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Operation Kindness, Wrexham (Sept 2007)

Press Release 09/07

A Wrexham charity has touched the lives of hundreds of people for the better through its multi-cultural and diverse activities.

Charitable organisation Operation Kindness (OK) was set up by members of The Community Church to help all members of the multi-national community improve their quality of life.

Phil Arton, an elder from the Community Church has been a key figure in the charity's work from the beginning. He said: "Operation Kindness is the vision that kindness opens the doors," added Phil, "We run popular children's groups, a playgroup and early learning in the church premises. The Community Church is also an active part of Mission Wrexham which seeks to promote several key projects to support community needs.

These include an asylum seekers refuge which links people from all nationalities into the community, Street Pastors, part of a national scheme to engage with people on the streets to "care, listen and dialogue" and a local centre for Christians against Poverty, a debt counselling and management scheme.

Individuals from the OK team are also part of a scheme to bring environmental health and prosperity.

Phil said: "We are part of a community regeneration group called Caia Park Environmental Group. Caia Park is one of the largest and neediest estates in town."

It works to increase environmental awareness practically and in schools, with recycling projects, window box and crafts sessions, planting schemes, and wormeries. Most schools in Caia Park now have a wormery.

"We also run painting competitions and help schools fundraise for resources."

The group keeps a careful watch on the river which flows through Caia Park for fly tipping, and carries out weekly surveys, liaising with the council over the removal of rubbish.

It also supports "Walking for Health" to encourage families to get active and healthy, as well as putting on family fun days.

One of OK's earliest projects was called Dial a Friend and was formed with support from other churches in the area to provide a listening ear and friendship. The calls were followed up with visits to the individual and inviting them to be part of a friendship group.

Phil said: "It went one stage further than most other help lines, by actually becoming involved in that person's life."

About 100 people who called the helpline were visited and of those, around 25 people joined the "self help" style groups. Around 250 people have been given help and support from volunteers over the phone through Dial a Friend.

OK was set up by Community Church Wrexham with the support of other denominations and local churches, to work within and for the local community.

"Our goal was not just to listen but to provide more practical service," added Phil.

"We got a good reputation and received referrals from social services, who wanted us to give clients social interaction opportunities." said Phil "We worked with volunteers from the church and community and received our training from other help lines in the town."

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