Becky Hurst: Conversation Cafe, St Andrew's, Crewe

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Four churches in Crewe are benefitting from the work of a Community Development Worker who is identifying new ways to serve the local community. Becky Hurst works across four churches and has been in the role for one year. Already her influence is helping the Church reach new communities.

She says: “My job is about helping the churches to engage with their local community, looking at where there are opportunities and available resources and matching them up.”

At St Andrew’s, Crewe, an opportunity arose out of an increase in the number of refugees and asylum seekers coming into the local area. The church wanted to respond by supporting them, many of whom were coming to the country with little knowledge of the English language.

St Andrew’s church decided to open its doors every Thursday afternoon and host a Conversation Cafe: a place where people can come and learn English in a relaxed and informal environment where they are free to make mistakes.

Becky says: “The majority of people who come are refugees and asylum seekers who have moved into the Crewe area. That’s something that’s happened quite recently. This is one of the ways that we’re supporting these people. Part of my role is looking at how we can build on this but also make sure that we’re coordinating with the other churches in the area.”

However, asylum claims can take a long time to process and the help they need is testing the Conversation Cafe volunteers.

Becky and her team help claimants with their English but also find themselves liaising with solicitors and the local authorities on their behalf.

Conversation Café volunteer, Marta Jones, explains: “[One of the asylum seekers] has to be in Manchester to appeal against being deported, but he doesn’t understand English sufficiently to be able to deal with it and we’re asked to deal with these sorts of things all of the time."

Becky’s role is funded by parishes within the deanery – mainly St Peter’s Minshull Vernon and St Mary’s Nantwich. She says: “My role is actually funded by other parishes which are able to put a bit of resource into an area that is seen as needing a bit of extra support. It’s really exciting that there are not just the four churches but others involved too. They get the report on what I’m doing and support me in prayer as well.”

For Becky, stepping outside of the church boundary is at the heart of her ministry and where her passion lies. She says: “For me, the church is not something that can be held in by the walls and God is not confined by the bricks and mortar of the church buildings. I’m really passionate about seeing the church, seeing the congregation, seeing people engaging with the world outside and seeing where we can make a difference and seeing where we can actually work alongside other people to improve things and see those glimpses of the kingdom.”


Two ladies from Ethiopia with a Conversation Cafe volunteer
Robson, also from Ethiopia.