Friday, 25 November 2011

10 reasons to buy a Caring Christmas Tree in SE London

1. Christmas is a great time to be generous to those in need.

2. The trees we sell are fabulous real Scottish freshly cut Nordmann trees.  These are the most popular selling trees in the UK.  We offer very competitive pricing as well.

3. The profit goes to the Jericho Road Project which houses very vulnerable rough sleepers in safe supportive accommodation.  We have 6 houses in the borough of Lewisham.

4. Volunteers, many who have previously experienced rough sleeping, are involved.  This includes distributing postcards, on the vans helping deliver trees and at the sites helping customers.

5. The Jericho Road Project provides about 4500 meals (3 courses) a year to people in need through the Feast which is our weekly outreach meeting.

6. The publicity helps promote the work we do to a much wider audience. 

7. We help people change but it takes time and commitment, let me tell you about one man who was referred to us about 4 years ago for support at the Feast and help with his benefits.  For the first year or two he did nothing to help himself, it was always someone else's fault and he would sit around expecting others to sort out his problems for him!  However in recent times at the Feast he has become a brilliant helper.  He doesn't need to be asked he does jobs such as emptying the bins and taking them out to the main bin.  As you can imagine, this is not a pleasant job.  He is not doing it because he has been told to do it but he has chosen to do it.  This story demonstrates that with time and a supportive environment people will change.  He has moved from being the problem to becoming part of the solution.

8. Real Christmas Trees make a room and a house smell brilliantly Christmassy.

9. The Project creates opportunities for vulnerable people to go on holiday, we go to Chepstow in March and then to an event called Encounter Camp in June.

10. Finally, we even deliver the trees to your door for a small (ish) extra fee.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Lionhearts FC - more leading than managing!

I am reading a great book called 'The 360 degree leader' by a guy called John Maxwell.  Page after page I am confronted by superb reflections on leadership; each section or even sentence requires me to reflect and question my own leadership.  For example Maxwell explains the difference between management and leadership - "managers work with processes - leaders work with people.  Both are necessary to make an organisation run smoothly, but they have different functions"

This got me thinking about the areas I 'manage' and especially Lionhearts FC which is the Saturday morning kids football team I am responsible for.  Lionhearts has increased from 1 team in the 2009-2010 season into 4 teams playing in the South London Churches League 2011-2012.  This means that we have around 50 lads between the age of 8 and 14 involved every weekend.  This is a rapid expansion of players but also managers and leaders.

Whilst I hold responsibility for the whole club there are a fantastic group of people involved.  However I get to lead the under 14's A team who as I write are undefeated after 4 league games this season.  Last year we finished bottom of the league (see a previous blog 'Managing the team at the bottom of the league') so this season's success has come after a number of major leadership challenges.   Imagine how you would motivate a team during a half time team talk when you are losing 7-0 at half time.

Managing the under 14's team requires far more working with people than working with processes.  I think that all Football Managers need to be great leaders.  It is about getting the most out of the players and this is achieved by valuing the players as people.  Seeing players flourish as part of a team is one of the great joys of being involved in Lionhearts.  That does not depend on how talented a boy is but on helping the lads develop in how they apply themselves.  On Saturday the under 14's team I coached played with amazing passion and each did their jobs so well, prepared to work hard for the whole team.  I won't name names for obvious reasons but I expect all the boys slept well on Saturday night because they worked so hard and were brilliant!  Character was shown when they responded to being behind twice in the match coming through to win 6-4.

A winning team however does not mean that leadership becomes easier.  Leadership is essential whether the team is winning or losing.  Developing character is an essential part of life as well as key to playing good football (despite the examples set in some parts of the professional game).  And when we next lose a match we will learn more about our team!

Finally a huge THANK YOU to all the Dad's who help 'manage' and also the young coaches who help with training and make Lionhearts FC a great place to be.  Let's value everyone's contribution!  And let's LEAD these young lads to become better people!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Who buys a real Christmas Tree?

Caring Christmas Trees returns for it's 3rd year in South East London.  We are aiming to raise over £4000 towards the work of the Jericho Road Project as well as increasing the profile of the project.  We are selling trees to businesses with deliveries taking place on the 30th November and 1st December.  Orders by the 21st November.  Then individuals can order trees for pick up from a choice of 4 sites, prices start at £35 (delivery is extra).  All the information is found at 

Each year we want to increase our sales so we are asking the question "who buys a real tree"?

We have produced 25K 'Do you buy a real Christmas tree?' postcards and we are getting information into magazines, newspapers and online.  However the best form of advertising is personal recommendation, so if you get a chance please put in a good word for Caring Christmas Trees. 

This year Chris Rockall has joined the Trees team adding his considerable knowledge of promotion to help us get the message out.

Heidi Alexander MP has agreed to promote the Tree project and we will release a press release following a photo opportunity with Heidi on the 1st December.

We have planned for teams to go out on Tuesday's and Thursday's between 4-7 to hand out flyers at stations, to local businesses and to homes.  If you are able to, please join us.

But if you can't make one of those teams, here are some other ways to help.

1. Buy a Tree
2. Promote Caring Christmas Trees at your work or school.  Postcards, eflyers and posters available.
3. Help us get opportunities to promote Trees, for example book bags in schools, media outlets or link us to key people who will help promote the Trees.
4. Volunteer on the sites - great opportunity to help our customers and get you into the Christmas mood.  Contact to get involved.

Last year nearly 380 real trees were bought by families and businesses across South East London.  This year we are reaching for more because we know that we can make a greater difference for vulnerable people.  We help many rough sleepers but we also help prevent people become homeless.  Your support helps us make a greater difference to those in need.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Lewisham Rough Sleepers Count - 9th November 2011

Tonight we are conducting a rough sleepers count in Lewisham.  This involves the agencies collating information on rough sleepers and then comparing our notes to rule out double counting.  This type of count comes in higher than if we try and spot people rough sleeping during 1 or 2 hours in the middle of the night.   Please email me if you know of any rough sleepers that you can verify meet the definition of rough sleeping below.


In 2010 the Government widened the definition of rough sleeping and when estimating or counting

it is essential that those included in the count figure fall into the following definition:

People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or

actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus

shelters or encampments). People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation

(such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or “bashes”).

The definition does not include people in hostels or shelters, people in campsites or other sites

used for recreational purposes or organised protest, squatters or travellers.

It does not include people who were rough sleeping in the area on a previous night or earlier in the

evening but who were not there at the time of the count. It does not include people wandering

around or empty sleeping sites.

Bedded down is taken to mean either lying down or sleeping. About to bed down includes those

who are sitting in/on or standing next to a sleeping bag or other bedding. The intention is to

establish that they are or will be rough sleeping on the night of the count. Research has found that

in many areas people seen drinking in the street or begging (even if they have a blanket or a

sleeping bag) are not necessarily sleeping rough and they should not be included unless they are

clearly bedded down or about to bed down at the time of the count.

All those who fall into this definition should be counted, regardless of nationality or eligibility for

public funds.

Further guidance details can be found on the link below;

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Arms Wide Open - Christmas Hampers

This year the theme of the Christmas services at King's Church London is 'Arms Wide Open' and as a practical demonstration of the theme we are going to be providing Hampers for families who are in need.  The main distribution will be through the Lewisham social services teams who are working with children at risk and those on protection.  One of the social services managers said "please thank the church for thinking of our families".  Until I met with one of the staff I had no idea how many families are in this position.  I know that the hampers will go to some very needy people.

Here is the plan for how people are going to provide hampers.  Very shortly we will produce a 'shopping list' which will be a mixture of everyday essentials plus Christmas treats.  And my dream is that groups of friends or families or people in community groups or perhaps in your work place will get together and buy the items so that they can fill a box and bring that to King's Church (Catford, Lee or Downham) on the 4th and 11th December.  Perhaps you can tell me your story of how you get involved in producing a hamper, perhaps it is your football team or knitting group, your youth group or community group.

But you don't have to provide a whole hamper.  It may be that people bring only a few items or part of a hamper and that will work great because people can bring their items to King's on the 4th and 11th December and add it together with other part hampers to make whole ones.  It means everyone can get involved whether it is one tin or one whole hamper.

The Hampers will have a message that reads "Happy Christmas, with love from King's Church". 

Look out for the information that is being given out in the next few weeks.  This is going to be a brilliant way of demonstrating our Arms are Wide Open to people in need this Christmas.