Why A Charter?
When social historians look back on the first few years of the third millennium, whatever else they have to say, they will record that these were the years of the painful re-invention of public services here in the UK.
In every community, rural, suburban and urban, there is the aching need for a fresh approach to tackling besetting social needs. And as government increasingly faces the reality that it does not have the tools to tackle these issues alone, the door of opportunity is wide open for everyone with an appetite to get involved and make a contribution. What’s more, the Church, which for so long was regarded by so many as the Cinderella of community development, has very clearly been invited to the ball. The only question that remains to be answered is will we have the courage to accept that invitation?
The current political climate and the track record of Faithworks has opened up a massive opportunity for the Church to work in its rightful place at the heart of every local community. However, this is no time for complacency. As some in Government waver and the battle for the place of faith in public life goes on, it’s time to prove once again that our faith works, and that the Church is capable of ‘scaling up’ to become a key player in delivering the safety net of holistic care that every community needs.
A need for excellence
The truth is that we face a huge challenge. We need to work hard to overcome the suspicion that Christian welfare provision is simply proselytism via the backdoor; that our churches are self-serving and detached from the real needs of the communities they are supposed to be serving; that what we do is short term and amateurish. We need to demonstrate not only that we are already in the forefront of ‘hands-on’ community welfare across the UK, but that we are now keen to build our capacity and deliver professional and sustainable, life-changing models of care. That’s what The Faithworks Charter is all about. If we are going to work in our communities and in partnership with other agencies and local and national government, then we need to be committed to do so in a professional manner. And we have to learn to stand and speak together with one voice.
An embodiment of the Church’s calling
The Faithworks Charter is not about some trendy re-invention of the Church, rather it’s about the rediscovery of our roots – a return to our original calling. The media often attempt to write-off the Church, claiming it no longer has a role to play or a voice to be heard in our society – but they have got their facts wrong. As our politicians struggle with the huge issues of how to reinvent community, every local church has a vital and indispensable role to play. The Faithworks Charter is a statement that when it comes to welfare provision, local churches and Christian charities offer rooted, sustainable, committed, imaginative and transforming solutions to the deepest physical and spiritual needs of the UK ’s communities that really work.
Because of developments in European law (EU Council Directive No.2000/78/EC,Article 4) there is a storm brewing in the form of a government debate about employment policy and how it impacts the freedom of faith-based projects to employ those personally committed to their faith. However,we already know that a number of local councils have denied partnership to church projects around the UK over this issue.
One of the key themes of the Faithworks Charter is a clear declaration that while committed because of our Christian faith to serve all unconditionally, we must remain free to pursue employment policies which do not compromise our core ethos or values and therefore the distinctive role that we play.
To be forced to do otherwise would be to rip out our soul and therefore our capacity to continue to deliver the very services our communities need from us.
We serve because of our faith, not in spite of it. To change the metaphor – our faith is our engine. For the Church at least, no faith no works. And more than that, we believe that it is Christian faith that brings hope and transformation to individual lives and communities and see our work as an ongoing unconditional demonstration of this.
The Faithworks Charter
Put together by a team of professionals including, practitioners, church leaders, lawyers and policy makers, The Faithworks Charter is a ‘kite-mark ’of quality assurance for local churches, Christian agencies and projects to sign up to and then work hard towards.And as thousands of churches of all denominations, Christian projects and agencies stand together to deliver this standard of excellence in community care,our goal is that Christ’s Church will begin to be taken just as seriously as a key welfare provider of the 21st century as we were in centuries past.
Part of the Faithworks Movement’s raison d’être is to give individual Christians and local churches a voice that can be heard in Government and to enable them to join together with tens of thousands of others across the UK to demonstrate that faith works. So as churches and projects currently working for change in their local communities or considering starting a new initiative for social action,sign the Charter, Faithworks will deliver them to 10 Downing Street.
Government and media will then have a clear signal that when it comes to welfare provision churches can, and do, deliver a professional, but distinctively Christian, service to the heart of every local community. As you sign the Faithworks Charter and seek to provide excellence in your com- munity work, Faithworks has developed a number of tools to help you do just that:
Faithworks Unpacked:The Manual (Published in April by Kingsway)
Faithworks Unpacked: The Tour
During April and May 2002,at venues up and down the country, Faithworks will be running interactive day-long seminars for leaders to explore issues of social justice, partnership with local government and professional delivery. A day aimed to leave you equipped, enthused and armed with resources to engage more effectively with your com- munity. For more information or to reserve tickets, call 020 7450 9046 or visit www.faithworks.info and contact the venues direct.
Faithworks: Skills Bank
Faithworks is developing a Skills Bank – a team of volunteers with expertise and experience from around the UK who are ready, willing and able to share their skills to help local churches turn their vision for their community into reality. Whether your field is education, finance, strategic planning, management, health, housing, children’s work, youth work, government, social work …etc; whether you can offer two days or two months a year, we need to hear from you if you want to become part of our national team of consultants by helping local churches in your area serve their communities in a more professional manner.
For more on the Skills Bank contact Tim Waldron on 020 7450 9086,email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Faithworks Movement is an initiative of the Oasis Trust in partnership with Care, Care for the Family, The Catholic Agency for Social Concern, Christianity+Renewal Magazine, Christian Herald, Moorlands College, Shaftesbury Housing and the YMCA and is also working with FaceValues.
THE FAITHWORKS CHARTER
PRINCIPLES FOR CHURCHES AND LOCAL CHRISTIAN AGENCIES COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY WORK AND SERVICE PROVISION IN THE UK
Motivated by our Christian faith we commit ourselves to serve others by assuring the follow-ing standards in all our community work within 12 months of signing this Charter.
Service to the Community
- To serve and to respect all people regardless of their gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, religion, age, sexual orientation or physical and mental capability.
- To acknowledge the freedom of people of all faiths or none both to hold and to express their beliefs and convictions respectfully and freely, within the limits of the UK law.
- Never to impose our Christian faith or belief on others.
- To develop partnerships with other churches, voluntary groups, statutory agencies and local government wherever appropriate in order to create an effective, integrated service for our clients avoiding unnecessary duplication of resources.
- To provide and to publicise regular consultation and reporting forums to client groups and the wider community regarding the effective development and delivery of our work and our responsiveness to their actual needs.
Clients, Staff and Volunteers
- To create an environment where clients, volunteers and employees are encouraged and enabled to realise their potential.
- To assist our clients, volunteers and employees to take responsibility for their own learning and development, both through formal and informal training opportunities and ongoing assessment.
- To develop an organisational culture in which individuals learn from any mistakes made and where excellence and innovation are encouraged and rewarded.
- To promote the value of a balanced, holistic lifestyle as part of each individual’s overall personal development.
- To abide by the requirements of employment law in the UK and to implement best employment practices and procedures designed to maintain our distinctive ethos and values.
Management and Outcomes
- To implement a management structure which fosters and encourages participation by staff at all levels in order to facilitate the fulfilment of the project’s goals and visions.
- To set and to review measurable and timed outcomes annually, and regularly to evaluate and monitor our management structure and output, recognising the need for ongoing organisational flexibility, development and good stewardship of resources.
- To do all we can to ensure that we are not over-dependent on any one source of funding.
- To implement best practice procedures in terms of Health and Safety and Child Protection in order to protect our staff, volunteers and clients.
- To handle our funding in a transparent and accountable way and to give relevant people from outside our organisation/project reasonable access to our accounts.
Signed on behalf of:
Denomination (if appropriate)
Return to: Nathan Oley, Faithworks 115 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 0AX