The Folkestone Baptist Church supervises and supports the activities of the East Folkestone Community Development Worker. Since 2009 The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust has funded his activities in order for them to continue to benefit the community. As well as the community development worker, a large team of volunteers has also been assembled to help with the various activities.
The weekly ‘Community Hot Lunches’ provide nutritious, but low cost meals and also bring people together and is supported by a team of volunteer cooks. Food is purchased from the FareShare charity and the church relies on donations to cover the cost as there is no funding in the budget for this.
Other community events include activities in the community for young people (including the Apollo Boys Club and The Craft Club for girls), quiz nights to bring people together, getting involved with Shepway Neighbourhood Watch, preventing loneliness and isolation, and supporting development of the East Cliff Playground. The community development worker also supports environmental improvements in the area, mainly through advertising the Dallas Brett Memorial Garden Beds and holding community meetings with the Devlin’s Babies Memorial Garden committee.
Improving mental health and wellbeing is an important aspect of work for the community development worker, in particular related to the Wellbeing Hub, but he has also assisted a range of other people needing support with self-esteem and mental health who call into the office at the Baptist Church. He also works with the Shepway Spectrum Arts charity, through their ‘Supporting Lives’ initiative, to provide help and advice to their clients who have a range of disabilities. ‘Activate’ sessions in the main hall at Folkestone Baptist Church are intended to promote physical and mental health, as well as weekly health walks.
Lastly, the community development worker provides advice and assistance with employment, debt, benefits and poverty, in partnership with other organisations such as Folkestone Works, a team of volunteers called Money Matters, the Citizens Advice Bureau, KCC Response and MIND. He regularly provides ‘digital mentoring’ to people who have poor digital skills to help them with their job applications. For people really struggling with poverty the community development worker helps people with food parcels/foodbank vouchers, arranges support for people through pastoral funds and has also provided direct financial support to meet immediate needs by raising money for people through a small charity called ACTS 435.