A problem I face when organising volunteers (especially students) is getting in touch with them. The rate at which new generations change their medium of contact keeps getting faster. My grandparents use the telephone, my parents use e-mail, I use Facebook and younger people use one of the new mobile social networks. As time moves on every generation slowly moves down a step (my mum is now on Facebook more than I am). For me, this is a logistical nightmare. The lack of contact between these different means of communication make each generation exist on completely different plains of existence (an overstatement?).
The best way for these different groups to stay in contact is through the old fashioned way of meeting and seeing each other in person. A common goal and purpose also make it far easier for these groups to come together. That is why local community projects, such as our foodbank, are so good at bringing people together. As society seems to get more disconnected, it is important that we double our efforts to hold communities together.
Charities such as ourselves need only be one part of this. The Chaplaincy we are based in is at its essence just a meeting place where people run into each other without planning to. What I find so amazing about our Chaplaincy is the mixture of different generations with each other throughout the year. The Holy Name church is made up mostly of Students but there is still a sizable amount of older locals who regularly come to Mass. They are also welcomed into the Chaplaincy with the same friendly atmosphere given to new students. What makes us comfortable with each other is the knowledge we hold common values.
These common values, from my experience, extend far beyond religious affiliation. Everyone I meet in Manchester have the same values of compassion and goodwill to others. The problem with today's world is that people seem to forget this fact. Pro-active projects like the foodbank will, I hope, have the knock-on effect of encouraging everyone to realise we all have more in common than we thought.
As we are setting up our Foodbank it is clear what a great potential there is for building up Civic Society. Different institutions, religious and secular, can become involved in either as food-collection areas, or as referral agencies. The Trussel Trust who we are registered with, run the largest network of foodbanks in the UK are a Christian Charity but realise that 'food poverty' is not limited to one religion or another, and similarly that it is working with different faith groups tha provides the best and most trusted network.
Their vision is based on words of Jesus as recorded the Gospel of Matthew. 'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25:35-36. This comes from a vision of a last judgement, when we will all be accountable for our actions, particularly to those who are most vulnerable and needy. We show our love through actions more than words..... So get involved, we need 1) prayers 2) volunteers and 3) money. Contact us through this blog - or privately through @foodbank_muscc.
Fr T B SJ