|The Church and European Funding|
Objective 1, 2 and 3: Navigating the Funding Maze
May 11th (Rhyl) 18th (Swansea) 25th (Cardiff) 2001
Under the current political climate, government leaders are increasingly looking to involve voluntary groups, including churches and Christian charities, in welfare provision. (The various issues surrounding 'faith-based welfare' were explored in the previous issue of idea magazine.) Gweini is the first body in the UK to be created specifically to address the political and economic possibilities of faith-based welfare.
The conferences were held at Sussex Street Baptist Church, Rhyl, Cornerstone Church, Swansea and Thornhill Church, Cardiff. The conferences were attended by leaders representing a wide variety of denominations, including charismatic, Pentecostal, Anglican, Salvationist and United Reformed churches, as well as para-church organisations. Some had projects up and running, some were in the process of setting up projects, and others had realised the need but were not sure how to get started.
Julian Richards, whose own church project is considered a successful model of faith-based welfare, led the Gweini conferences alongside Daniel Boucher, Assembly liaison officer for the Evangelical Alliance Wales. Richards says: 'The mood was very positive. People are encouraged by the possibilities of faith-based welfare, and there is a genuine interest in working through the implications. There was a sense that we were responding to and serving the felt needs of church leaders in Wales at this key time.'
Gweini is now evaluating how these meetings went as it plans its next series of follow-on conferences. Based on the response of those attending, Richards says there is a need to educate churches wanting to get involved in social and community work, about how they can go about it in practical ways. There is also a challenge for the Christian community to explore using more business and entrepreneurial skills in their practices, he adds.