Helen CroudAs many of you will already know Helen Croud is leaving us soon to take up a new and exciting challenge! Helen has been accepted to train with the Church of England to become an ‘Ordained Incumbent Pioneer Minister’! Her training will begin in September and will mean a move to Oxford with her family.

We will of course be sad to lose her, but excited for her coming adventure!

Over the last 3 years Helen’s passion and dedication has seen the birth and growth of Open House – a community outreach program offering housing & benefits advice and emergency food aid to those in need, in a friendly coffee shop environment. Many of you have encouraged, been part of and supported Open House and we felt that it would be really helpful to communicate to everyone the plan for the project going forward after Helen’s departure.

Open House has always, and will continue to be, operated by a ‘Core Team’. This has changed several times over the 3 years but the present core team is made up of John Newton, Alan Kirkham, Linda East and Andrew Baddeley, with Helen Beecham as admin support. Over the last 6 months Helen Beecham has been able to take on the majority of admin tasks, and from mid August Helen Crouds other roles will be covered by members of the core team.

Linda already does a great job overseeing our welcome team, and will now oversee clients and volunteers while Open House is operating every Tuesday between 10 – 2. Alan has been our treasurer since we launched but will now also be looking at funding and grant applications. John has been a great asset to our core team and as well as being one of our housing advisors will coordinate training for our volunteers. Andrew will provide overall pastoral support for the project. We also want to give a mention to Simon Baddeley who has committed to being in the Sanctuary every Tuesday while the session is running, to offer prayer support to anyone who needs it. We really appreciate this, and it has already borne fruit.

In this way we are confident that we can continue to offer many of the same services that we have done over the last 3 years and continue to show love & support to the community.

Open House will continue to run from, and be supported by, Fathers House but one of the real joys of our volunteer team has always been that it is made up of members from all the different churches in Shaftesbury – the community coming together to serve the community!

We would really appreciate your prayers during this transition, and specifically for funding. Open House relies on grants and gifts to continue to operate – the project has been operating on a minimal budget of approx £10,000 per year to cover wages, training for housing & benefits advisors, purchasing the household & toiletries packs that we give out to those in need, and to run & maintain our Store House van. However we know that going forward we need gifts and grants of approx £20,000, so that we can be as effective as possible in continuing to offer the support that we know is so desperately needed in the community. A big leap! But God has been faithful throughout and we trust that He will provide all that we need.

If you feel led to give a one off gift or support Open House regularly by direct debit please talk to Helen Beecham for more information or email her on helen@fathershouseshaftesbury.co.uk.

And lastly, we recognise that in the long term it would be great for Open House to have a passionate person to take up the vision, head up the project and inspire us to press in to what God is doing through Open House! And this is definitely still an open vacancy! We believe that the Lord has someone perfect for this role!

 Group photo