Hundreds turn out to Celebrate Norwich and Norfolk event

The Celebrate Norfolk event at the Forum in Norwich

The Celebrate Norfolk event at the Forum in Norwich - Credit: Archant

Christians in action in their communities came together regardless of denomination at the Forum as more than 30 local organisations joined forces.

The Celebrate Norfolk event at the Forum in Norwich

The Celebrate Norfolk event at the Forum in Norwich - Credit: Archant

Now in its eight year, Celebrate Norwich and Norfolk has traditionally been held in the city, but this year were hosted by Norwich and Kings Lynn for the first time.

The exhibition came to the Forum after project director of Celebrate Norwich and Norfolk John Betts decided they should enter the public arena.

'With many of them faith motivates them and there are hundreds of volunteers they serve unstintingly,' he said. 'People are sometimes unaware of what goes on because they are targeted in certain functions, like food banks. The people who do this are all church members somewhere, and when they meet up here they work together very happily without worrying about denomination or background.'

Manning one of the stands was Eldred Willey, of the Matthew Project, who have recently relaunched their volunteer strategy.

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'We now have the experts to deal with people using drugs but what we are focusing on now is the journey to recovery,' he said. 'When someone gets free from the addiction we need to re-engage them in the community. 'The church has an amazing reach across the community and is embedded across Norfolk. If we rolled back 150 years it would have been the church which is responding to social needs and those people falling off the edge of society.'

Marie Reavey, branch leader for the Norfolk Christian Police Association, added working in partnership with churches brought huge benefit to her job.

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'We have got street pastors and town pastors who do an amazing job, and that is a classic example of the church and the police working well together,' she said. 'We have Christians going out on the streets caring for vulnerable people who may not be the responsibility of the police, and we go along to their meetings and spend some time giving them advice and help with their training. 'The church as a third sector are doing a significant amount of good, and as Christians in the police we have a better understanding of what the church can offer.'

Rebekah Manfield is a church and tenant empowerment worker for Hope into Action, which sprang up five yeasr ago to give accommodation to homeless people, with five houses in Norwich and two more on the way.

'We realise that actually to help a homeless person we have to go deeper and we wanted to make sure churches were doing their bit for helping the homeless,' she said.

'We are faith-based but not faith-biased. We know we have to help people in need holistically and that is what we try to do. Once they feel loved, everything else falls into place. It is enabling and empowering them to be independent.'

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