Since 2008, Network Four has been giving hope and transforming lives of the vulnerable in Birmingham. Since the charity was created by Gary Wicker, a respected Birmingham Christian, the plight of the vulnerable in Birmingham has developed Network Four into a trusted charity for the city. Birmingham Pastors, a recent project from the charity has a clear mission to see the lives restored of the least, lost and last in Birmingham city centre.
Mayor of Birmingham, Andy Street has spoken on the remarkable rise of homelessness in the city, with there being a 154% increase in 12 months. West Midlands Police approached Network Four recognising a profound need for Birmingham’s vulnerable to be supported in the day time, as well as the evening. Birmingham Pastors was born to fulfil this need.
Birmingham Pastors has a vision to mobilise the church community to be trained and equipped to support the vulnerable. This will work on two levels. On one, Outreach Pastors engage directly with people they encounter on the streets and on the second level, Casework Pastors construct a realistic plan for helping them move forward with issues like accommodation, lifestyle, health and employment in partnership with other agencies.
A vulnerable individual in the city can be cited as a person sleeping rough, homeless, drug or alcohol dependant, offenders, asylum seekers, domestic violence victims, sex workers, increasing numbers of children involved in sexual exploitation, drug crime, gun crime, knife crime and those not attending school. A team of volunteers within Birmingham Pastors will give the project ability to engage a target number of 200 vulnerable people in the city over the next 12 months.
Government cuts mean that front line services have been impacted in Birmingham, leading to pressurised and stretched police and paramedic services. These services are struggling to meet the needs of the vulnerable in the city. The request came from the services so that the faith sector can step up and step in to reach those in need. Birmingham Pastors provides a true platform to bring Christ alive in the city. Gary Wicker, Project Director says
“I can’t remember a time when it more important to demonstrate the love of Christ. Volunteers are given a tremendous opportunity to show what it is to be a Christian here. We want to reach people in Birmingham and show them that they can turn life around and crucially, we help do that.”
The volunteer opening with Birmingham Pastors gives the community ability to love the least, lost and the last. So, what does it mean to volunteer with Birmingham Pastors?
Birmingham Pastors invests strongly to support volunteers in engaging with the vulnerable. Volunteers are trained with West Midlands Ambulance Service in negotiating challenging environments, how to positively interact to alleviate a negative situation, self-harm and suicide. Birmingham Pastors work with West Midlands Police to provide training in criminal justice and drug awareness. The project has partnered with Birmingham City University to give students skills to be better equipped for employability. Volunteers need to be over 17 years old and be happy to give 1 shift per month, a shift being 10am – 2pm.
Recently through a Facebook Live stream, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would assign a homelessness “tsar”, to create a national plan to tackle homelessness. This comes following statistics released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government detailing that a household in England became homeless every four minutes last year (April 2018 to March 2019) with great prevalence in Birmingham city centre. Until the government plan manifests, it is crucial that Birmingham Pastors steps in and compassionately tackles what is happening in the city.
Birmingham Pastors is a clear way to bring Christ alive in Birmingham. Volunteers can be students, retired citizens or anyone who has a heart to work with the vulnerable and see lives transformed in Birmingham.
Gary Wicker said the goals of Birmingham Pastors are twofold. One is as a positive faith-based project that tackles homelessness, poverty and vulnerability across the city. The second goal is to create a constructive faith-based interaction with public sector.
Birmingham Pastors gives people a chance to get involved in Christ’s work through discovery, giving and prayer in the city. We’d love to hear from you if you’re a church leader or that you’d like to become involved as a volunteer, please contact us at email@example.com.