Setting up social action projects in areas of need or to encourage an interest in Catholic Social Teaching, lies at the heart of Caritas's work in the diocese. Here are the projects that have already been set up.
The Caritas InSight project
The Caritas InSight project has been setup as a drop-in where those experiencing loneliness or isolation, perhaps recovering from illness or those who just want to make contact with other people can come along and join in some activities before sharing in a common healthy lunch. It takes place every Tuesday in the Portsmouth Cathedral Discovery Centre and all are welcome.
Portsmouth North End
The Caritas MenzShed is run together with the North End Baptist Church, PowerscourtRoad, North End, Portsmouth. We are presently using the shed to restore tools to send to Africa, so if you are interested in doing a bit of DIY or just want to talk to come along for coffee and a chat, you are welcome at 2:30pm every Tuesday at the North End Baptist Church.
Toddler/Parent groups provide great play opportunities for toddlers as well as a great place for mums to become friends with other mums. Caritas supports a Toddler/Parent group run by volunteers in the Holy Family Church in Southampton and offer a warm welcome to any toddlers and their parents who would like to join us each Friday morning.
We are all aware of the present refugee crisis, one of the greatest tragedies of the present unfolding daily. Well what is the diocese and Caritas doing to help? We are delighted to say that we are actively involved in housing refugee families under the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship scheme. Caritas is looking for parishes to form a group of about 25 people who would sponsor and house a refugee family in their area. So if you want to not just be an observer but a participant in helping refugee families get in touch with Caritas who will get you up to speed asap.
We all know the difficulty of learning other languages, a problem much experienced by immigrants who have just moved to the UK. With limited English ability immigrants, in addition to difficulty with life integration and interaction with locals, may also not be able to access benefits that they are entitled to or be able to find work. To help with this Caritas supports an English literacy project in the English Martyr’s parish in Reading. Fully run by volunteers, some of whom are professional teachers, all who are experiencing problems with English are welcome.
Each year, usually in the last week of the summer school holiday, Caritas runs a Holiday Club in the Holy Family Church in Southampton. This is a great way for mums to have a break during the long summer holiday while also offering an action packed week of activities for children who might otherwise not have a holiday. Everyone is welcome and Caritas would be willing to setup a repeat Holiday Club project in other other parishes. In 2018 we will have the them of creation which will be a fun filled week of activities on the theme of the Earth, Sky, Water and Animals. We will be building model planes, boats, shelters and also a trip to a local Adventure Park.
The rising numbers of homeless on our streets is a highly visible heartbreaking problem. In responding to providing a temporary shelter for homeless during the winter period, Churches in Southsea came together to open their church halls for homeless accommodation. Caritas was happy to support the St. Swithuns Church in Southsea as part of this project during the 2017/2018 winter period. The project was a great success and will be repeated during the 2018/2019 winter. This is an ideal project for areas with Churches Together groups to open their doors to rough sleepers during the harsh winter weather.
The lack of overnight shelters in the Windsor area has prompted churches to come together to offer their church halls as temporary accommodation during the winter period. Caritas is the overall organiser of this project which is run as a multi-church project. Carrying the name "More than a Shelter", as the name suggests the project will not just be a bed for the night but will also offer a hot dinner and breakfast along with friendship and hospitality. The involvement by the local authority has also resulted in several of our rough sleeping guests being re-housed in proper accommodation.
Young Asylum Seekers
Caritas runs a small education project for some young asylum seekers that are resident in the Portsmouth area. These young men, from countries such as the Sudan and Iraq are under the care of the local authority but need extra help with education in areas such as English and Mathematics. This project is run in conjunction with the Red Cross and has several volunteer teachers from local schools who help out.
On Sunday afternoons in St. Swithuns church, Southsea, Caritas has a lunch for any local rough sleepers. The idea emerged from our Open Church Night Shelter in response to providing some kind of daytime service to rough sleepers. We can see up to 40 people coming along for a healthy 3-course meal on Sundays, but not just for lunch but that all important human interaction. that the project supplies.
Caritas has set up a project in the St. Bernard's church hall which is located near the Fawley oil terminal in Southampton, to offer a place of rest and recreation for visiting seafarers. Here seafarers can have free access to high speed internet, free snacks and refreshments, access to games, limited money exchange, purchase SIM cards, etc. Most of all a friendly welcome from our volunteers and an open church for those who would like to visit awaits all who come along.
We are always looking for donations of suitable clothes in good condition, hats, gloves, scarves, shirts, jackets etc as well as religious items such as rosaries, books, leaflets, medals etc. If you have any such items and would like to donate them to seafarers please get in touch with Caritas.
Caritas Coffee Companions
Social isolation is an increasing problem in a society that is supposed to be increasingly connected. Caritas has linked up with a charity called Coffee Companions to reach out to those who might be feeling a bit isolated and would just like to talk to someone. Everyone has something to share and is it not in those encounters with others, often over a cup of tea or coffee that we feel a sense of self worth and esteem? However as it can be difficult to make that first step, a fear of intruding, using your Caritas Chat Mat is an easy way to gently show others you would like a chat or to be left alone with your thoughts. So come on, take up the Caritas invitation and get down to your local coffee shop for some engaging conversation. This is one of newer projects so we will be publishing which cafes will be participating in the near future. For more information see: www.coffeecompanions.co.uk/caritas
Caritas Discussion Club
Once a month a group meets under the name of Caritas Discussion Club to talk about some present day social action issue. This could discussions on the environment, the situation of seafarers, refugees, homelessness and many more. For some discussions an external speaker is invited, however for most the group will discuss the issue among themselves. It has proven to be a great way of bringing people together and also to increase awareness of issues of injustice all around, often those issues which would so often go unnoticed. Such a group could be started almost anywhere and is great as a parish project so get in touch if you are interested to start a Caritas Discussion Club.