Whether it’s a replacement cooker, school uniform, or a bike to get to work, the charity Acts 435 (set up by the Archbishop of York) allows people to give money directly to others for specific requests - and the charity is asking more churches across the Diocese of Leeds to get involved.
Christ Church, Upper Armley in Leeds is one of the first to do so in the Leeds Episcopal Area and the experience has been so positive, they are encouraging other churches to do the same.
Based on Acts Chapter 4 verse 35, where the early community ensured that no-one was in need; Acts 435 connects people who want to help with people in need of something specific to ease their burden or help in a crisis.
Vicar of Christ Church, the Revd Canon Arani Sen (picture below), says, “Acts 435 is an excellent mission tool, to live out the teaching of Acts. It has enabled the church to raise its profile in the community and to demonstrate Jesus’ love in action”.
The church appoints Advocates who listen out for needs in the church and local community, and they then meet the person who has the need and the request is listed on the Acts 435 website. Donors choose requests which touch them and, bit by bit, or sometimes all at once, the money comes in (98% of requests posted to date have been met).
The maximum that a person can ask for an item is £120 and £100 for bills. It is all anonymous – the Advocate is the only person who knows who is in need and they can see if the need has been fulfilled and pass on the gift.
Jo Brophy, Advocate at Christ Church, says: “I love this role! It's very rewarding, giving practical help to people when they need it the most. We have now helped five people from different backgrounds with very different needs.
"One was a single dad with three children who'd been made redundant and was desperately in need of a carpet. I was told about the family when I went into the church school to tell them about Acts 435. This need was met and people from the church also gave food donations.”
Arani Sen adds, “Christ Church is in a socially and culturally diverse context of high deprivation, and we are also the home of Meeting Point, a project for refugees and asylum seekers. So people in the parish often don't have money for basic things such as white goods, school uniform, bills and buying food. It is an area where loan sharks operate and people can get into debt easily which, as Christians, we want to discourage”.
We have Advocates in churches across the diocese including St Peter's and St John's, Barnsley; St Giles's, Pontefract, the Castleford Team Parish, Christians Against Poverty in Wakefield and in Bradford; Christians Together in Calderdale, Christians Together in Cleckheaton, All Saints and St Oswald's, Horton in Bradford; St Stephen's, West Bowling.