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Bristol: making a big noise by serving those in need

Every May bank holiday weekend, something extraordinary happens in Bristol ...

Every May bank holiday weekend, something extraordinary happens in Bristol. Hundreds of Christians from dozens of churches come together to serve their communities over three packed days of social action.

The Noise is all about showing God’s love in practical ways. It started with a handful of volunteers in 2001 who wanted to give some practical help to a needy local area; this year, around 1,000 people will pitch in over the weekend, serving 10 of Bristol’s most vulnerable communities.

In small teams, they will dig gardens and pick litter, paint community centres, cook banquets for senior citizens, offer prayer on the streets, put on free football coaching, and run family fun days, creating a kind of carnival atmosphere, whatever the weather.

“If we believe that God cares about these communities, then we need to demonstrate that,” says Esther Legg-Bagg, the Noise Co-ordinator.

“In disadvantaged communities, there can be a feeling that nobody cares. It makes an impact when we spend hours weeding somebody’s garden for no other reason than that we believe God loves them. Last year, one lady got in touch to say, ‘I can’t believe what you guys from The Noise have done to my garden, I cried as it’s just like it used to be!’ That’s an amazing gift to give.”

This mass demonstration of God’s love and care for the local area keeps on growing. Last year, people from over 50 different churches helped out.

The Noise isn’t just about one weekend in May though; Esther explains that the vision is to inspire the start-up of long-term initiatives, and to be an encouragement to ongoing projects. Many of the activities running over the weekend will continue throughout the year, including kids’ clubs, sports activities, and events for senior citizens. The weekend gives them a boost and helps them – and local churches – to connect with more people in their communities.

“The Noise inspires us to pray for these communities too. Every year, we run 100 days of prayer leading up to the weekend – we believe that prayer and action go hand in hand.”

Aside from the impact on Bristol, one of Esther’s highlights is seeing the impact on the volunteers.

“More than a third of all volunteers last year were a part of a Family Team or Youth Group Team. This is a lot of children and young people! It’s very exciting to see the vision and heart behind The Noise being caught by the next generation. Especially when they come back saying they’re really enjoyed picking litter or shovelling manure.”

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