2020: A Year Like No Other

At Acts 435's Head Office we love our statistics!! Every week we send reports to the trustees on how many requests are posted, by how many advocates, how many were new and then how much was given and how many new donors gave. Then monthly we produce an array of graphs monitoring the speed requests are met and how long it takes for beneficiaries get the item they so desperately need, as well as total donations, how much is Gift Aided and plenty more!

Back in November 2019 one of our trustees raised the fact that our level of activity (both in requests posted and in donations given) had stagnated, sitting at almost the same level as November 2018. Well, the same could certainly not be said of November 2020!

In November 2018 we helped 372 people and received £37,665.

In November 2019 we helped 369 people and received £37,040.

Yet in November 2020 we helped 614 and received an incredible £67,585.

For Acts 435, 2020 has literally brought a doubling of activity. We feel humbled by the incredible giving we have witnessed and delighted to be able to resource churches and local charities around the country at this tremendously difficult time to do more for people in their local communities.

In April 2020 we had planned a special service of thanksgiving to mark 10 years of Acts 435 before our patron, Dr John Sentamu, stepped down as Archbishop of York. We even had a lovely commemorative booklet made for the occasion and hoped to reengage some key partners. Sadly that event could not go ahead but because of the circumstances we all faced, we had lots of other opportunities to reengage with key partners and expand our network of partner churches and charities.

Our doubling of activity has been both due to new advocates partnering with us and new donors supporting the needs, but also our current network of advocates and donors going over and above and doing even more to support people struggling financially at this time. We are so grateful to each and every one of them.

We also want to pay tribute to two of our advocates who in 2020 lost their lives to Covid-19. Mark Barnett, an advocate for Selby Foodbank, and Aileen Garden, an advocate at Holy Trinity Church in Tulse Hill, London. Both were huge fans of Acts 435. Both gave energy and commitment to supporting people in poverty. Both are fondly remembered and sadly missed.

Another feature of 2020 was being the recipient of a generous donation from Stewardship's Rapid Response Fund which was set up as a specific response to Covid-19. We used this donation to give Larger Gifts to people known to our advocates to be in particularly difficult situations, helping 63 different people including one man who had already suffered two family tragedies in early 2020 and then had to cease trading as the Covid 19 pandemic took such a toll on his business and a refugee family who desperately needed to move from their damp house especially as the wife had breast cancer, and a compromised immune system. We were so grateful for the opportunity to administer these gifts and help some of the most vulnerable in our nation at this time.

We look forward to 2021 with anticipation at what God will do. We have expanded our small Head Office team from 4 part-time staff to 5 so that we can focus on developing new partnerships and growing our network of churches and charities even further. We are so thankful for our faithful donors who continue to meet all the needs, so much so that we ended up with all live requests met on New Year's Day. A clean slate ready as our advocates continue to reach out to some of the most vulnerable people in our society and step in to make a real difference. It's not just about that washing machine or heating oil - it's the impact such kindness from a stranger is making in the lives of individual people in our nation at this time.

Thank you all and a very Happy New Year!