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In the Church we have a long and proud tradition of volunteering and of volunteers taking the lead in setting up groups in their local communities to help those who are vulnerable and in great need.

Caritas Archdiocese of Birmingham, as part of its mission to support this work and to share good practice, has invited four different groups from around the Archdiocese that are all volunteer led to share their experience with others.

They are focussing on four areas of need – destitute asylum seekers and refugees; support of the bereaved, supporting isolated older people; supporting people with dementia and their carers.

There is certainly need in our parish to consider how we respond to the needs of these groups of people. Perhaps the most important needs in Boldmere are the last three – support of the bereaved, isolated older people and those effected by dementia.
We have a large number of care homes, and sheltered housing schemes in the parish. Many of those living there – Catholics and others – are isolated from the wider community. There is surely an opportunity to better share the love of God with them, breaking down any walls of loneliness.

There are many people too who are bereaved and would benefit from some support in helping them to better deal with their grief.

Our parish already offers some support, and it is much appreciated but the need is greater still. Please consider whether you would like to learn more about the need. Experience shows that we learn best and most from listening and talking to those who face similar challenges and joys to the ones we face when we try to respond to the invite of Christ to serve our neighbour.

Being informed does not necessarily mean that you will wish to do more than keep those in need in your prayer, but that alone can be of great benefit. On the other hand you may be moved to volunteer your time and energy -and that too will be of value to those in need.
To learn more you are invited to an event which will be focusing on groups that are led by volunteers, serving those in great need, including the elderly, carers of those who have dementia, those who are bereaved, those who are isolated (sometimes with mental health issues), and asylum seekers and refugees. If you would like to know how these groups started and the challenges and joys of running them, talking to and listening to the volunteers themselves, in an informal setting at St Thomas More’s, 130 Horse Shoes Lane, Sheldon, B26 3HU on Saturday 2nd July 2016, 10 am – 1.00 pm please ring Bev Smith (01675) 434005 or email admin@caritas-aob.org.uk to book a place. Please also let me know. It may be possible to coordinate lifts etc!

The four groups who will be sharing their experience are

  • The Solihull Welcome – where volunteers offer hospitality and support to destitute asylum seekers and refugees.
  • A new Bereavement support group – working ecumenically, and with local funeral undertakers and a local hospice, this group based in a Church centre offer support to those recently bereaved.
  • Tuesday Club in the parish of St Anthony’s, Kingshurst– started by local parishioners and running for some time this group of volunteers provide a much needed service that supports isolated older people.
  • St Mary’s Dementia Group, Harborne – a group of local volunteers helping dementia sufferers and carers.

I do hope you will give careful thought as to whether you will be able to come and join me at this meeting, this valuable opportunity to help us strengthen our parish’s response to brothers and sisters in need.

Fr Allen

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