foodbank which is sadly very well used.
The New Life Recovery Hub is led by the minister's brother, Danny Moran, who was recruited because he has many decades experience in the field of social work.
He and his Street Connect colleagues initially reached out to vulnerable people on the streets of Wishaw to learn about their circumstances before inviting them back to the hub, which has its own entrance.
Only a handful of people attended in the first month but word quickly spread and now around 60 people use the facility every week.
Danny Moran said: "This is a unique partnership project in Wishaw and very much needed because I have talked to nearly 200 people about the hub with only one saying that they did not know someone with an addiction.
"I have worked with people with addictions for many years and if you meet them where they are and speak to them like human beings and offer them a hand up, you can help them to change.
"I am really chuffed with the House of Commons recognition because we started with nothing and it has been hard work."
Danny Moran admitted that he was initially a bit reluctant to take on the role because he had just retired and he lives more than an hour away from Wishaw.
"The night before the interview someone tried to take their own life outside the entrance of the New Life Recovery Hub and that was enough for me to get involved," he added.
"If God is ever going to tell you that you have to go to a place to do work in His name, an event like that will give you a shake."
New figures published by the National Records of Scotland this week showed there were 2,576 "avoidable" alcohol and drug related deaths in 2020 – 52 deaths per 100,000 people.
Street Connect grew out of the outreach of the independent Glasgow City Church in 2013 and works in partnership with local churches to create projects where they can provide support and build relationships.
It also operate projects in Glasgow, Clydebank, Paisley, Greenock and Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill.
Esther O'Connor is an outreach worker with Street Connect and she and her colleague Lee Gow work at the New Life Recovery Hub on Tuesdays between 1pm-3.30pm.
"It is a safe space for people to come and we spend time chatting with them to build relationships, teas and coffees are served and there are pool tables and a table tennis table," she said.
"We run one-to-one sessions with men and women and work with them through a personal transformational plan which is a way to track their recovery process.
"In addition to addiction recovery support, we provide general advocacy for issues like housing problems, benefits and fuel poverty and have started a Bible Study using Liberation Theology material created by an American pastor called Bob Ekblad."
Mrs O'Connor said service users are referred to outside agencies if they require more formal support like residential rehab.
"There is a sense that this project is really needed in Wishaw and you feel the relationships building week on week and people feel a sense of belonging," she added.
"Churches are not social clubs, they are meant to exist to be the light in the world and work for people who need God's love, care, redemption and healing.
"Although the COVID-19 lockdown provided churches with a lot of time for reflection and soul searching, Terry has had this vision for a long-time and it is exciting to see South Wishaw Parish Church stepping into its calling.
"People are engaging and I think this partnership will flourish but we need more workers and volunteers on the ground."
Mrs Fellows visited South Wishaw Parish Church last Friday.
She said: "I had a very interesting and informative time at the New Life Recovery Hub.
"I also met with caseworkers from Street Connect who work closely with local people affected by drug and alcohol addiction.
"Their work is driven by their Christian faith and they have had some remarkable successes with people they have worked with in Glasgow.
"I was shown round the centre in Wishaw and was really impressed by the facilities on offer and the fact that in a very short time they have been able to make a difference to those who need their help."
Church member Gillian Davie is a volunteer at Wishaw Community Food Bank which opened in April 2021.
It supports people who walk in off the street and those referred by agencies like Citizens Advice and the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Mrs Davie said: "People choose what non-perishable items they want and we have teamed up with a charity called Basics which provide vouchers for fresh food.
"Since we launched we have had near to 1,000 people though the door and demand has increased recently because of the rise in the cost of living.
"You see that when people come through the door they might need the initial food support but there are other things going on in their lives.
"We work closely with the New Life Recovery Hub and have referred people to them and have linked up with Citizens Advice and Aura, a domestic violence charity to ensure people get the support they need."
Wishaw Community Food Bank relies on donations from individuals, community and faith groups and retailers like Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl and Poundland.
Rev Terry Moran said: "All my working life I have had a passion for trying to help people out of circumstances that they have found themselves in, often through no fault of their own.
"I worked in prisons in London with people who had drug problems and concluded that the only way to help them is to bring the light of Christ into their lives because I saw so many of them returning time after time because they got into the same mess.
"As a minister, I want to make a difference, not just to individuals but to a community.
"So that is why we are using a holistic approach, feeding people through the food bank and spiritually through Street Connect, which is a wonderful ministry and we have a fantastic relationship."
The minister said he is very pleased with the impact of the New Life Recovery Hub so far.
"Danny is so gifted with people, he has a huge heart and encourages everyone and lets them know how appreciated and loved they are," he added.
"Marion is such a lovely woman and I was delighted that she has acknowledged the work that the people of South Wishaw Parish Church and Street Connect are doing in the House of Commons.
"It was great that she was able to come and visit the project and I am pleased that she recognises that the church has a heart for the community and wants to support everyone involved."