Churches are the beating heart of Hope into Action’s work. The support and friendship they offer can be transformational; empowering people to make positive changes.

Fishponds Baptist Church in Bristol supports a number of houses in the city. Since finding out about Hope into Action
while in rehab back in 2017, tenant Leo has turned his life around:

‘When I finally got clean in 2020, I moved into the Hope into Action house and my whole life began to change. Instead of being judgemental, they were supportive, understanding and kind to me.’ ‘Having been neglected as a child, I truly believed there was something wrong with me; that I was just bad. It was like a secret I carried all my life and using drugs numbed the pain. Counselling helped me to understand that it was a false belief and I got a huge sense of freedom and release when I let go of it – I couldn’t believe it was gone!’

‘I volunteer at the Food Bank and I love it. I also do the ‘Soup Run’ with Fishponds, serving food to 50-80 people on the streets. Having been homeless before, I can relate to what people are going through and I make a point of talking to them.’ ‘I recommend any new tenant (especially in the early stages of recovery) get involved in voluntary work. Being a valued part of a team is good for your self-esteem and ‘the devil makes work for idle hands’ so volunteering can also help you resist the temptation to slip back into old, unhelpful habits.’

‘Since moving into the Hope into Action house, I’ve been baptised and joined a Christian 12-Step programme. I’ve reconnected with my brother and friends, who were relieved that I finally got clean. At 56, I know that the best is yet to come.’

Member of Fishponds and Hope into Action mentor, Nicola Smith, describes her experience:

‘When first considering becoming a mentor, I felt inadequate; I didn’t want to let anyone down – especially my mentee. Before moving Celebrating the Church to Bristol, Sam had spent 10 months in rehab with Teen Challenge. He’s just 23; around the same age as my children.’ ‘We met just before the second national lockdown at the end of October 2020, which was really hard. We walked every week (I would pray for dry weather!) so we could meet in person rather than talking on the phone.’

‘Sam’s good company, and is a blessing to me. I pray for him every day, and ask for wisdom to know how best to support him. There are times when I still feel inadequate, but I am myself and let God do the rest.’ ‘Being Sam’s mentor has deepened my faith; it’s made me more reliant on God, trusting that He will give me wisdom to guide and advise. I’m constantly reminded of how amazing God’s grace is, it’s a wonderful thing.’ ‘If you get the opportunity to be a Hope into Action mentor, don’t pass it up – it’s probably the most rewarding thing you will do.’

While volunteering at the Food Bank at Fishponds, Peter Bowen was encouraged to become a mentor:

‘Before becoming a mentor with Hope into Action I’d been thinking for years ‘…it’s all very well going along every Sunday, but there must be more that needs doing’! I think serving people in this way satisfies an internal longing that we all have; which is that we want to help other people.’ ‘I’ve been a mentor with Hope into Action since the end of 2019 and I’ve never regretted it. It’s been an education for me; at 74, I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone and ‘unlearn’ a lot of stuff. There’s no job description; each mentee is unique, so your role as their mentor will be unique.’
‘You can’t make any assumptions about people until you’ve got to know them personally.

So many people have had a bad beginning in life, like Rick* who I meet with once a week for an hour or so. Having sought solace in drink and drugs in the past, Rick got into difficulty again following two very significant bereavements that happened very close together.’ ‘It’s so important to be consistent; if I say I’m going to meet Rick, I meet him. I listen carefully to what he says, try to get alongside him and encourage him to do the right thing. When he makes progress, I feel over the moon!’

‘It’s such a joy to see someone fulfil their potential – especially when you suspect that they had written themselves off. I hope that I’ve given Rick hope that he can make something
of the rest of his life.’

‘I hope to continue serving Christ in a meaningful way for years to come. As friends approach retirement, I encourage them to get involved and lend their support; after all, we can’t change the world by ourselves, but if we all just do our bit, we can!’

If you would like to read other amazing stories from our Annual Review, click here to view online. If you would like a physical copy posted to you then please email [email protected]