10 highlights from our 2019 Social Justice initiatives

Feb 20 2020

On World Day of Social Justice we want to share some of our 2019 achievements and our vision ahead.

ICARE – Our local Social Justice initiatives

1. REFUGEE RESPONSE

Refugee Resettlement

The UNHCR states that 151,000 Syrian refugees are in need of resettlement. Through the Community Sponsorship scheme of the Home Office we aim to play our part in this. In 2019 we were able to welcome our second (Guildford) and third (Newcastle) refugee families to the UK.

“The family was my motivation. So the admin and paperwork for the application were just tools to accomplish the goal: to get the family to the UK.”
– Kathy Pavid

The two sons of the first refugee family we resettled in London are now helping with the resettlement of new families in Oxford and Newcastle, “which is in itself extraordinary” (Pastor Gary Clarke), but in October one of the brothers was even nominated for Newcomer of the Year at the Community Sponsorship Awards by Sponsor Refugee. Many in our teams know him for volunteering in church since his arrival, and for us this nomination is an acknowledgement of his commitment to social justice. One of the most moving moments of the Awards was when he greeted another Syrian refugee in surprise and delight, as they last saw each other in a UN camp in Jordan and are now both living happily in the UK.

At the moment we are working towards the resettlement of another five families in Edinburgh, Greenwich (Hillsong Bermondsey), Kingston (Dominion Service 1), South Norwood (Dominion Service 4) and West Croydon (Hillsong Croydon). We are always looking for committed team members to support the families, including Arabic speakers, English teachers, DIY helping hands, finance and other support. Find out how to get involved on Hillsong.co.uk/resettlement.

Football United

Football United is our weekly football club for young refugees and asylum seekers. Every year the UK receives between 3-4,000 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children who are often not familiar with English language and culture and can feel powerless, overwhelmed and disconnected within their new community. Through FootballUnited we aim to provide a safe and fun space for these young people as they find their feet in the UK, building their football skills, confidence and friendships.

In 2019 over 500 young refugees attended our Football United sessions in Croydon, Tottenham and Lewisham. In November some of them had the opportunity to gain a Level 1 in Coaching Football course, so they can deliver engaging football sessions for other young refugees. In partnership with London FA, Black Prince Trust, Powerleague and Fulham FC Foundation, the course aided personal development in confidence, understanding of English and football culture in the UK, and will help them access employment opportunities. And the best is yet to come as we have just launched a new session in GuildfordTo support or get involved see Hillsong.co.uk/footballunited.

Spheres Workshops

Throughout the year our Refugee Response team organised different workshops for young refugees at the Refugee Council that are fun, interactive and educative. For the first time, one of the sessions was held by Reggie Dabbs as he concluded his Winter Tour 2019 with the Schools Project (see below). Find out more on how you can support or get involved on Hillsong.co.uk/refugeeresponse

Welcome Packs

Thanks to your contributions, last year we were able to send out Welcome Backpacks to about 50 refugee youth who arrived to the UK by themselvesThese packs contain clothing, underwear, toiletries and some stationary supplies to get set up with life here, but most of all it is a gesture of warm welcome to their new country. To contribute to the Welcome Packs go to Hillsong.co.uk/welcomepacks where you can buy items via our dedicated Amazon list.

 

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2. HOMELESS

Greenlight

In 2019 hundreds of visits were made to our Greenlight medical vans. About 75% of homeless people have a physical health problem but few are registered with a GP. That’s where our Greenlight medical vans step in. Throughout the week our two vans provide basic medical care, referrals and information to the homeless on the streets of London and surrounding counties.

Greenlight – Hair for Homeless

Hair for Homeless sees a team of hairdressers go out twice a week and give up to 30 haircuts per session to the homeless on the streets of London, and along with that haircut they receive dignity, value and a fresh look. Vincent, one of our volunteers, says: “I want to make a big impact and what better way to do this than by giving them a rockin’ haircut!”

Get involved

The Greenlight team is entirely made up out of volunteers with a professional medical background plus additional support team who help care for the rough sleeper we meet every day. There is plenty of opportunity to get involved or support this project. We are always looking for more to join our team. We not only need people with a medical background, but also drivers, hairdressers, and care and connect team. For more info please go to Hillsong.co.uk/greenlight.

 

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3. ELDERLY

Through our elderly support projects we aim to be a part of the solution in eradicating isolation and loneliness amongst the elderly. There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK. In partnership with Regenerate-RISE and other elderly centres across our cities, we aim to reach out to the most vulnerable and at risk elderly by developing friendships, and providing support and practical help.

Kings & Queens

Every summer we celebrate and honour the elderly in our community with a lunch party where we treat them like kings and queens. In 2019, 270 pensioners enjoyed being transported to a tropical island in the heart of Roehampton for a Hawaiian style summer party. Hosted by Regenerate-RISE and held at the presence of Wandsworth Mayor Jane Cooper, the event involved a scrumptious lunch, a gift for every guest, music, performances, bingo and lots of fun. Our Catering Team were also awarded with a badge by Mayor Cooper as a thank you for serving.

Get involved

Come and join us and help put a smile on the faces of the elderly in our community. Volunteer by adopting a Granny or Grandad, assisting at the Kings & Queens summer party or simply lending a hand at various elderly centres. To find out more or sign up to volunteer: Hillsong.co.uk/elderly.

 

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4. YOUTH

Amplified Arts Academy

After launching their first original song at Carols 2018, our AMP Collective guys had a great time singing a song they wrote for Mother’s Day. We celebrated 5 years of Amplified with an amazing showcase in July, and in August our AMP family got involved with Be Inspired, a brand new event for care experienced young people in London packed with great speakers, fun and performances. And for the new term, Amplified was reorganised in AMP Classes, open to everybody, and Academy Classes, for those who are committed to grow in the industry. 

Schools Project

It’s been a great year for the Schools Project. During our Spring, Summer and Winter Tours, Reggie Dabbs and team brought a message of hope to over 10,000 young people, have visited 28 new schools, 12 of which were selected by Metropolitan Police, marking the beginning of a great collaboration. It was fun to step into schools where students didn’t care for us to be there, but 45 minutes later there’s a dance party!

The winter tour ended at the Refugee Council, where the young refugees who are part of the community in Croydon received the same inspirational message in English and Arabic.

Care Leavers

Reggie also spoke at the Education Collective to open up the conversation on Care Leavers, who face huge barriers in their lives as they move towards independence. Since last year we have been addressing those barriers by partnering in events for care leavers, like @be_inspired_uk and Christmas Together (see below).

Check out all our initiatives for young people at Hillsong.co.uk/icareyouth

 

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5. CHRISTMAS

Christmas Giving

Our Christmas season was filled with the joy of sharing food and good times with the people in our local communities! Thanks to your generosity we were able to collect hundreds of presents across our campuses and organise plenty of events across the UK to brighten Christmas up for all the people we serve in our city – care leavers, refugees, elderly, homeless and other vulnerable children and adults. Below just some of the things you made possible:

15 December: Our 3:30pm Carols service was enjoyed by 54 residents from Tulse Hill inner city estate. Four of our volunteers who serve there during the year hosted the guests and personally gifted a large part of the tickets.
18 December: Elderly residents and kids from Tulse Hill had fun at two Christmas Parties specially thrown for them. It was heart warming to see their smiles when they opened the gifts you brought to church!
18 December: Another party was thrown at the Refugee Council, where we distributed your gifts to young refugees and Amplified organised a dance workshop.
21 December: Elderly party at Platt Centre, hosted by Regenerate-RISE. Our volunteers painted nails, sang songs, performed, served tea, cake and put on a Christmas quiz. Through Christmas giving they all received an umbrella – they LOVED it.
23 December: 33 hampers generously provided by Basket Brigade were distributed to families in Tulse Hill.
24 December: In Newcastle, in partnership with North East Homeless, we assisted in providing Christmas dinner in the train station for all the homeless people in our city. And a team put gifts by each person sleeping on the street, so that they woke up to a gift on Christmas morning.

Christmas Together

In 2010 a 23-year-old care leaver, Topé, took his own life because he didn’t have a place to go for Christmas. Since then, The Tope Project has been organising events to combat loneliness among care experienced young people, and we were honoured to partner with them for our second Christmas Together event at Hillsong Bermondsey.

Thanks to your Christmas Giving gifts and donations, we were able to prepare a scrumptious Christmas Day dinner for over 100 care experienced young people, followed by movies, games, activities and a bag of gifts personally put together for our guests, so they could experience what a family love filled Christmas is.

 

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BECAUSE WE CAN – Our global Social Justice initiatives

6. A21

Walk for Freedom

Around 1200/1300 people were involved with Walk for Freedom in most our locations. 

“Never underestimate the power in one action and the ripple effect that you could have, far beyond what you can imagine – to people that you may never meet, in a country that you may never visit.”
Katie, A21 South Africa

 

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7. COMPASSION

Sponsorship

In 2019 we as a global church were able to celebrate a total of over 100,000 lives changed through our partnership with Compassion since 2004. Thank you for playing your part and taking up sponsorship for over 1,900 children through Compassion at Colour, Compassion Sunday and Conference this year. Thanks to your generosity children’s futures and families will be impacted forever!

Since the water came

Water can mean life or death. Through our Since The Water Came initiative with Compassion UK we aim to bring clean water to the projects we are involved in through sponsorship. In 2019 we completed our 10th water project in the south of Uganda. Before the completion of this project in Bujubwe, people had to travel up to six kilometres, 75% of Compassion-supported children had coughs and at least five children in this community suffered from typhoid every given month. But through your donations and support to the project, 275 Compassion children and 2,500 people in the community now have access to clean, safe water.

In May 2019 the implementation of our 11th Water Project in Uganda began. Thanks to your generosity, 245 Compassion-sponsored children and 1,750 caregivers, siblings and community members in Mulanda will soon receive a new reliable source of safe water, resulting in less disease, higher school attendance and improved personal hygiene.

To find out more about Compassion, to sponsor a child or donate towards our Since The Water Came project, please visit: Hillsong.com/compassion.

 

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8. VISION RESCUE

Over 8 million children live in one of the 49,000 slums in India. These children are often forgotten and many never enter formal education due to a lack of resources, confidence and support. Vision Rescue was founded in 2004 in response to seeing the needs of Mumbai’s street children. Beginning with a non-formal Education Bus Program, Vision Rescue have since expanded their work to include a pre-primary school, mobile dental and medical units, a program supporting those battling addiction, and skills training for income-generation.

In November, during our yearly Vision Rescue Trip, our team visited various Vision Rescue projects to see first-hand how children from the slums get food, education, vocational training, medical care and sports programmes to end the cycle of generational poverty.

During Vision Rescue Sunday we focused on the incredible work of Vision Rescue and how your partnership can make a difference. Play your part and set up a regular donation via Hillsong.co.uk/visionrescue.

 

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9. PREEMPTIVE LOVE

At Colour 2019, all the women attending received a soap bar made by displaced women in Iraq through our partner Preemptive Love. Jessica Courtney (co-founder Preemptive Love) shared the impact this year’s Colour gift has had on so many lives: “I can’t describe the feeling of seeing families go from living in shacks on the streets to raising their families in homes. They were shocked every time to see the photos of Colour and to see so many women around the world who pray for their families to thrive and not just survive.”

As a church we share in her vision that we should do so much more for those whose lives are disrupted by war: “Not merely helping them endure the present, but empowering them to reclaim their future. We can really make a difference if we partner together. We can all help make the community a better place.”

For more information on how to support Preemptive Love, please visit: Hillsong.co.uk/preemptivelove.

 

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10. WATOTO

We loved having the Watoto Children’s Choir with us in May 2019 at our Bermondsey and Guilford locations. The choir performance left us full of faith after hearing their powerful testimonies of how Jesus, through using Watoto, has changed their lives and futures. This year the Watoto Children’s Choir will be performing at our Hillsong Newcastle and Tonbridge campuses in March and April. To find out more about our partnership with Watoto, please visit: Hillsong.co.uk/watoto.

 

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