Thursday, 29 April 1999

St Thomas’ Church

The soft light shines through the
brightly-coloured windows of the church
Onto the grey stone floor.The tall, creamy-white candle flickers
And smoke curls silently into the still, quiet air.
A bible lies open on the lectern,
Waiting to be read.
The lectern stands tall,
Its eagle strong and brave,
Ready to take its message around the world.

Class 3, Ward Green Primary School

Thursday, 1 April 1999

Profile: Craig Sumpter

(Our local Community Constable, interviewed by Jannette Meek)

Whose arm do you reach out for when you hit a crisis and want help quick – a neighbour or the Samaritans?  Chances are it’s the long arm – of the Law, that is: in our case our local ‘bobby’, Craig Sumpter.
When he is not out chasing robbers, as he was when I made my first appointment with him (attempted break-in at the High Street Chemist), he’s just as likely to be helping an old lady get back into the house she’s locked herself out of, or pouring oil on the troubled waters of a ‘marital’.  Anything and everything can get ‘thrown at him’ in the course of a shift, and usually does.  He is able to take it all in his stride, though it wasn’t so easy when he first started in the Police over a decade ago.  Apparently ‘rookie’ cops are ‘seasoned’ with attendance at morgues.  We all know what’s kept there!  On Craig’s first visit the canteen menu included ‘spare-ribs’.  Somehow he just couldn’t fancy them.
The Police are the Emergency Service most turned to when we are in need.  90% of the time we use the phone to contact them; relatively few people visit the Station.  This is why – although we like them on the beat (and they are out there) – the top priority is to have the call-centre staffed round-the-clock so emergency calls can be immediately relayed to any or all of the sub-stations throughout the Borough.  Forces are then deployed at once to the trouble spot.  Apparently the police helicopter, based in Sheffield, can be hovering over Worsbrough in a couple of minutes.  Those gently paced days of ‘Heartbeat’ have gone forever, I’m afraid; but Worsbrough is just a ‘heartbeat’ away from the hi-tech and highly trained Police Force of today. 
Worsbrough is now a training centre for police recruits and, with extra evening shifts being put on shortly our local station is a hive of activity.  And, when the government puts money into re-furbishing all the police stations in the country, in the near future, it will have a welcome face lift.
Okay, so what are the crimes and where are the criminals?  Well, top of the pops in crime are: burglary, auto’s and drugs.  The criminals?  Some live amongst us, as they do in any strata of society; others sneak in from outside the area, using anonymity, and just as quietly sneak out again.   Many are young – well we know that; but, hearteningly, most grow out of it and only a minority go on to become ‘hardened criminals’.        There is  still honour among thieves, apparently.  For example, some won’t touch drugs with a barge-pole; some who will happily rob large stores would never dream of breaking into someone’s home.
Is there a particular day or season in crime?  Craig assures me not, though Christmas is an obvious and unfortunate exception.  Also, those long hot summer evenings (we do get them sometimes) with all the extra drinking that usually ensues: they create their own particular problems.  Oh and by the way thieves don’t like to get wet, so it’s not only farmers and gardeners who pray for a heavy downpour.
Craig sees the problems in Worsbrough as more or less common to all communities throughout the UK.  Crime is crime whatever the neighbourhood, and there is just as likely to be wife beating and break-ins in affluent areas as in poorer ones.
Along with his usual police duties Craig, as Community Constable, is very involved with all aspects of community life.  At the more difficult end the Police, working with the Local Authority are tackling ‘problem families’: and sometimes there are tough decisions to be made.  At the happier end is the quest to provide a safe, stable environment and a good future for everyone in the area to look forward to.  Projects are already well under way in Worsbrough with just this aim in mind.  The Joseph Rowntree backed ‘Communities that Care’ and the Kendray and Worsbrough partnership are two such schemes.  Many local authorities and groups are involved: Craig certainly is, to a very great extent.  He also visits schools, youth groups and children’s groups offering advice, help and s sympathetic ear.  He was on his way to Elmhirst School after this interview to meet with the students there.
Worsbrough has had its hard times over the past decades: pit closures, massive unemployment and the family unit hit badly.  As Craig says “We got off the rails a while back there but we’re back on and someone’s switched the light on at the end of the tunnel”.  It’s not going to get better overnight but good things are beginning to happen.  Craig can understand what mining communities have gone through – he comes from mining stock – his father was a miner.
Well, this all makes for a demanding schedule for ‘our bobby’.  How does the man relax?  He changes nappies!  His year-old son’s to be exact. Then there’s his three-and-a-half year old daughter and her dancing classes: I suspect his wife does most of the ferrying to-and-fro there.

Craig met the number one lady in his life whilst based in Dodworth where she worked in an old folk’s residential home.  It became a ‘convenient’ calling in spot for a cuppa and a chat for our PC!  I bet the senior citizens living there exchanged some knowing looks after his visits.  Craig’s family and his work are his two major loves.  Before he became a policeman he worked in a bank – two very different lines of work but, as he says, they’re both public relations jobs.  Yes Craig, with one you have a panic-button and with the other you have a truncheon, (and Craig assures me he wouldn’t hesitate to use it if he had to).
Craig doesn’t know what the future holds for him, but then who does 100%?  Somehow I can’t see him going back to banking.  Hopefully Worsbrough can hang on to him for a good few years to come.
As he showed me out, Craig pointed out with pride the motto of the south Yorkshire Police on the wall: “Justice with Courage”.  To me, that just about sums up our Community Constable.              Jannette Meek

A Time to Listen

We are living in changing times.  Some change is for the worse but some is also for the better and as Christians we live in hope.  The world is changing and if the Church doesn’t change as well it will become (if it is not already) a museum piece: in which case some people may find it curious but most will write it off as irrelevant.  The challenge to us is to be true to what it has always meant to be the Church whilst at the same time keeping up with the times and maintaining (or regaining) our relevance.  The PCC has decided to conduct a ‘Feasibility Study’ of our life, as a Church set within its local community.  The basic idea of the study is to do the following:
  Research and Describe:  Ourselves as a Church and the local community round about us.

  Analyse:  What we discover about both and the relationship between them

  Make recommendations:   on how to move forward
A small ‘steering group’ (myself, Andrew Hill, Lynn Beardshall, Edna Kaye, Greg & Dawn Nicholson) has begun meeting to think how we can go about this.  We will be receiving help from Rachel Ross, the Diocesan Social Responsibility Officer.  In the long run the more people who get involved the better.  It is about all of us: living as God’s people, and interacting with the wider community.
 ‘A time to listen’ sums up what we need to do.  Listening to ourselves and to each other: what do we believe, what is important?  Listening to people that aren’t regular members at church or who wouldn’t ‘darken our doors’: what impression do they have of us, what image do we present?  Listening to God: how does he want us to move forward together?  So, watch this space and listen out for further details.  Make your point of view known to the steering group.  And above all LISTEN: find out what your family, friends and neighbours think.  Listen carefully and reflect on what you hear.