'We’re excited to be partnering with so many people of goodwill'
New partnerships have formed aiming to 'bring some good to everyone' in Milton Keynes, with the activity sparked by Christian charity Redeeming Our Communities (ROC), explains Nathan Marlam, minister at Loughton Baptist Church
Redeeming Our Communities
(ROC) is a Community Engagement Charity that empowers local people of goodwill to work together for safer, stronger communities. It is a Christian-led organisation that has a strong vision for social change. With 18 years of experience and more than 250 projects in action and development across the country, ROC’s heart is to see communities transformed by the love of Jesus.
Loughton Baptist Church, Milton Keynes has recently been involved in a ROC Conversation, a one-year community engagement project.
These conversations begin with an invitation from a local area, sometimes coming from a statutory body such as the police or a local authority; other times it may be a local charity or church or even a school.
The request is always based on the need for a neutral facilitator to gather a diverse group with no specific agenda other than the desire to strengthen the community through opening a door of communication between existing groups.
The first stage is a three-month period of research conducted by ROC which maps the area to identify as many projects and groups as possible currently active in delivering social action, mainly focusing on voluntary organisations but also including senior officials from social services, emergency services, schools and social enterprises.
Personal contacts are made with as many of these groups as possible and information about their work is recorded. A centrally located venue is booked for a two-hour structured event, personal invitations are sent and general publicity is circulated.
The event celebrates the many good things already happening in the locality. We discuss specific areas of need in the community and then explore potential ways of addressing those needs.
After the event, a report summary is compiled detailing the discussions and from this a volunteer action group is formed that then launches new projects with on going support from ROC.
In Milton Keynes, three groups were formed. One that focuses on mental health and wellbeing, another that works closely on issues of social justice and another that works towards addressing youth concerns.
One of the many ideas that have emerged from the conversation in Milton Keynes is a Detached Youth Work Project that is funded with support from the Local Authority and Thames Valley Police. A van has been purchased and fitted with a range of equipment and is used to enable a team of volunteers to connect with the young people of the city.
Loughton Baptist Church is involved in various ways. The core team of volunteers for the Youth Project is from LBC. We've also been doing the ROC Family Mentoring scheme
, and most recently joining with Kintsugi Hope to set up wellbeing groups in secondary schools
All of this has come as result of partnering with ROC.
As a result of working with ROC, I've found myself sitting on the Serious Violence Strategy Delivery Group in Milton Keynes which focuses on reducing youth violence in the city and the Youth Project is a part of that story. It's also opened the door to other networks too.
We’re excited to be partnering with so many people of goodwill who desire to make a positive impact in the community. The project is proof that communities coming together in collaboration through a ROC Conversation can bring about some good for everyone.
We’re really looking forward to continue serving the young people of our city through this project and sharing the love of Jesus in a practical way.
Nathan Marlam is minister at Loughton Baptist Church
This autumn, ROC is hosting its first national conference since the pandemic
It is an opportunity for churches and Christian-led organisations to hear God’s heart for their own community and be better inspired to serve their localities.
The conference takes place over 2-3 November at High Leigh Conference centre. Worship is being led by Lou Fellingham.
Anyone interested in participating can learn more here: roc.uk.com/event/go-higher.
There is an early bird rate until the end of July.