Church's 'Blue Monday' scheme launches to tackle problems of South Tyneside's vulnerable

The third Monday of 2022 saw the launch of a South Tyneside project tackling loneliness, isolation, household debt and mental health issues.

On what is called “Blue Monday” as it it supposedly the most depressing day of the year, a group of churches began working together on a new project, Places of Welcome Plus. It was formally opened and blessed by the Right Reverend Sarah Clark, Bishop of Jarrow.

The scheme is funded by Christian organisation, Lord Crewe’s Charity, marking the charity’s 300th anniversary. It forms part of the wider church response to helping individuals and families get back on their feet following covid.

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It grew out of listening to people and their concerns and needs at the height of the pandemic.

From left: Deputy mayoress Cllr Lynn Blair, Rt Revd Sarah Clark, Bishop of Jarrow, deputy, mayor Cllr Joe Amar, the Venerable Bob Cooper, Archdeacon of Sunderland, Cllr Moira Smith, Jacki Dunn lay pastoral minister, Paul Baldasera from South Tyneside Council and Revd Lesley Jones.

Help and support will be offered through a network of Places of Welcome Plus drop-ins, which offer safe places to go, a listening ear and an opportunity to get involved. No money is needed and refreshments are free.

Starting in February the drop-ins will allow people to access the Community Money Advice Connect Centre’s Free Help with Debt service, and/or meet up with a mental health first aider.

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Drop-ins open 11am to 1pm weekly: Mondays, Action Station, Boldon Lane, South Shields; Tuesdays, St Peter’s Church Centre, York Avenue, Jarrow; Wednesdays, St Simon’s Church, Wenlock Road, Simonside; Thursdays, St John the Baptist’s Church Hall, Nairn Street, Jarrow.

Bishop Sarah said: “We all know that when life is hard, and life is hard at the moment, one struggle leads to another and anyone can easily feel alone, stuck, not knowing where to turn.

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The Rt Revd Sarah Clark, Bishop of Jarrow at the launch of Places of Welcome Plus.

“Places of Welcome are safe places to turn to, with people who will welcome everyone who drops in and those who want to be part of the answer.

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“They are a gift to people in South Tyneside made possible by local people seeing what is needed and a local charity, Lord Crewe’s Charity, listening and making a difference through its Tercentennial Grant. It is a pleasure to be part of the launch.”

Reverend Lesley Jones, rector of Jarrow and Simonside, said: “With all the uncertainty and isolation many have come to realise just how important it is for us all to work together to support one another.

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For more information, or to volunteer, contact Nikita on 07555 406 416, or email [email protected]

Volunteers Barbara Bradley and Dorothy Lamb at the launch.
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