Dundee Street and Club Chaplains recently won STAR Awards Dundee Safer Streets Award. Many thanks to all who helped make this happen.
One missed payment is all it takes to be penniless, alone and on the street — homelessness can strike at any time.
And it can affect anyone, with students increasingly falling foul of landlords, according to one of Dundee’s street chaplains.
Andy Burns, a street chaplain for Urban Impact Christian Ministries, has spent the past 16 years helping those on the city’s streets find a safe haven for the night.
He spoke to the Tele about what’s changed over the years and how his team has adapted to it, as well as a general snapshot of a night with a street chaplain.
It comes as the chaplains have released a video to show the work of the team in Dundee — A Night In The Life of a… Dundee Street Chaplain.
The video shows the chaplains talking to folk on the street, offering them hot drinks and a friendly chat.
A variety of people — including teenagers on a night out as well as the older generation — are spoken to by the volunteers throughout the night.
Andy said: “It’s fairly quiet in town at the moment — it’s always quieter after Christmas but this January is even quieter than usual.
“The main change over the 16 years I’ve been doing this in Dundee has been how much better it’s become — it used to be much worse.
“The problem we’re increasingly tackling is homelessness — and not just the people visible on the streets, there’s a hidden homeless seeping in too, people you wouldn’t expect to be in trouble.
“We’re hearing of students in particular who are left sofa surfing after not having enough of their loan left to pay rent.
“And that’s fine, as long as they have someone willing to offer a sofa, but if that disappears before the next loan comes in then their troubles really begin. We’re here to provide support and guidance to anyone in that situation.”
Andy said the quieter town centre had allowed the chaplains more time to focus on issues such as homelessness, although they still had their work cut out to keep people safe on nights out.
He added: “There’s been such improvement in the services available and the way that we all work together now.
“We have a great relationship with all the agencies involved in safety in the city.
“But legal highs are still a problem and not one we’re particularly geared up to handle.
“They were all over the city at Christmas and we kept coming across them.
“They cause us issues because of the erratic behaviour of people using them.
“We’re all well-trained and mostly experienced first aiders so we know how to deal with people on drink or even on known drugs.
“But legal highs are incredibly unpredictable and so are the people on them.
“It can actually be quite scary watching them. They’re all over the place and you have no idea what they might do. It’s definitely more an issue among students rather than older people — but it’s a dangerous one.
“We’d like some training on legal highs and how to deal with someone on them.
“Some of the legal highs make people act very crazy.
“And we are not always prepared to handle the more extreme cases.
“I’m very glad the new laws banning legal highs came in. The issue may not have got better yet, but it’s stopped getting worse.”
Andy said the Dundee Safe Zone bus was a crucial resource for the chaplains as a safe place to take people regardless of what state they are in.
He added: “The bus is invaluable to us. It gives us a base for people to come to us for help, whether it’s medical or just putting them in a taxi home. Of course, we will also call the police and an ambulance if necessary.”
A 'Jesus Loves Festivals' edition of Mark's Gospel is to be made available to festival-goers across the UK.
The special edition version of The Message is to be available at V Festival in Staffordshire, Edinburgh Festival and Leeds Festival as part of Christian based outreach.
Paul Blakey MBE, one of the coordinators of Leeds Festival Angels, explains, "When you set up church in places people don't expect it there is a often a real openness to discuss faith and spirituality. In past years at Leeds Festival we have invited people to leave prayer requests and to watch the I.Am movie which has led to discussions and people changing their concept of the Christian faith. This year we wanted to leave people with something that would help them discover more and the Jesus Loves Festivals Gospel will help do that."
The outreach at Leeds Festival last year saw around four thousand people regularly visiting the Prayer Cafe over the festival week whilst at the V Festival in Staffordshire they gave out twenty two and a half thousand cups of water.
Two thousand copies of the special edition fifty-six page Gospel have been printed and include sections on how to read the Bible, how to think critically, how to pray and an overview of the Christian message.
The Rev’d David Newsome, coordinator of the Festival Pastors team at the V Festival, says: “Last year at the V Festival we gave out 22,500 cups of water to thirsty festival goers. This special edition of St. Mark’s Gospel is a great gift to give to those who ask why we do it.”
Publisher of The Message, Dan Pape, comments, "It is so very exciting to see that the contemporary usage of English for Eugene Peterson's parishioners in Maryland is the same language that will reach many attending festivals in the UK. I pray The Message serves its purpose – to incite a curious desire for God's word"
More information on the work at music festivals is available at www.festivalnetwork.org.uk .
Sixteen volunteers became Festival Chaplains at the MoFest event in Montrose. They had a great weekend and a fantastic reception from the festival-goers.
Bishop Nigel of Brechin was out and about with the ROCK Street Chaplains Dundee recently - here are a few pictures...
We trust this letter finds you well and reflecting of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Emmanuel God with us.
Next year 2015 marks a big milestone for us as it is fifteen years since we started Urban impact Christian Ministries as a Scottish ministry and registered charity.
To everyone who supported us when we started, stood by us financially and prayed and guided us, we want to say a massive thank you.
God told us "to abide in the city" when other missionary societies wanted us to join their ranks. It's been a fantastic journey. We are still involved with children's work as School Chaplains in a number of schools in Dundee and each summer we continue to be involved in holiday Bible Clubs. We have a lot to give thanks for!
Street Chaplains started in September 2000 and, to mark our fifteenth year, we will be having a few special events. This work is truly a gift from you to the city of Dundee (and beyond!). We work in partnership with Dundee's churches, bar staff, nightclub managers, city council, Police Scotland and many individuals.
The biggest thanks though goes to our amazing team of volunteers - past and present - who have served as Street Chaplains. Without our teams on the streets this work would simply not get done. Our goal is often to simply 'love the person in front of us' be it someone who is homeless, a young person who has had one too many, an elderly person wandering the city lost and confused late at night, those who work in the thriving night-life community - we are here to share God's amazing love for them.
During 2014 we where involved in a new venture of Festival Chaplains at music festivals in Dundee, Montrose, Brechin and Edinburgh. God helped us share to Gospel with many at these events. The work of Club Chaplains continues to develop and we have made many good friendship with those working in clubs and pubs - often offering chaplaincy support outside of our night-time work. Street Chaplains continues and is now an integrated part of city life!
2015 will be a busy year (in the will of God) as we seek to continue and develop Street, Club and Festival Chaplains as well as celebrate fifteen years of work in the city. Please pray for us.
Thank you for your continued support as we trust you will have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful 2015.
Andy & Marina Burns
PS - Dundee Chaplains are part of CNI Network which is a family of over 125 projects across the UK and Spain. They have featured our work in a book "Street Angels - the amazing story from binge to better" - see www.sa-cni.org.uk/book for details.
Over forty people including five from Dundee Street Chaplains gathered at Lambeth Palace to help launch a year of celebrations for Christian based work within the night-time economy.
Christian Nightlife Initiatives (CNI) Network held an afternoon tea reception to launch 2015:10 which will see a year of celebrations around the anniversaries of 20 years of NightLight in Northern Ireland, 15 years of Street Chaplains in Scotland and 10 years of Street Angels in England.
The afternoon also launched a "Volunteers are amazing - thank you" booklet which will be given to every volunteer within the Network's 120 local projects.
Speaking at the event were representatives from the Home Office and Cabinet Office who thanked those who volunteer and spoke about the impact of our work from a national perspective.
Founder of CNI Network, Paul Blakey MBE, said of the afternoon, "This was a great occasion not only for CNI Network but also for our local projects and partners. The fact that alcohol related violence and A&E admissions are reducing year on year is part of our story that is something we aim to celebrate with those volunteer teams who are helping to make this happen."
For more information on the work of CNI Network visit www.cninetwork.org.uk
ROCK Street chaplains
This blog will keep you updated with the latest from the work and ministry of ROCK Street, Club, and Festival Chaplains.