Church Link May 2015

Welcome to our May issue - This month our Senior Chaplain, Keith Thomasson discusses the importance of spirituality within the homeless sector...

Do not be afraid

Within the Church we are celebrating the fifty days of the Resurrection season. Liturgically this is proclaimed in a myriad of ways: from greeting to scripture readings, from hymns to vestments.  I am struck by the words that appear on the lips of God’s messengers, the angels at the tomb. ‘Do not be afraid!’ They also appear frequently throughout the Scriptures. They are God’s words to us.

Within Alabaré we encounter people at a time of crisis in their lives. People who are living through the pain of their own cross, who are experiencing alienation and grieving loss of relationship and established patterns of living. Hearing those words and experiencing them in action can be a gateway to new life. Please click to continue reading...

Alabaré staff meet with new service users on arrival to help assess their needs. This leads to a care and support plan. The intention is to help them move from crisis to eventual independence, a journey that may take up to two years. This plan can help service users take responsibility, with support, as they move from a difficult place. In a way it is part of communicating, ‘do not be afraid’.

Within the homeless sector there has been a lot of recent work done around the importance of spirituality. A key document is Lost and Found (Lemos and Crane). This complements other research such as that undertaken by the Royal Society of Arts into the place of spirituality within life (their report is entitled, ‘Spiritualise’). Within the theological domain increased work is being done to train spiritual directors and pastoral supervisors in a way that reflects the growth of coaching for life elsewhere. The Roman Catholic sociologist and theologian, Diarmuid O’Murchu is one amongst many busy exploring the connections between faith and science (the universe) and working to reintegrate spirituality within the Christian tradition. These strands of development echo the encouragement, ‘do not be afraid’. Do not be afraid to pursue truth by exploring and seeking to understand life beyond imagined boundaries.  The story is told of Bishop David Jenkins who would hear the ideas and thoughts of the Durham University students about God, and then go home and pray them through, and as a result see God anew. He was not afraid, for ‘the truth will set you free.’

Defining spirituality is very difficult indeed. Its etymology has a rich connection with key faith words such as spirit, breath, wind (pneuma, ruach, spiritus) and the seeking of meaning, community, hospitality and creativity are touchstones found within the story and life of faith communities. Such explorations will also have predated identifiable faith traditions, and their presence within indigenous religions suggests the search for a rich spirituality is universal.

With this in mind Alabaré are beginning to explore Spiritual Conversations with service users to complement our initial conversations to assess needs. I am writing to ask if any of our readers and their church fellowships wish to work more directly with Alabaré to support any service users who, perhaps as a result of the spiritual conversation, wish to connect with local church communities. They may want to use the church building for reflection and prayer. They may want to simply meet people and join in the social outreach of the church community. However to do so they may need to be reassured, ‘do not be afraid’. It may also be that they will need to reassure the churches, ‘do not be afraid’ too. For in encountering one another, as in encountering the risen Jesus, we are made more whole and become less afraid.

Do please be in contact if this work appeals to you. (

Funding success

We are delighted to have secured grants from our military funders in the last month. Our homes and the support we provide for our Veterans is entirely dependent on funding and voluntary donations.

Our gratitude goes out to all. Still more funding needs to be secured for our long-term future serving our homeless Veterans, but this is wonderful boost...

Seafarers UK a £20,000 grant towards providing support to vulnerable and homeless naval veterans living in our Homes for Veterans.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) has generously granted £70,000 towards the running costs of our Homes for Veterans in Plymouth and Weymouth.

And £35,000 has been awarded by The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity to help our ex-naval residents living in our Homes for Veterans..

Vacancies at Alabaré  

We have a number of interesting and very worthwhile full-time, part-time and voluntary positions based throughout our region. Please click the link to find out more and please share this information within your networks. Thank you.

Veterans Befriender Story by Tony Moore

"I get really fed up with Facebook when you see things like “Support our Armed Forces Veterans, please ‘Like’ this”.  It is all very well just clicking the button, however, there are much better ways of supporting them like getting active and doing something!

For me it began attending a course at Alabaré in Salisbury, designed to equip me to become an Armed Forces Befriender". Click to continue reading...


The course was brilliant and when it was over I was fired up and ready to go. Then I had to wait ……. and wait ……….. for several weeks. Unbeknown to me staff were trying to engage the veterans to work with a befriender. I was on the verge of giving up when I received a call asking me to meet with Jimmy who was ‘in a bad way’.

Jimmy (52) had been invalided out of an infantry regiment. He is a rightfully proud ex-sergeant and his pride to a certain extent hampered his progress, I made a point of visiting with him every Wednesday. At first Jimmy was not very talkative and I wondered if I was making any progress at all. If he wasn’t up and about when I visited I would leave and not disturb him. This I did every Wednesday eventually he began to engage with me and we both looked forward to our weekly chat and cuppa.

What led Jimmy being in such a bad way? Whilst training in Canada in an armoured personnel carrier, the vehicle overturned leaving Jimmy under a pile of bar mines and a heavy radio. Having partially recovered from his injuries, Jimmy turned to alcohol to numb the constant pain in his lower back and became reliant on it. This was all before I had met him. He moved into an Alabaré Home for Veterans in Gosport, Hampshire after coming out of hospital following a detox program. When I met him he had suffered a stroke and his speech and balance had become impaired. Although he spoke slowly and slurred he never lost his regional accent and great sense of humour. The NHS staff were amazing and helped considerably. On several trips to the hospital we used to drive via Portsdown Hill stopping off to buy a burger and take in the view of Portsmouth, the Harbour and Isle of Wight. As Jimmy’s health and welfare improved we went on shopping trips to the local town which usually ended up in Burger King. 

Jimmy was able to purchase a mobility scooter which gave him more independence, he started to engage with his family who lived in Ireland, and even managed to visit them. This led him to make the decision to move back to his homeland. Together with Alabaré staff we worked to help Jimmy move to Ireland to lead the rest of his life surrounded by family and friends. I miss him. However we remain friends via Facebook and it is so very satisfying to hear that his regimental colleagues are rallying around and he is where he wants to be.

I am now befriending a couple of veterans that live in Gosport, I take these veterans out on a weekly basis, visiting the local military attractions that we are lucky to have in our area. We usually end up going for a cuppa and a chat and I get to know their life stories which are always interesting. I look forward to my weekly visits with the veterans.

Being a befriender is incredibly rewarding, it is about going at their pace and listening to them. On a personal level befriending has given me a sense of contributing to someone else and helping them move forward. There are mixed emotions when someone is able to move on into independence and no longer need your support, however there are others – plenty of others, needing support just waiting in all the Alabaré Homes for Veterans.

Tony can’t do this alone please do join the team and volunteer become a befriender, you will be glad you did. Call us: 01722 322882.

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