David Cameron’s dream of The Big Society may have fizzled away since the 2010 election, but there are still a few remnants that live on. One of these is the Big Society Awards that seek to recognise outstanding people and organisations whose innovative and dedicated work improves lives and strengthens communities.
It’s very encouraging to hear that The Cinnamon Network has been given a Big Society Award by the Prime Minister today.
The Cinnamon Network is a community of 100 CEOs of charities, social enterprises and church denominations who are passionate about strengthening the muscles of local churches for community transformation. It is a partnership between Make It* Happen, Piercing Blue and Tearfund operating under Tearfund’s management and governance. The vision of The Cinnamon Network is to see the UK Church step up to increasingly meet the growing social needs within our communities. Its primary strategy is Community Franchising which aims to replicate successful local church based social transformation projects across the UK.
It has a range of funds that offer a number of grants to churches to fund social action projects which have included Street Pastors in Manchester, a befriending scheme for isolated older people in Wokingham and debt advice services in Bradford.
The Network launched in 2010. It supports projects in every region in England and has begun expanding into Scotland. It is estimated that 2,950 local churches are running projects in their local communities, with the help of 47,440 volunteers and benefiting 690,242 people.
Commenting on the award Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“I’m pleased to be able to give The Cinnamon Network this Big Society Award in recognition of the huge difference they have made across the country.
“From jobs clubs to street pastors, by supporting churches to address the most pressing issues in their neighbourhoods, The Cinnamon Network is transforming communities for the better.”
Matt Bird, Co-Chair of the Cinnamon Network said:
“The Cinnamon Network is strengthening the muscles of local churches by generating ideas for community projects, encouraging neighbouring churches to work in partnership and providing £2,000 micro-grants to any church that wants to start a recognised project.We want to make sure that local churches have the funding and support to do what they do best – reaching out to their local communities to help those most in need.”
The Cinnamon Network supports projects in every region of England including:
- Tunbridge Wells, where a group of nine churches; the New Life Calvary Church St Philip’s Church, King Charles the Martyr, Vale Royal Methodist Church, United Reformed Church, TW Baptist Church,Salvation Army Church, St James’ Church, St Augustine’s, and King Charles the Martyr are being supported to run Nightshelters providing short-term accommodation for homeless people
- Portsmouth, where the network has helped fund a debt-advice centre
- Cornwall, where Cinnamon Network grants have allowed Community Money Advice centres to be set up in Launceston and Bude
- Sparkhill, where St John’s Church has received funding to run a Community Money Advice centre as part of the Narthex Community Centre
- Greater Manchester, where grants from the Network have helped provide personal development sessions for ex offenders
- Across the North East the network supports and helps fund ‘Open Door North East’, providing assistance and training to help refugees integrate into the local community
- Corby, where the Network’s ‘Lunch’ scheme provides healthy, cooked free school meals in the holidays
- In Norwich, Peterborough and Cambridge ‘Hope into Action’ have been given support and seed grants from the Network to help them provide housing for homeless people in partnership with local churches
- Bradford is the home of Christian Against Poverty’s debt advice services which, with support and funding from the Network, offer a combination of professional debt management, financial education and face-to-face support and encouragement
It’s very welcome to see the widespread work of churches in their communities being valued publicly by David Cameron. The Cinnamon Network is providing a valuable service to churches through an effective and sustainable model and its recognition is thoroughly deserved. Congratulations to Matt Bird, David Westlake and the team.