Linking Lives & Transforming Communities Together

Transforming Communities Together support people and communities to thrive and flourish. Places of Welcome provide safe places in the local neighbourhood where people can belong, connect and participate and Linking Lives aim to combat loneliness and social isolation…with these aims in mind, our Places of Welcome & Buddying Facilitator for the Black Country, Carrie Blount, knew that joining forces, they could provide a really special offering for churches in the Midlands area.

Linking Lives and TCT CROPPED

With isolation becoming an ever increasing problem, hastened by the pandemic over the last eighteen months and the impact this has had on people’s lives in terms of social interaction and finding community, Transforming Communities Together with Linking Lives showcased five ways for churches to engage and interact with their community members in whatever situation that person might find themselves.

We shared five services that could be employed in a toolkit approach, where some or all of the options could be used by a church, with all of them working in harmony with each other. The first two options were provided by Linking lives in the form of physical and telephone befriending and the other options provided by Transforming Communities Together were in the form of online and physical group communities and lastly, a pilot scheme, providing a volunteer Place of Welcome buddy to help community members transition from home visiting and befriending to a group community venue.

Each of these provisions reach community members whatever their current circumstance. Anxious about leaving the house, then physical, telephone or group online community could be for you. Wanting to join a community group and widen a friendship circle, then engaging a Place of Welcome buddy or trying out a Place of Welcome in your local neighbourhood could be that next step. Temporarily unable to attend a community group, then instead of missing out, join an online group or chat to a befriender over the phone. No one person need be isolated, community can be held in online and physical spaces and moving in and out of those groups means that community is not lost and people still belong, connect and participate.

It was really encouraging to chat to members of churches about their communities, how to engage with them, the practicalities of that and to reassure of the support that Transforming Communities Together and Linking Lives could bring. We look forward to working with those churches in the near future and are as enthusiastic as they are in supporting people and communities to thrive and flourish.

A huge thank you to Carol Hebden, West Midlands Regional Development Officer, Linking Lives UK, who has added:

"Our joint event with Transforming Communities Together was a wonderful opportunity to explore how churches play a role in addressing loneliness as well as listening to how they have navigated the pandemic to be present with people needing help. We are hopeful that together we can grow possibilities though befriending, that can help address loneliness faced by many in our neighbourhoods, as we move beyond the pandemic."