St Michael & All Angels, Marden, Kent

Sharing God's Love

Charity of the Month

Each month Marden Parish Church likes to support a different charitable cause. This is promoted in the Magazine, and also there is a presentation during the 10.30 service on the first Sunday of each month. We thank all those who have generously supported these good causes, and include a list of those that will be supported through this coming year. 

January - Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter
February - Shelter Box
March - Embrace the Middle East 
April - Hospice in the Weald
May - Christian Aid
June - Alzheimer’s Society
July - Fegans 
August - Christians Against Poverty
September - Marie Curie
October - Friends of the Earth
November - Five Talents
December - The Children’s Society

The Charity for the month of November is Five Talents

Five Talents is a Christian Charity, founded at the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops as a practical means of empowering the poor in developing countries through microfinance , which gives communities a means to lift themselves out of poverty.

Five Talents works in nine developing countries – Burundi, Bolivia, DR Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, working closely with local Churches often in conjunction with Mothers’ Union, helping both women and men to identify, develop and use their God-given talents for good.

For anyone living in the western world the role of microfinance can be difficult to understand. It’s tough to imagine what life would be like without access to even the most basic financial services.

When the Five Talents team introduces supporters to microfinance they ask them to imagine starting a small business without access to a bank or to imagine trying to plan for your children’s future without a savings account.

For the two billion people who can’t use formal financial services, these situations are a reality.

All Five Talents programmes seek to serve the small, poorer, riskier communities and live out the Gospel imperative to help the needy by empowering them to develop their own businesses through community savings, literacy, financial literacy and business skills training.

These businesses provide jobs in the communities, all started with small loans that go a long way in a developing country. Microfinance also has a huge impact on gender relations. Women are empowered to make decisions about how to save and invest their incomes and earn money for themselves which increases their decision-making power in their households and communities. Many have suffered domestic abuse but through the programme, thankfully, husbands have grown to respect their wives once the women earned an income from their small businesses.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, has not had an easy birth. Its peoples have suffered decades of conflict and all the ravages – bereavement, violence, hunger, disease, trauma, lack of education, that go with war.

Around 4 million people (35% of the population) have lost their homes and land.

Literacy rates are incredibly low – just 7% of girls enrol at secondary school and there are almost no banks outside the capital city. Only 5% of women have a bank account.

That’s where Five Talents comes in, working in three states in NW Sudan, their literacy programme, Savings Groups and business skills training help women and men survive and even thrive after they have lost everything.

In the words of Five Talents CEO Rachel Lindley:

‘2020 has been a very challenging year and we feel more than ever called to do all we can to help families save and set up businesses so they can feed and educate their children, keep a roof over their heads and afford medicine when they are sick, especially as coronovirus continues to spread in the countries where we work.

We’ve all been reminded in the last few months just how important community, resilience and hope are. As ever we could learn a huge amount from Five Talents’ members, one of whom told me recently; ‘ Savings Groups are a symbol of hope. When we save money, it shows we believe in tomorrow.’

Please help people in developing countries to believe in tomorrow.

If you wish to make a donation to Five Talents, please do so through Jane Lowther, Church Treasurer either by cheque made payable to Marden PCC or by Bank Transfer to the Church Account.

Jenny Smith

The Charity for the month of December is the Children's Society

I would like to start by considering the background and origins of The Children’s Society. It was founded in 1881 by a Sunday School teacher called Edward Rudolph. When two of his pupils did not turn up, he found them begging on the streets, their father had died and they had to fend for themselves. From this, he was moved to draw together members of the local community to establish how they could offer support to those children who were in poverty. 

Their current campaign is called Strengthening the Safety Net and is focussed on the provision of Emergency Welfare Assistance. We know that for children and young people financial crisis in the home can affect their wellbeing. A crisis can occur for all sorts of reasons. It might be because of a disaster – like a house fire – or because of an illness, domestic violence, a bereavement, or redundancy. Others might need help to set up their homes if they are leaving care, have recently left prison, or have had to suddenly move to a new area. 

Since 2010, the amount spent on this sort of support has dropped by 88% (GMPA, 2019), and over 20 local authorities have stopped providing this support altogether as budgets continue to be cut. Many more are operating greatly reduced services, offering less and less support to those in need. There are some great examples out there of councils doing more to ensure people have access to the essentials they need, but these are the exceptions, not the norm. As local authorities have retreated, charities, churches and other local community groups have stepped in to plug the gaps and ensure that people in desperate situations have at least some food to eat. However, these local organisations may have very limited means and long waiting lists. Research by the Trusell Trust highlights that single parents are the most frequent users of foodbanks, but often children and young people are invisible in this. Services are not designed with them in mind, and rarely do child-related costs factor as things that people can get emergency support for. Caught up in this patchy provision are the families and young people in a crisis with nowhere to turn. Without accurate information or advice, and surrounded by inflexible systems and requirements, it’s unsurprising that many find themselves opting for high-cost credit like payday loan lenders – often with catastrophic consequences. This is why The Children’s Society is calling for change, to strengthen the system we have in place that was intended to ensure no child is left cold or hungry. We need the Government to ensure that local authorities have the resources they need to ensure crisis support remains available. Councils need to make sure that support is accessible to families and young people, and provision is well-coordinated across different providers. Kent County Council operates a Local Welfare Assistance Scheme. 

Please help the Children’s Society to have the funds to assist where local authorities have reduced their support. 

Graham Codling, Churchwarden 832622