Bishops back appeal to help farming charity and hospital in Gaza

_MG_8132 Gaza-Al_Ahli_hospitalA charity that helps farming families struggling with stress and isolation, and a hospital that treats patients in one of the world’s most dangerous locations will benefit from this year’s Lent Appeal in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

Living and working in the countryside might sound idyllic but there are hidden stresses and strains that affect farming families, who are often isolated and spend the vast majority of their time working alone.

That’s where Nottinghamshire Rural Support comes in, helping farmers and others who are struggling because of poor harvests, livestock disease, cash flow crises, paperwork, loneliness and family breakdown.

NRS provides volunteers who walk with people who are struggling, listening and providing guidance which often helps them to find their own way through their problems. When necessary, professional support can be introduced.

The charity also helps to provide farmers with a free health screening clinic at Newark Livestock Market, which offers advice and basic health tests; since the clinic opened more than 250 farmers and their staff have received advice or been tested for conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

The Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza provides expert medical care in a region devastated by years of conflict, where thousands of men, women and children feel isolated from the rest of the world, many bearing  mental and physical scars from the conflict.

For instance, the children’s burns unit saw thousands of patients in July and August last year, and with disease rife amid the poverty that many suffer, the hospital provides food and nutrition for hundreds of children.

Poor patients cannot get effective treatment at other hospitals but Al Ahli Arab Hospital accepts them, providing care that is offered to “glorify God and bear witness to His love as manifested in the life of Jesus Christ”.

The Rt Revd Richard Inwood, Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, and The Rt Revd Tony Porter, Bishop of Sherwood, are backing the appeal.

Bishop Tony, pictured above on a farm in Notts, said: “I am delighted to support the two Lent Appeal projects. Isolation, whether it is in Nottinghamshire or the Middle East is something that no-one wants to face.

“It was a privilege recently to preach at the plough service in St Mary’s, Newark, and after talking about the work of NRS, many from the farming community commented from a personal point of view about the importance of the work it carries out.

“We know from our televisions about the devastation in Gaza, but amid all that the Al Ahli Arab Hospital has for many years done amazing work caring for people suffering after years of conflict.

“I like the line from the song that says ‘count your blessings, name them one by one’. We are so blessed and because of that I pray, as a diocese, that we will be generous and bless others.”

During Lent, parishes are being encouraged to explore ways of supporting the isolated and lonely, in conjunction with a national Citizens UK campaign that is pressing for change on a number of key issues, including the provision of social care – more details at www.icareaboutcare.org.uk

One of the best ways of supporting this is to attend Nottingham Citizens’ electoral assembly on 24th March in the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, when politicians involved with social care will be in the spotlight. It is hoped that 500 people from our churches will attend to make a statement about our commitment to social justice.