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UK News

How a church's shipping container is helping with bereavement in Telford

by Kelly Valencia

A church in Telford has placed a 16-foot-long former shipping container next to its building to serve as a bereavement hub.

In Partnership with PRISM community bereavement services, Telford Elim Community Church is offering the space to support those who are struggling with grief.

The container provides additional space for small support sessions and craft groups.

Speaking to Premier, Pastor Leslie Burke from Telford Elim Community Church explained why he thought that using a former shipping container to do practical activities would be helpful, particularly for men.

“They enjoy working. There's something about it. It's very tactile. Men open up more when they're working than at any other point. And so that was an important part of our ethos and why the church leadership team are fully behind it.”

The container is part of a wider programme that the church has been running with PRISM since 2019. Headed by Sue Jinks, a member of the church, PRISM was set up following the suicide of Jinks´ son. She told Premier she felt God was guiding her to set up something to provide support for those experiencing grief.

“I just felt that if I could speak to other people that had gone through the same…it would have helped me,” Jinks said.

“I knew that God wanted me to serve doing something with bereavement. I prayed about the name. What he gave me was the word PRISM and Isaiah 46:16: ‘I will turn the darkness before them into light.’ And that it just sealed it,” Jinks continued.

Although PRISM is independent from the church, most of its staff are Christians. The organisation supports people of all ages who are grieving by providing a safe space to be vulnerable or to just sit and be with someone who can empathise with them.

For Pastor Burke, PRISM represents a “kingdom opportunity” where God can work in the midst of all the grief.

“Even though it's not overtly Christian…those who are a part of the peer support are Christians. They bring their heart, they bring who they are, the light of Christ shines through them. And because it's also been held mostly in the church, for those who are coming to the groups, there's an appreciation of that,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many to suffer directly and has prevented others from saying goodbye to their loved ones. Suicide rates have also risen dramatically during the pandemic, Jinks said.

“We've had a growth with our children and young people. Huge growth as we went from one school to 13. A lot of them have been through grief and loss that they've probably had prior to Covid. Some have had loss during Covid.”

Jinks continued: “The groups that we've run have kept on going, and they'll all tell you, they've been a lifeline. Knowing that three times a week, you know, we're online.”

For both Pastor Burke and Jinks, it is really important to be praying for people to be made aware that there is help out there.

“[We need] prayer to lead them to services that will support them, that they're not on their own at this time…that God covers and protects them, and he walks with them,” Jinks said.

“I think we should pray for the recognition that it affects young and old equally and therefore to pray that even through tough and dark days, that God would bring grace into the heart of our society. There's a lot of people out there helping, but suicide particularly, as well as other grief is quite often a hidden thing. [We pray] that God would bring it to the surface,” Pastor Burke concluded.

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