Saturday, 14 July 2012

Besom in Camberley – Changing Lives

The Besom are a local charity who specialise in providing food packs and other items to those in need locally. They work with local churches, who provide a support network of collection points, where various items may be dropped off.

Camberley Besom have reported an exceptionally busy few months leading up to June, with a massive increase in referrals. In the first four months of 2011 they received 7 referrals and gave out 15 packs in response. In the first four months of this year they received 40 referrals and gave out 132 Packs – an average of 4 packs per referral. This six-fold increase in demand highlights the increased difficulties faced by the local community in Camberley.

Graph showing the percentage

The Church Urban Fund recently performed a survey on poverty in the UK. They found stark contrasts across the town. Camberley has the least deprived, and most deprived parishes in the diocese of Guildford. For example, the Old Dean (parish of St Martins) ranks 164 out of 165 parishes in the Guildford diocese. This means that this parish is just about the most deprived parish in the diocese. In contrast, Heatherside ranks 1 out of 165, making it the least deprived.

To get an idea of how some of the most deprived people are living in the area, I’d like to paint a picture for you. Imagine moving into a new home with just your clothes and a couple of boxes. You are confronted by one bare room and shared  facilities. The room has no carpet, no curtains, no furniture or any of the basic things that make up a home. You may have lost your job, your home and spent weeks living in very basic accommodation or sleeping on a friend’s sofa. You may be on your own or struggling to provide for your family. You have nothing, and no money to buy what you need. Life is not good. This is the reality for many people living in Camberley who the charity help out.

Now imagine walking into that same room. You have been told all that you need will be provided by the local churches, but your expectations are low. All you expect are well used goods that someone no longer wants. What you get is decent furniture and a fridge, new bedding and towels, a kettle and toaster, food and all the essentials you need to get you started, plus a few treats.

St. Vincent De Paul Society and The Besom in Camberley act as a bridge between local churches who donate to the charities, and those in need, to meet all those basic needs. People feel valued and their self-esteem is lifted, and lives are changed. These charities work closely with Frontline in Camberley, who provide free debt and benefit advice. All three charities are staffed by volunteer members of local churches, and partly funded by them.

For more information on Camberley Besom, or to get in contact with them, you can email camberleybesom@gmail.com or phone             07543 319921