A Friend encouraged to post online the text from my opening speech of the Hope Centre – so here it is with a few edits thrown in for good measure
The Third sector is peculiar in many ways and for years has been separate and distinct to say the private sector or government run organisations.
Traditionally, and particularly within the Faith communities they have struggled to find funding, to work to sustain themselves and to adapt to the modern world of greater governance and legislation.
Yet despite these restrictions many do survive and thrive - often on goodwill and certainly on the generosity of volunteerism which is the backbone of any charitable group.
In terms of where strength comes from and the distinctive contribution that Faith groups bring to communities one has to look firstly at their sense of permanence. They can be trusted because of their longevity. They are not here today and gone tomorrow - they are just here. Like them or loath them - Faith communities in their ever evolving form brings a sense of history, tradition and permanence to a world which in so many of its ways can appear fleeting.
That's why they are a good bet with your money. They come; they stay; they adapt and they work -hard, often really hard because their back bone in volunteering comes not out of necessity but out of willingness.
So Why the Hope Centre?
We carried the vision for the Hope Centre for many years - it's negotiations were complex and long. But what vision offers is the ability to see - and sight is the principle need for any person or organisation that wants to build something. You can't build what you can't see because vision of what can be is the driver that moves you beyond frustration and disappointment.
But all of this comes at a cost. As I recall explaining to a group of my peers sometime back. I said simply, a project that carries the prospect of legacy and the opportunity of transformation will:
So in return for such an investment the Hope Centre would need to:
The Role of the Church
Over time the church has recognized its need to engage - not to simply speak to a community, but rather to embed itself within it. We follow the Christ who comes to us - why ever would we expect his church to be any different?
We have to change and grow and embrace not only the community but also the partners within it. Social cohesion is not built through isolation but rather partnership where we embrace our common strength and offer that to see community transformation.
For our part we offer a Centre that has been shaped around the footprint of what originally stood here. We have shaped it not only to our own desire but also in response to community feedback through extensive research and consultation. What we offer is not simply the best of our own ideas but a response to people’s opinions which we sought to carry forward in the process of development.
The Hope Centre is part of our contribution to the challenges of the modern world - tired buildings given to vandalism and decay restored to say this is what it can look like - what it should look like.
Gone are the days when buildings were built with single purpose focus. What we need are community hubs; Centres that bring people together throughout the week - cross generationally to break isolation and a lack of aspiration.
The Values of the Hope Centre help to state what we feel this place should represent:
Ultimately, people should feel better about themselves - and other people for being here. They should go away feeling that the Centre they just left thought sufficiently highly of them that they created an environment that gives them permission to think that way too.
One might say that today marks the beginning of that journey - one of which we are delighted that you have been able to share in and be part of.