Where hope is found
Charissa King discovers awardwinning community
service in Rhyl
Two weeks before the UK lockdown, a Welsh town centre faced a different kind of confinement. A gunman was on the loose in Rhyl, Denbighshire. Police cordoned off the central area to investigate. At the same time, a group met at the United Church in Rhyl’s chapel. In the midst of danger, they sang ‘In Christ alone, my hope is found’.
This is a church that is used to finding hope in difficult circumstances. Adjoining its worship space is the ASK Centre, whose name alludes to Jesus’ appeal for Christians to ask, seek and knock. There, volunteers provide much-needed community services, including a Citizens Advice service, an emergency foodbank and the Living Hope Coffee Shop, which offers hot drinks and meals on a ‘pay what you can’ basis. Most services provided by the ASK Centre are delivered by volunteers, around 15 of them from the church. It jointly won the URC’s Community Project Award, and £2,000, in 2018.
While the Revd Paul Robinson (pictured above, left), Minister of the United Church in Rhyl, gives me the tour, I get a sense of why the Centre’s services are so desperately needed, despite the idyllic seaside setting. Last November, a Welsh government index named two areas of Rhyl as the country’s most deprived. The town tackles county lines drug gang activity, along with homelessness and poverty. ‘A few weeks ago, I took the funeral for one of the homeless guys who used to come here,’ Paul says. ‘This is the community we live in. It’s a beautiful place. It’s where the church needs to be.’…
The ASK Centre was recognised in the 2018 United Reformed Church Community Project Awards, sponsored by Congregational. Charissa King is Reform’s Production and Marketing Officer
This is an extract from an article that was published in the June 2020 edition of Reform