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Wider Strategic Approaches

Another way in which parishes can be helped to address particular issues or take actions forward is if there is strategic work at national and/or diocesan level. This study includes three examples:

□ The Diocese of London began a partnership with The Children’s Society (TCS) in 2005/6 that eventually led to a three year written Youth Strategy for the Diocese for 2008-2011, which is now being updated. A worker from TCS conducted an extensive consultation and the Diocese could also draw on the findings of the Society’s 2006 Good Childhood Inquiry to inform the strategy. Since then, there has been training and accreditation for youth leaders at basic and more advanced levels, support and guidance for them and parishes and the resources have been produced including a self-evaluation tool for churches. Young people have been trained to administer the fund that offers small grants to youth groups and Young Advisers help to train others. The project has also helped CUF to assess youth work funding applications from the Diocese.

□ Faith in Affordable housing is a project managed by Housing Justice that provides a web-based guide to help churches offer their land or property for affordable housing and a Project Co-ordinator can work with churches considering a scheme on a no-fee basis. The paper on affordable housing in this study also gives examples of diocesan approaches: one focusing on large ‘time-expired’ church buildings and the other on selling or leasing church land. Having the strategy and/or expertise within the diocese helps to simplify the process for local churches. In this policy sphere as in others, recent policy changes mean that it is necessary to keep abreast of potential partners and funding sources for such schemes. Some former funding streams have gone. At present, a Community land Trust is a potential vehicle and the paper gives an example of a local scheme. In addition, there is a template in Appendix IV that looks at steps towards a CLT.

□ Shrinking the Footprint, launched in 2006, is the Church’s campaign and programme of action to mitigate climate change. It invited all parishes to carry out an audit of their energy use to establish a benchmark. Having assessed the size of the current carbon footprint, the idea was to roll out initiatives to shrink that footprint. The paper included in this study also refers to ‘Grow Zones’, a national project for those who want to start a community growing project. Two regional responses to environmental issues are an Environment Group set up jointly by six dioceses in South West England and a North West-wide multi-faith environmental project. There are descriptions of a diocesan strategy and a joint Anglican/Roman Catholic response in another diocese and an example of a congregation meeting the criteria of the Eco-Congregation Award.

In all of these, there is a clear connection between thinking from the national to the local, with the information, expertise and benchmarks that can be provided nationally giving encouragement, ideas and a useful framework for local activities.