Church Family Worker, Mark Harrison, couldn't help wondering what had happened to the young people who used to attend the former Nichols Youth Project at Louth Methodist Church. Where are they now? If they are still in Louth some are likely to be in low paid jobs coping with struggles such as debt, relationship problems and poor mental health. How could the church continue to connect with these people now perhaps in their 20s, 30s or 40s?
A few years ago a drop in was started on a Friday attracting 20 to 30 people; people on their own, perhaps disadvantaged. When these people started to ask if they could take home the spare fruit that was available Mark realised that people couldn't afford their own fruit and so the church started to prepare 8 or 9 food parcels per week.
A vision day in February 2020, just before lockdown began, clarified the churches desire to reach out and bring hope and from there the work has begun to snowball.
Then along came the pandemic and the outreach project which had become known as the Lighthouse Project started to grow. It has since drawn in more people as participants and helpers and is making valuable links with organisations such as the Co-op, HSBC and two schools who provide valuable practical and financial support. Other user groups in the church such as the Textile Group are also keen to get involved (they made the banner shown in the photo). Some of the people who come into the church are involved in making scenery for the Christmas angel festival and others have got involved in a garden maintenance project at a local neighbourhood park.
There are now two drop in sessions on a Wednesday and a Friday. People can take away a food parcel or borrow a jigsaw or game from the jigsaw library. At its peak 50 food parcels were provided in a week. On a Friday a hot meal is available with 30 people attending regularly.
A recent Sunday breakfast resulted in some new people stopping on for the regular Sunday service. Mark says that there are lots of opportunities.
On the whole the church is very supportive and very involved in the Lighthouse Project. He sees his role as galvanising the church into action however some of the best volunteers are those on the margins who have benefited from the welcome and help they have received. People want to be involved and Mark wants to encourage this.
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