Almost every human struggle is represented in the charities supported by Horsham Churches Together.
At a recent event by the group, which includes 32 member churches, seven of its partner charities showed what they offered people facing everything from depression or debt to homelessness and addiction.
Oasis Crisis Pregnancy Centre has provided advice and support for 17 years to women facing problems such as unexpected pregnancies, abortions or still births.
Joy Steele, centre manager, said: “They reckon there are about four million women, who have had an abortion at some stage.
“A lot of them get on with life and it doesn’t affect them again, but some of them don’t and we want to support them. Someone who’s had an abortion is aware of how long ago it is since and how old their child would be. When they see a child, they think ‘my child would be that age’. There are women carrying it around.”
The charity also provides free pregnancy tests, clothes and equipment to parents and runs a schools programme.
For parents facing divorce or family separation, the Horsham Child Contact Centre meets twice a month at Kingdom Faith Church in Foundry Lane, Horsham, to enable children to have a relationship with both parents.
Co-ordinator Dee Floodgate said: “It’s about building bridges. We have had dads coming along, who haven’t seen their children for years. It’s widely recognised that children need to have a relationship with both parents.
“It’s also grandparents, stepbrothers, aunts, uncles. They are important relationships and mums need to understand that the child can be really denied.”
In some cases they have enabled parents to heal their relationship to the point they organise their own contact.
Anchor Ministries is a counselling service for people facing a range of crises. Director of counselling Wally Fharer said: “There has been a sea change in the past decade. When I started a year ago there was a lot of ‘stiff upper lip’. Now the stresses of life and the pressures are hugely different. The breakdown of family life has made a huge contribution.”
He said just in the past two years the number of people they see had doubled.
The Horsham Debt Advice Service has helped people in financial difficulty for more than a decade.
Chairman Moira Du Bois said payday loans were responsible for a lot of what they see. “People come in with a number of payday loans or loans from people who call at the door. They get into debt with everything else because of that.”
The charity has grown over the years helping more people. Moira added: “We started in the attic of the Horsham Christian Centre (formerly in South Street, Horsham).
“We had eight volunteers and over the years it’s expanded and developed, probably due to our previous chairman who was a very dynamic person, with God’s help. We wouldn’t have done it without a lot of prayer and listening to where we were being led.”
Also represented at the exhibition were charities which help young people.
The YMCA, which runs the Horsham Y-Centre in Albion Way, was one of them.
Chief executive of Sussex Central YMCA David Standing said: “We have young people coming to us who have more complex problems now. We are doing a lot more with those. We have local employers who want to provide mentoring to young people to help them get involved in employment. Horsham has not got a lot of deprivation, but there are deep pockets. The employment opportunities are few and far between.”
Linked with that, they have set up decorating and gardening companies through which young people can train.
Since setting up five years ago Horsham Matters has branched out from being a provider of secondhand furniture to people in need.
It has launched a youth work programme across the district and working with the Trussell Trust, it has set up five foodbanks.
Chief executive David Sheldon said: “It’s not us doing stuff, but God doing stuff through us. We have given out £124,000 in five years to other organisations.
“I never really thought about (expansion). In some ways I can’t quite believe it. I asked ‘could we still be doing this in ten, 15, 20 years’ time.
“We always cover our costs. When we are short of staff we pray and stuff comes in.”
The more shocking realities were also brought to bear at the exhibition.
Streetlight helps girls and women involved in prostitution and escorting.
Since launching in 2012, it has helped raise awareness of escorting and prostitution in Horsham by going into schools and providing a reassuring presence for girls during night patrols.
Nine out of ten women do not want to be in the trade and volunteers work with the police, councils and businesses to help the victims of trafficking rebuild their lives.
The charity’s research in Horsham has found school-aged girls are being groomed.
Founder Helena Croft said: “We know a 12-year-old was approached by traffickers in broad daylight in Horsham outside McDonald’s last year.
“You imagine, a 12-year-old who’s got a boyfriend who’s got a car. We know the danger of that, they don’t.”
ARK Horsham supports homeless people and those struggling with addictions on a daily basis. This year they have helped more than 200 individuals with hot meals, friendship and support.
Founder Lisa Burrell said: “ARK is a welcoming place where people can come together from many backgrounds to share a cuppa and receive the support and advice they need.
“People come to ARK for many reasons, This can be from anything as simple as help reading a letter or filling out forms and job searches to addressing more complex issues like homelessness or addictions.”
The contact details for all the charities are as follows:
- Anchor Counselling, anchor-counselling.org.uk, WJFahrer@aol.com
- The ARK Horsham, www.thearkhorsham.org.uk, email@example.com, 07825 284054
- Horsham Child Contact Centre, www.horshamccc.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07594 598243
- Horsham Debt Advice Service, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01403 258040
- Horsham Matters, www.horsham-matters.org.uk, guysherlock@horsham-mat ters.org.uk, 01403 211833
- The Oasis, www.the oasis.org.uk, email@example.com, 01403 272723
- Streetlight, www.streetlight.uk.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- YMCA Downslink Group, www.ymcadlg.org, email@example.com, 01483 532555