Sacred Heart Church, Tamworth
We catch up with volunteer church outreach worker, Annette Saunders, who tells us that the church is right where its needed – the most deprived area of Tamworth.
So many people depend on Sacred Heart Church and the space that it offers. If the church cannot offer support, there is no one else to do it.
Annette has always volunteered since her children were small. She would take them to church and help out. “I love working with kids, with the homeless, with different people. I hate seeing anyone struggling, it breaks my heart.”
The church dates from the 1960s, and serves the Glascote Heath neighbourhood, a mainly residential part of Tamworth with a few convenience stores and pubs. The church is building a new cafe area to help reach more people. This will be a welcoming place for people to come and find the support services they need.
“The vulnerable people in the community really appreciate the help we give here, says Annette. “A lot of the people don’t come to worship – they turn to the church because they are in need.”
Sacred Heart church plays a pivotal role in the running of a winter night shelter, providing accommodation to rough sleepers between the months of December through to March. The church offers a place to sleep, evening meal and breakfast. Volunteers cook the food which is provide by donations and from their own food bank. 150 volunteers are needed to provide this service with rotas for cooking the meals and breakfasts. On average 7 people sleep overnight with a maximum accommodation of 10. Shower and cleaning facilities also provided. If the shelter was not provided, many of the vulnerable would sleep in tents in the woods.
‘Street Angels’ is another initiative that the church is involved in. Operating from 10pm-4am on a Saturday night, the Street Angels help people who are out at night needing assistance. Following initial reservations about the role of the Street Angel, the Police now value their presence as it allows their time to be freed up to spend on more serious incidents.
The pubs and clubs, police and the Street Angels are all in contact via radio. The Angels can help up to 50 people a night mainly drink and drug related issues, sometimes simply to guide a person into a taxi to send them home, up to searching a river for a missing person. Without street angels there would be a lot more vulnerable people in Tamworth, violence and crime could get worse as a result.