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Fresh hope for communities across the UK

When the going gets tough, the Church gets stuck in. At least, that’s the experience of Eden, run by The Message Trust, in some of the poorest neighbourhoods across the UK.

The Government’s updated Indices of Multiple Deprivation has been released today (26 September) naming the places where statistics say life is toughest in England. For the last 22 years Eden volunteers have been moving into neighbourhoods named in the bottom 10% of these rankings, bringing about real change.

The heart of Eden is the long-term. Teams commit years of their lives to live in the communities that people tend to forget about, working in partnership with churches and their new neighbours to bring about transformation.

The 2019 Indices show that 12 of the bottom 20 areas of deprivation are in the town of Blackpool. The Central Drive area of Blackpool was today named as the second most deprived neighbourhood in England – and plans for an Eden team to move into the area next year are already in place.

The same is true for many of the other places named in the bottom 10% of the new indices.
Benchill in Wythenshawe is just one of over 60 places where Eden has worked. At one point named the most deprived place in England, a team launched there in 1997. Volunteers spent years building relationships with the community, in particular the young people. They’ve seen hope come back into people’s lives and them begin to see beyond what the statistics say about where they live.

Today, 22 years later, some of the original volunteers still call Benchill home and the people you
meet in a place once synonymous with deprivation have a brighter outlook for the future.
The impact and effectiveness Eden brings about is undeniable, with countless lives being
transformed.

The Mill Lane alley project in Stockton-on-Tees,
carried out when an American group visited.
"We organised local residents to transform their
back alley and partnered with the council to
cover the cost!"

Lives like Paul’s.

Paul has lived in Ragworth in Stockton on Tees – a town named in England’s bottom 10% in 2015 - most of his life. Growing up he watched the place he loved get forgotten and hope fade in people’s eyes, as they began to feel like their life opportunities were limited just because of where they lived.

With the launch of an Eden team in the area came real change. They helped to launch a community building running breakfast and lunch clubs, youth clubs and a church service. Volunteers spent time building relationships with the community and listening to what they felt they needed to make Ragworth a place they were proud of.

After meeting the Eden team, Paul found a way to make his voice heard. Today, he spends his time mentoring young people, running football clubs for young lads on his estate and investing back into the community he’s always called home.

And we’re far from done … much more change is needed.

“There are so many towns in our nation where people need to be heard and given hope. The
answer to this is never going to be a quick fix. Communities need people to invest in them for the long-term so that together they can transform lives. The church is key to making this happen.

“Over the past few years we’ve seen this happening more and more, with Eden now having had over 600 volunteers who have made the decision to be downwardly mobile and move into the 60 projects we’ve launched. The transformation they bring to people and places is humbling and they’re my heroes … but there is so much more to do,” said Sam Ward, Director of Ministry at The Message Trust, who run Eden.

You can play your part in helping to bring about transformation by getting involved with Eden. Head to www.joineden.org to find out more.

MAIN PHOTO: Eden's Mill Lane team out in the community in Stockton-on-Tees

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