Caring in Stowmarket, Suffolk

Since October 2017 Stowmarket Parish Church has been asking their congregation, local groups and visitors to the Stowmarket Christmas tree festival, one simple question – ‘What hurts you the most? Having spoken with over 1500 people, they received over 500 anonymous response cards which have been analysed to understand what is affecting people in the town. The top issues identified  were : Family and Relationship problems, Injustice, Physical Suffering and Negative Emotions. Death and Loneliness also featured as key issues particularly in responses received the week immediately before Christmas. A dedicated WHO CARES? working group within the Parish Church is now looking at what can be done to offer help and hope to people affected by these issues. We’re holding a series of drop in chat sessions

Rev Michael Eden, St Peters & St Mary’s Church, Stowmarket

Who Cares? - Do children have worries too?

In 2014 Well Spring Family Church (WFC) in Dereham, participated in Who Cares? as part of the Norfolk wide mission programme.

WFC decided to extend the reach and appeal by taking a version of the Who Cares concept into primary school.  1 town and 3 village schools were selected.

…” so many children are experiencing all sorts of hurts that they don’t know how to express.  A tailored version of Who Cares? gave the children a ‘language’ to discuss their emotions and feelings….”  Explained Jon Beardon

Working closely with the staff from each school, and after first undertaking the survey with staff, a special assembly was held introducing all the children to the concept.  They then completed the survey.  Results were quickly analysed and categorised and about 7-10 days later, the team returned to give the children feedback. However this was delivered using various educational tools, for example, the children created graphs of the findings, represented findings through drama sessions.  The parable of the good samaritan was used to demonstrate issues such as caring, and history lessons looked at how Christians of the past have responded to various hurts e.g anti slavery, Banardos etc.  Creation of a blob tree - a visual representation of emotions.  The day was summarised and concluded with and assembly which included songs and a bible story, prayer and blessing.

Results and key finding from Suffolk Who Cares

x no of Suffolk churches ran the Who Cares survey Spring 2018. A total of 6,144 responses were achieved.

In East Suffolk many responses highlighted negative emotions as one of the main hurts and accounted for 18.7% of the results across all age groups for this region. This was found to be significantly higher than any other category, accounting for over a quarter of all responses for those in the 18-34 age bracket

In West Suffolk, injustice came out as the top category and included both global (e.g concerns over ware and famine) and more personal issues ( lying and bullying). Almost a fifth of the responses in West Suffolk related to injustice and is reflective across all age ranges except for the under 18s, where negative emotions featured more highly

One final , intriguing observation is that despite many communities facing financial difficulties, money concerns did not feature significantly.

Results and key findings from Hampshire

The Who Cares? survey was run during x in and around the Basingstoke area of Hampshire, with x no* churches participating. A total of 11,798 responses were collated and analysed.

There were three key categories that featured most, these were Negative Emotions accounting for 19.77% of the findings Family (18.26%) and Relationships (16.89%). In the case of those aged under 18, Relationships accounted for the greatest number of hurts (31.46%). Those aged 18-34 and 35-65, noted that Negative emotions and family were the biggest hurts. This finding is consistent with the overall data.

The data was also analysed by gender, although not everyone selected to identify thier gender in the survey, but where it was, Family (20.03%) accounted for the greatest hurst for females where as 22.47% of males identified negative emotions as their key hurt

What some folks have to say about this mission tool ......

"Who Cares is reaching parts of the community few other parts of the church can reach...It's a simple yet powerful model of mission.  There are many examples of the impact and follow up the Who Cares Mission is having in Suffolk” ……..  There are other parishes contemplating using Who Cares as a first stage in a far longer commitment to reach out to their local communities that goes beyond a one off wider mission. This is particularly appealing to churches from different traditions and helps them to engage in proclaiming the gospel with authenticity.

The Revd Canon Dave Gardener, Director of Mission and Ministry, Dioceses of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

"This may have the longest impact of any mission I've been in for 30 years”

Bishop of Basingstoke 

Holmes -Rahe Stress Scale

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe conducted a study with over 5,000 patients on the connection between significant life events and illness. The resulting chart – known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale – which contained 43 causes of stress in 1967, was updated to 55 causes in 2006. It appears we are finding more ways of feeling stressed!

Not far from the top of the list are finances, work, family, personal concerns, relationships, and death – issues that many people face, regardless of how secure they may appear.  Who Care’s survey, whilst not scientific,  has provided an updated view of the issues that cause stress, anxiety and hopelessness.  

Churches in parts of Hampshire and Suffolk undertook surveys during late 2017 and their findings can be found elsewhere on this site


Vision for the Future

We’ve now done Who Cares? in three counties with over 150 churches. We are believing God for 12 new areas over the next 3 years. Please join us in praying that God would open doors for our message. We have three key prayer areas, for which we ask your support

  • Opportunity:

    • We’re seeking God for the opportunity to meet with leaders in three areas this year with whom we can share our vision for Who Cares?

  • Finances:

    • For financial provision of £90,000 to deliver the three year vision

  • People:

    • For the provision of the right people to make our dreams happen