A Church of England vicar is embarking on a quirky community fundraising project that he hopes will raise thousands to support a vocational training centre for people with disabilities.
Reverend Clive Main leads St Barnabas Homerton, in east London, which is surrounded by 725 perimeter railings. Being a former missionary, he was inspired by Church Mission Society's 'Two-gether for Mission' fundraising campaign, marking the 222nd anniversary since the organisation was founded. So, he decided to pick up his brush and paint and he estimates the task will take until October to complete.
Rev Main served as a CMS mission partner in DR Congo from 1985 to 1992 and has continued to support CMS ever since. He explained how its anniversary inspired him to start a unique community fundraising initiative:
"Remembering that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, I started to scrape and paint the first railings, and as I did so, I got the inspiration.
"It's tedious work - three hours to scrape 40 railings, two-and-a-half hours to paint them, but we're managing to paint at least 40 railings a week and more than half are now completed."
He is being helped by a church member and because the railings face the high street, Rev Main has become a visible presence, and all sorts of people stop to chat about the project and even shout encouragement.
Rev Main's efforts have so far raised over £4,000, including Gift Aid:
"I have been amazed and humbled by the response. People have contributed from far and near. I've never done anything like this before. People like the idea that there's something useful to show for it, as well as money raised for a great cause."
The money raised will go primarily to support Neema Crafts, a CMS supported training centre in Tanzania for people with disabilities. Comprising seven different workshops, a cafe, conference room and guesthouse, the centre provides education, vocational training and employment for people who would otherwise be discarded by society and left to beg on the streets for a living. St Barnabas have supported this project for over 10 years.
Jim Barker, Director of Fundraising at Church Mission Society, said:
"Clive's effort is a great example of the imagination, humility and faithful dedication characterised by CMS missionaries over 222 years. All of the CMS community is with you - praying for you, painting with you [in spirit] and willing you on, as you take on this epic challenge."