Hope on the Streets

The Church of England - - ANGLICAN LIFE -

As Church Army’s Hope on the Streets cam­paign con­tin­ues, we find out how a bus project in Ch­ester is help­ing young peo­ple from chaotic back­grounds

For the past seven years, Evan­ge­list, Rob Barker, has been lead­ing the Ch­ester Bus Project, which pro­vides young peo­ple from chaotic home back­grounds with a safe place to en­joy re­fresh­ments, ex­plore faith, re­lax and chat to peo­ple about any dif­fi­cul­ties that are wor­ry­ing them.

With the sup­port of Colin Har­ris and a team of vol­un­teers from the lo­cal churches, the bus project is able to take place on Wed­nes­day evenings in Ellesmere Port and on Fri­day evenings in Padgate War­ring­ton.

Rob said: “Many of the young peo­ple we work with are fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties at home, so the bus pro­vides them with a safe place where they can chat to adults who care for them and have time for them. The vol­un­teers and I are keen to meet peo­ple where they are at and through our con­ver­sa­tions help them en­gage with the Chris­tian faith.

“I also hope that by in­volv­ing vol­un­teers from the lo­cal churches that they too will be equipped to share their faith through words and ac­tion and to reach peo­ple out­side the church.”

The Church Army bus is also used for spe­cial events in the area and most re­cently, Rob and his team drove the bus as part of Ellesmere Port’s Di­a­mond Ju­bilee pa­rade where they were able to pro­vide peo­ple with re­fresh­ments and hot dogs as part of the cel­e­bra­tions.

What the young peo­ple say… Cur­tis, 21, said: “Ellesmere Port is a very bro­ken place with a lot of an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour and lit­tle for young peo­ple to do. I have prob­lems with psy­chosis and don’t come from a Chris­tian back­ground, but the bus has def­i­nitely helped me grow in my walk with God. The team have helped an­swer my ques­tions about faith and are al­ways there to sup­port me. They have also in­spired me to think about be­com­ing a youth worker in the fu­ture. I now re­alise that Je­sus is the way, the truth and the life.”

Larna, a 17-year-old art stu­dent who vis­its the bus reg­u­larly, said: “I used to spend a lot of time hang­ing around the park as there was noth­ing else to do, but one day I was walking along and saw the bus. Since then I’ve been coming along reg­u­larly and chat­ting with Rob and chill­ing out with my friends. The bus is def­i­nitely some­thing that we’re lucky to have.”

Ja­son, 22, said: “I have been coming along to the bus for about four-and-a-half years af­ter see­ing it in the car park and recog­nis­ing some of the vol­un­teers from a lo­cal church. At that point in my life I had been try­ing to get to know more about Chris­tian­ity and I was about to give up on my faith. But the bus project has helped me to un­der­stand more about God and what it means to be a com­mu­nity. Ellesmere Port is a place where many young peo­ple feel trapped and just want to leave the area. There are also a lot of prob­lems with drugs and al­co­hol. So the bus project has been the best thing that could have hap­pened to me.”

To watch a film about Hope on the Streets, please visit, www.chur­charmy.org.uk/hope­on­thestreets

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