God's Agent for Transformation
Speaking at a service of Celebration for 50 Years of Charity Work with Older People at Sheffield Cathedral in October 2017, the Archbishop reflected on a parable about what Jesus of Nazareth told the lawyer, in Luke Chapter 10. 'This is not a case of a singular goodness but of never-ending neighbourly love. If our neighbours’ needs are to be met, we must meet them because we are God’s agents of transformation, and he depends upon us to do his work.'
SCCCC was set up in October 1966 by church members of all denominations from across Sheffield, but has today expanded to support older people of different faiths and secular groups from across the city. It thrives on its strong community links and works alongside the council, NHS and all church denominations to achieve its mission of improving the wellbeing of older people in Sheffield.
The Archbishop of York said:
“The Celebration Service offers a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with all those who work and volunteer with SCCCC, in their own words, ‘to provide older people with a helping hand when they need it most’. It is always a pleasure and an encouragement to hear of those that give freely of their time and resources to help others. Anything that helps to prevent loneliness and isolation amongst older people is to be celebrated.
We need to recognise too that injury can be caused by individuals not only doing personal physical violence to one another but also embracing choices which deprive others of the means of financial security, work, housing, education, healthcare, dignity in old age or well-beingArchbishop Sentamu (Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care)
Friendship lunches & social isolation
Of course, stress and heartache many experience in life can be as a result of many different factors not least financial burdens but there are many who suffer with the pain of social isolation: people who are alone, perhaps estranged from their family, or housebound due to illness or disability. Others, such as those seeking asylum may be thousands of miles away from their loved ones.
On my Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, I joined the Friendship Lunches in pubs and in community cafes and to spend time and talk with people who live alone.
Loneliness is a growing social disease. In previous generations, strong local communities where families grew and remained, provided supportive social connections and a sense of belonging. Today, greater social mobility has broken down the traditional community support networks.
In ‘The Spirit Level’, York-based Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson examine the effects of inequality in society, identifying this as an issue affecting people’s emotional wellbeing: ‘Now that so many people move from where they grew up, knowledge of neighbours tends to be superficial or non-existent. People’s sense of identity used to be embedded in the community to which they belonged, but now it is cast adrift in the anonymity of mass society.’