Each Thursday morning a group of volunteers at the Cathedral Coffee Shop make breakfasts, hot drinks and offer a warm welcome to those in need. As I make my way to work, it is the welcoming aroma of toast and cooked breakfast that surrounds the building and reminds me of what day of the working week it is. One recent Thursday morning, I saw a young man in a sleeping bag near to the Cathedral – he didn’t ask me for anything and I simply said hello and walked on. With the smell of toast and bacon in the air, I went back to him to mention that if he was in need of a hot meal or drink, then he would be made welcome at the coffee shop. He thanked me and I went on my way. I popped into the coffee shop just to let one of the volunteers know this young man was nearby. As I continued on my way, I could see one of the volunteers going out to look for this young man – something she promised to do.
We can all find ourselves caught up in the busyness of our own lives, fretting about our ever growing to do list and worrying about where we will find enough time. For me on that particular morning, I was doing just that and my encounter left me with a definite feeling that God just gave me that gentle tug that was needed.
With the advance of social media and 24/7 news reports, we hear immediately of disasters and suffering in so many distant places – the recent reports of over half a million people fleeing Myanmar, with reporters able to broadcast this human tragedy as it happens. The financial response to the DEC Appeal has seen £15m being raised so far. Such events as these need a tremendous amount of resource to make any real difference – as individuals we can often question what difference am I able to make through my efforts alone?
Our faith tells us that we all belong to the same human family – our response to this tragedy and others enables us to uphold the respect and dignity of the human person, regardless of their faith, race, colour or culture.
Julie Ridgway, Head of Finance for the Diocese of Gloucester.