THE BEACON PROJECT

INTRODUCTION

This is the story of Sundon Park Baptist Church’s need to re-develop. The Beacon Project began when the church, through no fault of its own, found its current buildings condemned as potentially unsafe. Rather than simply re-build a place of worship, the church conducted a survey, asking the local community what facilities were needed to improve their lives.

SURVEY

The results showed a community with increasing social problems which were not being addressed, and local residents who wanted more facilities for health, entertainment and a variety of functions and services. With this information in mind, the church set about producing a plan aimed at providing as many of these facilities as possible, to improve the lives of local people and increase the social capital of the area, before serious decline set in.

Sundon Park has much social housing, and many of these homes are occupied by young families, often a young mother coping alone with up to three children under five. According to the council’s figures, 25% of children here live in poverty. We already run two parent and toddler groups [one of which was formerly housed in the Library] and a nursery to help support these parents. Those from other countries lack family support, so we hope to provide help for them. We also want to make contact with non-English-speaking parents, in the hope of providing English and citizenship classes alongside parenting support.

Many of the longer-term residents of Sundon Park are now over seventy and needing help of various kinds. As few are able to drive, they become more dependant on local services, of which there are very few since the local community centre and library were closed down. We have been asked by the local branch of Age UK to befriend the lonely, which we are happy to do. We will do more in our new buildings. Increasing numbers of folk of all ages are being diagnosed with dementia, so we want to expand the services we offer to those living with this illness and their carers. Our current provision for those living with dementia and their carers is well-recognised and has been copied by other centres, to whom we offer training. It is recommended by the Alzheimers’ Society, Bedfordshire, and the local dementia consultant and centre.

As well as meeting the needs of the very young and the elderly in the community, a variety of health issues have been identified in Sundon Park. These include people with addictions to drugs and / or alcohol; those with mental or emotional health problems, and those needing help recuperating and exercising after surgery, heart attacks or strokes.

WHAT TO DO

Sundon Park Baptist Church aims to increase and improve the health and social capital of our area, through The Beacon Project. We wish to provide a set of multi-purpose community-orientated buildings, part of which could be used for worship.

We are becoming well-known as a community church, with a welcome for all local residents and want to provide, in addition to Sunday services, a cafe/drop-in/advice, & support centre, a surgery and related health/counselling services, a nursery or similar childcare facility, and bookable rooms for a range of community activities including training courses, meetings, indoor bowls, keep fit, dancing etc. We want to offer space to a local library also [1000-4000 books].

There is currently very little locally by way of support or counselling for local people. We aim to work in consultation with local GPs to provide a medical centre where alongside combined GP practices, a wide variety of supplementary help could be made available. This would have the additional benefit of relieving pressure on the local hospital.

Previously our church has been totally self-supporting and self-financing, and has indeed supported other valuable initiatives in Luton and beyond, as we are a very loving and generous church, but now we need some help - not for us, but to provide for others. We could build a simple church for ourselves very easily, but our local community needs much more. The Beacon Project is SPBC‘s proposal to meet these needs, bringing light instead of darkness, healing instead of hurting and hope instead of despair. We aim to serve Sundon Park and its neighbouring villages, to prevent its decline and improve its social and public health.

We have already raised nearly £100,000 towards our £million-plus target, and are so committed to this Project that we are prepared to borrow to finance it, but would prefer to have to borrow as little as possible. Should you wish to donate to or invest in our Project, we would be delighted to hear from you.

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