What does the Rector do?
Here’s the fourth in my short series of blogs offering a few reflections on some of the ministry I’ve been involved with during the week. I’m choosing one aspect of each day, today…
4. Listens to pastoral concerns
Today I guided a small listening meeting to hear concerns of young mothers of some of the most vulnerable children of our area. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and the young mums were open and sincere in their sharing. I was so impressed by the love and dedication they put into their families in such adverse situations – some doing it as single parents.
Our meeting was in the Longsight part of our parish. The leafy streets, and some of the large buildings of our area can hide the intense deprivation found locally. Child poverty is very high, and today I heard yet again of the intense housing problems some face in our area. Here is an example:
Mum is a single parent in a two bedroomed small house with five children, aged 10, 9, 8, 5 and 2. Four of the children have special needs, two severe needs. Mum shares a bedroom with one of the children while the other four share the other bedroom. Inevitably the cramped housing brings problems of its own, not least tensions in the family and lack of sleep. The danger is the difficulties spiral. Mum has been persistently trying for well over a year for improved accommodation without any success. Waiting lists are very long.
This is not an isolated example. At the meeting many other examples were shared.
What can be done? The problem is enormous, and cannot by solved by an individual or even one organisation.
Of course I can, and do, share my concerns with housing authorities and local councillors. Any concerned christian will wish to encourage action to help those in need in the community. I will also write to the Bishop of Manchester so that he is informed of concerns. I will pray. These are important actions. I would also at the same time not want to undervalue listening, and encouraging sharing. At the meeting I was filled with admiration for the mothers who work so hard for their children and who, even though some were meeting for the first time, showed care and gave support to one another. Hopefully schools, churches and other bodies can help create such gatherings to be a safe space for mutual support by those attending, and to listen, and in doing so respond to the Holy Spirt of love and care.