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Church Action Networks

Sandwell Churches Link supports the ongoing work developing the Church Action Networks (CAN) and has observed the positive impact this network has had on the collaboration between churches and communities in Smethwick and the enhanced sustainability and stronger neighbourhood involvement

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We believe there can be a "CAN" in every town in Sandwell

No town in England can claim that there are no needs that Churches and Communities may want to address. Towns across Sandwell are no different – statistics show that there are areas of extensive need in terms of employment, health, purpose and wellbeing. If working together and pooling ideas, resources and volunteers meant the Church could address some of these needs, what could this look like?

What would a Church Action Network in your town look like?

Perhaps there’s already a network of sorts that could form the basis of a Church Action Network or perhaps there are existing projects that would benefit from a ‘together-ness’ approach?
In order to create a network of churches that took action to address the needs of others, a few key underlying values had to be shared by those involved, including:

    • Recognizing that Churches and communities want to be active in solving the problems around us, through actions as well as prayers. ·
    • Creating a space to listen to one another and identify the shared needs across an area – in the case of Smethwick CAN, the need for emergency food was identified by more than one church which created the momentum to act
    • Willingness to relinquish ownership in favour of a ‘together-ness’ and acceptance of other approaches for the sake of those in need.

Once there is a committed group who can agree on these values meeting regularly to pray together, identifying which need should be addressed is the next step. This could be through a consultancy process, asking local service providers where the gaps are, or simply sharing the needs already identified. Asking what resources (space, people, etc.) are already available is a great way to start.

The first steps may be small steps, one simple project and perhaps regular prayer together.

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Smethwick Church Action Network

Smethwick CAN is an action network of local churches formed to work with the community to tackle poverty, increase aspiration, provide opportunity and support the most vulnerable. Smethwick CAN works with local communities to provide a wide range of services through local churches and community groups including places of welcome to build community; supporting people towards work and social enterprise to increase aspiration; and provide crisis relief to support the most vulnerable. Smethwick CAN currently operates a Food Bank, a Food Pantry, a Community Café, a Community Bakery, a Community Allotment and a number of smaller projects which tackle homelessness and other areas of local social need.

The short videos below shows how local church buildings can be transformed to support the community it serves and benefit everyone within it.