Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Helping Those in Need Is the Duty of Our Diocese

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Helping Those in Need Is the Duty of Our Diocese

Article excerpt

Byline: By Liz Lamb

This year the Anglican diocese of Newcastle celebrates its 125th anniversary. Liz Lamb looks back at its history and the thousands of people it has helped

Whether they are asylum seekers, families in poverty, the elderly, young people or the homeless, parishes within Newcastle diocese have supported hundreds of community groups over the years.

Though problems facing social groups in Newcastle may have changed since the diocese was created 125 years ago, the spirit of helping people in need remains the same.

It supports more than19 youth projects in the North East where youngsters can seek advice on drugs, housing, health and education, and it also works with young offenders in prison.

The West End Refugee Service in Arthur's Hill and the East End Asylum Seekers Project, in Byker, are another two good causes it supports, as well as working with community groups supporting families and children throughout the diocese.

This year the diocese, which has 245 churches, is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a series of events.

The bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Martin Wharton, says: "We decided we'd have a long series of events to mark the occasion. It will culminate on July 25 when there'll be a big service at St Nicholas' Cathedral attended by the Archbishop of York.

"It's very important to the diocese that we work and support people in Newcastle who require assistance. That's always been something we've done throughout the diocese history."

The diocese of Newcastle was created in 1882, covering the area from the River Tweed, including Northumberland, to the River Tyne, which had previously been covered by Durham diocese.

The first Bishop of Newcastle, Ernest Wilberforce, was consecrated on July 25, 1882. He was the grandson of William Wilberforce, well-known for his role in abolishing slavery.

Speaking at the time about his first impression of Newcastle, the bishop commented: "The diocese wasn't in a very good state.

"It was badly furnished, poorly endowed, under-manned and had little organisation, cohesion or common purpose.

"I had to ask people for yet more money, on top of what had already been given for the creation of the diocese, but within 10 years we had raised pounds 100,000 and been able to create parishes, build churches and mission rooms, and appoint additional clergy."

As well as his campaign for more churches and clergy Wilberforce was also concerned about the social conditions in which many people in the diocese were living. In one Newcastle street there were 62 houses that had 310 families living in them. Most were living in only one room, and cholera and dysentery were at large.

Bishop Wilberforce made sure people with influence and money found out about the housing problem.

Club rooms for poor children in Berwick were set up, the churches of St John and St Luke in Newcastle organised soup kitchens and in 1894 at St Peter's, Wallsend, the vicar's wife founded the Wallsend Nursing Association. …

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