The old St Edmunds Fund retains its individual identity and accounting but is now subsumed broadly into Caritas East Anglia and deals with emergency grant applications from families or individuals in need but it also considers support for young people wishing to explore a third world project in their gap years or long vacations.
All applications come from either the parish or professionals working with the individuals who endorse them to the parish priest. Over the past year we have supported essential maintenance for families and individuals facing homelessness or job losses resulting in rent arrears whilst they await the support of statutory agencies.
Other couples have been dealing with the sudden onset of a terminal illness and loss of an income requiring some immediate support whilst they re-order their lives. We have also funded air fares to Italy when the death of a parent abroad left relatives without the money to travel to a funeral and an overnight hotel accommodation plus train fares for a couple from Hungary who became stranded.
We have become very aware that the trimming of statutory budgets have left people in crisis with no recourse to meet immediate needs for food and warmth and that is both unlikely to change and more likely to escalate.
We normally turn these grant requests around within a week. The usual practice is to agree (or not) within 48 hours and the parish is asked to provide the funds to the recipient where there is urgency with reimbursement from the St Edmunds Fund.
Several young people have undertaken to work on projects in Ecuador, Africa and Jamaica. All have been raising money for their air fares and maintenance and parishes have also been supportive, but such ventures normally require raising about £2000 which is often beyond both family and parish means. The Catenians have also offered support for these projects and in the future we will direct young people to such alternative funding streams as well. In a similar vein we have enabled a young woman with no supportive family to kit herself out to enter army training.
Finally we have supported the Diocesan Lourdes pilgrimage and a small number of individuals who were unable to afford the full cost and for whom the pilgrimage was important at this stage in their lives. Each individual application was validated by their parish priest.
The Alive in Faith social outreach stream has made possible two substantial grants of up to £10,000 to enable a parish to carry out a particular social outreach project. Firstly to Haverhill – see the picture story.
The second grant of £10,000 went to Emmaus which has established a centre in Ditchingham to assist ex-offenders and recovering addicts with their rehabilitation and future engagement in the work place.
A smaller grant of £2,500 was made available to a Great Yarmouth night shelter for the homeless during the winter months and another smaller grant supported the Social Justice conference held in Norwich in January at which Bishop Alan was a speaker.
Applications for such substantial grants is robust and can take a couple of months. Applications – which must be endorsed by the parish priest – are normally a one-off. After seed-funding a project, we anticipate that successful projects will become self-supporting.
In the spirit of Pope Francis our actions, and particularly our care for those in need, are our Christian way of living out the gospel in our everyday lives.
Caritas East Anglia team:
Interim Chair: Fr David Bagstaff
Administrator: Val Clark
Development Worker: TBA
Group members: Fr John Warrington, Rev Deacon Tony Felton, Gerald Fox, Stephen Giblin, Peter Godfrey, Christine Knight, Dr David Livesey, Bernard Shaw, Teresa Wiseman
Pictured above is outreach worker Tina, left, with client Michelle, from Reach Community Projects which received a £10,000 grant from Alive in Faith. Read more here.