Jon, Taunton Vineyard Church
It is about time we heard from an advocate down in the South-West where we have a wonderful growing group of churches and charities using Acts 435. Jon Carrington is Acts 435 Advocate for Taunton Vineyard Church, currently our only Acts 435 church in Somerset. When he comes to share stories of people helped, I love hearing how a number of different charities alongside the local church have all been able to play a role in together making a significant difference.
Jenny: When did you get involved?
Jon: It was around May 2015
Jenny: How did you hear of Acts 435?
Jon: I was sent an e-mail by one of the local Christians Against Poverty Money coaches before going up for my training to become the local CAP Debt Centre Manager and then saw Acts 435 in some of the notes we were given on training and started to look into the charity more and find out how it all worked.
Jenny: How do you use it in your setting?
Jon: Itâ€™s mainly used for my Debt Centre clients to help with raising money for their insolvency fees or clothes. However as a church we are stepping out into more and more compassion ministries which Acts 435 compliments so well.
Jenny: How does it impact your church/charity?
Jon: It allows us to be able to offer more help to people than we may have been able to if we didnâ€™t partner with Acts 435. Iâ€™ve lost count of the number of clients that I see who are trying to live on basic benefits that have built up arrears on some of their bills, most of the time through no fault of their own and to prove they canâ€™t pay them back they need to pay £90 for a Debt Relief Order which would probably take forever to save. As a church on our own we would be able to help those people maybe a few times before we started to feel the pinch and may need to stop, but with Acts 435 and your generous donors we donâ€™t have to hesitate in offering help with those fees.
Jenny: What has been your experience of being an advocate?
Jon: Itâ€™s so easy to do, the computer system is really simple and itâ€™s just a joy to be able to bring hope into desperate situations.
Jenny: What stories can you share of people youâ€™ve helped through Acts 435?
Jon: The first that springs to mind is a lady called Katie that I met just before Christmas 2015, she was struggling with bills and debts, she was very overweight and had serious health problems which meant she struggled to walk any distance. Katie had been an addict but had got clean and was trying to get her life back together. When I met her she had hardly any food in her flat and the clothes she wore were all she had. We arranged for some food for her from the foodbank and made up a Christmas hamper to bless her with, but due to her size getting clothes was harder to organise as local charity shops couldnâ€™t help and other local charity clothes stores didnâ€™t have anything big enough. We managed to raise some money through Acts 435 and brought several new items alongside essentials like underwear which sheâ€™d not had for ages and she was blown away by the generosity she received. We got her connected to a local church who were able to support her and she started going to their cafï¿½ a couple of times a week. Near to the end of last year Katie died, she had been estranged from her family because of her addiction but talking to some of them at the funeral they were so grateful for the care she was shown at the end of her life.
We also had another person Martin who was left with hardly any furniture and no carpet after his ex-partner cleared out his flat when they separated. We managed to get help with replacement furniture from the local Citizen's Advice Bureau and Besom project so he had a place to sit and fridge etc. however neither could help with the carpet. We managed to raise some money so Martin could buy some carpet which he was then able to fit himself.
Jenny: What would you say to people considering becoming advocates?
Jon: Do it, donâ€™t hesitate just do it
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