Lubbesthorpe Project, Leicestershire
Pioneer Community Worker
'We’re out there at the very beginning seeking to build something that is of God’
Invested in a Transformational Index (TI), a tool that helps organisations identify their intended social impact and measure progress
On the edge of Leicester, a new town is being born. Over the next 15 years 4000 houses with schools, shops and open space will be created.
Sue Steer is on the ground at the start of that journey as a Pioneer Community Worker. Through excellent ecumenical relationships she is employed by Churches Together and they have partnered with the council to help build a healthy community. Home Mission is helping enable the ministry. Sue is a welcoming presence and as a true pioneer she has no idea what the church will look like long term.
Her aim for now is listening, learning, loving and serving the community. She has no agenda, it’s about the Missio Dei. How can we join in with what God is already doing?
She has been a welcoming presence for a year. There were very few people to begin with, just builders, and developers alongside a lot of mud. Some of those early days were therefore spent with the people living in the parishes which border the new town. There was some opposition to the build and Sue has spent time with those people trying to build peace. She also got to know the sales teams and workers on site.
The sales teams have been very welcoming to Sue and she often can be found in the sales offices getting to know people ahead of moving in. People really like the fact there is someone who is going to help cultivate a new community.
Since 28 houses have been occupied and Sue is being supported by a couple of families from local Baptist churches. as well as other church leaders in the area. New arrivals receive a welcome pack including the offer to bless their new home. Gifts of bulbs and chocolate accompany this.
Sue will soon be occupying the community cabin which will be a welcoming space for people. Reflecting on this and the journey so far, she says ‘I have come to be a bit of the go to person which is great. It’s nice to help people, being there to listen. I’m here for all faiths and none. People are appreciating the visits and being listened to ’.
There are challenges. For example, isolation is an issue, but how do you gather people when there are no facilities yet? Sue has spotted that a lot of people go jogging so a running club could be a good option. It’s also about giving something a go and seeing if it will flow’.
Sue has been equipping herself for the challenges ahead. This has included mental health first aid training, which she recommends. She has network of supporters and this includes Penny Marsh and Ali Boulton, Baptists who are also serving new housing areas.
Key to helping secure long term fruitfulness has been the investment in a Transformational Index (TI), a tool that helps organisations identify their intended social impact and measure progress (http://www.thetransformationalindex.org/
) A team from TI came to work with Sue and the ecumenical partners and worked through the key questions:
What do we want to achieve and what are our measures?
They knew that conversions and ‘bums on seats’ were an inappropriate measure, so these are the measures they developed:
Inspiration to come together
Tell stories, listen to others and join together to make new ones
Engage with people
Engagement with the community is then measured against these, and the first of many reports have been produced.
Sue brings together all that’s happening in this reflection – ‘We’re out there at the very beginning seeking to build something that is of God’.
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