The New Place

Goodbye…. July 20, 2008

Filed under: Community — charityhamilton @ 12:27 pm

If you had’nt realised yet I’m leaving The New Place! My leaving service and lunch are at The New Place on Sunday 31st August at 10.45 am – please email us and let us know if you’re coming.

Dawn is to be the new centre manager and Heather Leppard has been appointed as the new fresh expressions worker, so this will become Heather’s blog!

I’m going to be blogging back at


March 20, 2008

Filed under: Spiritual Stuff — charityhamilton @ 10:13 pm


Mary, Mother of God,

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death…

what were you thinking as your Son drew close to death?

Did you feel afraid for him, scared of his suffering?

Holy Mary, full of grace,

Did you worry about life without him?

Did you begin to feel alone?

Holy Mary, full of grace, blessed are you among women,

and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

Did you question God and the so called plan he had?

Did you think back to the day you knew you were pregnant?

Hail Mary full of grace,

full of fear,

full of grief,

full of doubt,

full of hope?


We’re famous! / Easter Eggs March 17, 2008

Filed under: Community,New Place — charityhamilton @ 5:17 pm

Well not really but tonights local news will feature the discussions between various community leaders, the MP, the police etc about prostitution in Eastville and it was all filmed in The New Place – we painted the blue cloudy wall you’ll see. I’ve yabbered on about prostitution so many times on this blog, I’m not going to do it again, surfice to say none of the girls who work outside were invited today, and if they had turned up would they have been welcome? There are many points of view but its important to hear, and understand them all in this debate.

Easter Eggs! – if anyone wants to buy an extra easter egg this year and donate to The New Place, so that I can distribute amongst the kids that would be fabulous; drop it off at the New Place any day before 1pm. Thanks.


Examples? March 16, 2008

Filed under: Community,Spiritual Stuff,Spirituality,Wesley — charityhamilton @ 12:04 am

Alistair Darling has fabulous eye brows, it cannot be denied. His budget was a little less fabulous. But the part of it which has been a subject of conversation for me this week has been the extra money folk will have to pay for their beer.

I’m an almost tea totaller. This means that about every six months I have a glass of wine or half a cider, on a very special occasion I’ll have a couple of drinks. But the rest of the time I dont drink alcohol. I don’t know how I ended up as an almost tea totaller, there was no moral reason or health reason, I just don’t really drink. The thing is the more time goes by the more it becomes an issue for me. As a nearly young person I often get asked in churches, why do young people drink to oblivion, what can we do to solve the problem of young people binge drinking?!

Obviously the first answer is not all the young people are drinking to oblivion. The second response I give is that we need to take some responsibility for the examples we are setting, because regardless of class or social setting I’ve watched countless adults choose to drink to relax and have fun, and often they do it responsibly but still they then give a message to our young people that what you do to relax and have fun is drink, and for a twelve year old its difficult to know how to drink ‘responsibly’.

How do we solve the problem? I don’t know if we can. I do know that we’ve made drinking alcohol totally acceptable, and I know that we have shown young people that alcohol is associated with relaxation, friends, socialising and fun. I know that we’ve show young people that drinking is ok. And I’m not for a moment saying its not okay to drink, I believe we all have the right to make a choice – just as I choose to smoke ciggerettes.  But I am saying that perhaps we need to lead by example and show young people other ways of relaxing, having a good time; showing other ways of feeling confident and happy other than alcohol.

I guess I’m saying that when an intelligent woman with a glass of wine in her hand asks me ‘what do we do about the problem of young people and alcohol’ and then proceeds with a group of other intelligent adults to binge drink their way through the evening, I have to hold my hands up and say this isn’t a culture I want to be part of.

Its not Alistair Darlings pennies on a pint that will stop people drinking excessively, its having a little self respect.


Weekend Things October 28, 2007

Filed under: Community — charityhamilton @ 9:35 pm

We held our table top sale on Saturday and it was an interesting experience. On one hand it was hugely successful because we made a good wodge of money for The New Place. On the other hand very few people came in.

It’s the perenial problem of putting on ‘open’ events in a church – sometimes people show up and some times they don’t; and when they don’t people who have spent ages organising it feel disappointed.

In the area where the New Place is, there isn’t a whole lot of passing trade – its not a busy high street like staple hill. But we do have a lot of groups and individuals involved in The New Place and as Dawn rightly asks ‘why didn’t they come along?’. I can only guess on a few levels; for many people The New Place is associated with the specific group they go to and the specific people they come to meet, an alcohol addiction recovery group, a mental health group etc many of those people are particularly vulnerable and so just walking in to something like that might be scarey for them.  For some people Saturday may be the only day they get contact with their kids, and particularly at the end of half term. Some people, particularly elderly people might’ve wanted to come but were nervous about the weather and being outside in it.

There are probably millions of reasons why people don’t turn up for something you put time into organising, each reason for each different person will be equally valid but I know that doesn’t make you feel any better.

I think over the years what I’ve come to realise about The New Place is that the concept of ‘community’ is key, fundamental, the most essential aspect of what we’re trying to do. And community starts small and grows bigger. It never grows huge but it grows a little bigger, bit by bit and more importantly it growns more solid and dependable. So for me yesterday may not have brought hundreds of people through the door but it was another little step on the way to making us a closer, stronger community unit. A group of people who individually couldn’t do some of the things on which we enbark, but together can do almost anything.

I try to look at things through these eyes – evaluating what happens at The New Place according to how it effected, encouraged, grew or built up community because if we looked at things according to profit or numbers we’d be eternally dissappointed. With these ‘community’ eyes I can only see yesterday as a soaring success.

It was a day when each of us played a little part in doing something together, a day when some of us got to practise being in charge, and some of us got to practise running a cafe; a day when our volunteers got to build their confidence and when our neighbours got to see through the windows a group of people working together, being together and supporting each other.

I give the day 10/10


School Plays and Lazy Days October 19, 2007

Filed under: Community — charityhamilton @ 7:40 pm

I went to May Park yesterday to watch L, and some other kids involved at The New Place in their end of half term school play.

Each class did something, drumming, a rap, poems and other such creative things. I am often in awe of the creativity of children, I have to sometimes remind myself to be more like that, and less like the fogy, busy, uncreative person adulthood has tried to make me.

I remember being about eleven years old and my church minister, Neil Johnson coming to watch me in a school concert. I remember being chuffed that he had turned up for me, and I’ve kind of kept this in my head as I’ve engaged more and more with children, young people and families.

What mattered to me as a child and young person in the church wasn’t the sermon or the children’s address, what mattered was that someone turned up at key moments and showed me that they cared for me and valued me. Whilst being chuffed at the time, the significance wasn’t apparent.

It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I looked back on my journey of faith, and my journey mentally and I realised the huge impact the church had on me as a young person, even though often I had pushed it away.

If all the work at The New Place fails, if we close down all of our projects, if we don’t break even will it matter too much? because a handful of kids might get to their twenties and remember that the church turned up for their school play, that the church valued them and thought them of worth and they might be reminded of the call of God in their lives and they might turn up for someone’s school play too.

I’ve never claimed to be a children’s worker or anything like that, but the more that children and families become part of the work at The New Place; the more I am relearning what it is to be like a child. I don’t mean this in some weak and patronising way, but the energy, creativity and hope that children have gets lost somewhere in our growing up. Yet I feel very much that as adults we seek so strongly an identity because we seek worth and value, what we have to learn from children is that value does not come in what we do or how well we perform but simply in the fact that because we are human others will turn up and clap at our efforts without marking them out with a set of standards or expectations.




Community Cafe

Filed under: Community — charityhamilton @ 7:39 pm

We opened our community café at The New Place, for the first time on Wednesday. It was fantastic. Some people popped in as they were walking by, some folk from parent and toddler came, some folk from groups at The New Place came along.

As well as offering something to our local community both in The New Place and in the neighbourhood; hopefully the café will also offer something to those involved in running it. Our volunteers are brilliant and worked their socks off, some of them never believing they would be able to do anything like this, some of them never being given the opportunity to do anything like this. They rocked, as only New Place folk can do.

J co-ordinated the whole thing with enthusiasm and precision, and she did that rarely found thing of taking the time to encourage and nurture the people she was working with so that they felt confident, valued and of worth. Her sense of enthusiastic engagement with the project became infectious.

The food was fantastic; toasties, jacket potatoes, sandwiches etc. It was all presented with real care. It didn’t need to be said, but was obvious that we cared about physical nurture and putting good stuff into our bodies.

I love these times when we do stuff together, its always stuff which on the surface seems simple and everyday but which touches at a far deeper level. It brings up to the surface feelings about community, team work, mutual care and inter-dependency; it reminds and re-establishes the underlying ethos of the New Place, an ethos which demands love for one another – the known and the stranger, for in such people we meet with God.

I have these moments at The New Place when things just ‘click’ and I have to go and lock my office door for five minutes while I take a deep breath and grasp the reality of a radical gospel being lived in the most unlikely place; in this case some funny little building on the corner of a red light district. I can’t fathom how anyone else can be enjoying their jobs out there, because I have the best job in the whole wide world.