Friday, 29 June 2012

Empowering people - the spice is right!

On Sunday the Jericho Road Project cycling team which is myself and 4 others take on the challenge of the North Kent bikeathon run by our friends at Compton Cycles and Catford rotary. The distances are 25km, 50km or 100km.  The 100K course has 5042ft of climbing, Kent is a hilly place!  If you know Westerham Hill, it is a tough climb and comes at about the 85km mark.

It has been important to me that our fundraising initiatives model what we are trying to achieve which is to empower people.  Therefore our summer activities have been people from the project taking part, we also try to put the bar low on giving, i.e. £1 per person which means that all those taking part can ask everyone to contribute.  So whether it is £1 or lots of £1's, we are investing our funds into initiatives that don't give handouts but help empower people to get control of their lives and benefit others.  No longer recievers but contributors!

Let me illustrate this with a story that I love from our drop-in meeting which is called the Feast which has had its busiest year with numbers exceeding 100 on a number of occasions and this meant that we provided over 4000 3-course meals to the neediest people.

Jack came to the Feast, he was an expert at complaining about all the things people hadn’t done for him – especially the benefit department and support agencies.  For roughly the 1st 6 months he attended the Feast he simply sat, ate and moaned. Then one evening he started helping nand contributing, he began by emptying the bins and now he does this every week as well as collecting the dirty plates and crockery returning them to the kitchen.  The amazing thing is I do not hear him complain about anything.  In fact when he is thanked for his help, he is so delighted and expresses gratitude for the encouragement.  

Let me tell you about one of cyclists.  Brian spent 26 years in prison - he caused so much trouble inside jail that he was frequently put in solitude and was refused paroel on a number of occasions.  He became a Christian in prison and he tells me that everyone knew because his behaviour changed so much.  He was then granted parole and he left prison with a job that he continues to do.  He is keen to help the lives of others which is why he is tking part in this year's Bikeathon.

Our plans in the next few months include starting the King's Debt Advice centre which helps people regain control of their finances.  This will start in September 2012.

We are partnering with agencies who are engaged in providing work opportunites.  We have some ideas that we are hoping to roll out in the next few months.  Did you see that one of our residents has won an award for her new business, read the Lewisham Mercury article here. Well done Marie -  the spice is right!.  It's called Mama-Marie chilli sauce and you can still see her on the stand at Lewisham Shopping centre until the 19th July. 

If you would like to sponsor the Bikeathon or support the Jericho Road Project financially or in other ways please contact

Look out for the bikeathon pictures on twitter @simonjohnallen or on the twitter feed on the side of this blog.