In 1999, Pastor Pete Cunningham, his son Andrew and Vicki Woodley, already housing the homeless in their church building in Southport, put their hands in their pockets and purchased two flats in Southport to give homeless people somewhere to live.
The first recipients of Green Pastures were a single mum and her child. Two decades later, there are now hundreds of people housed by the charity at any one time and thousands more have benefitted over the years.
In 2003, a chaplain from North Staffordshire found out about the work and asked the charity to buy a property in Stoke-on-Trent – so his team could take ex-offenders from the prison gate to house and care for them.
‘Taking a step of faith, we bought a property for someone else,’ recalled Pete. ‘The results were amazing! As we provided more housing, the re-offending rate reduced. Now we partner with dozens of other churches across the UK and house more than 1100 people. Many of our partners look after ex-offenders and a good percentage stay out of prison and become good citizens. Many go on to have faith in Jesus Christ. This is our modus operandi – saving souls. Our properties and staff work to that end.’
For those who cannot work with homeless people direct, it is possible to invest in the work – with the funds working ethically. Investors are paid up to five per cent and with the money Green Pastures buy property for local churches and provide all the paperwork, expertise and ongoing support to operate a successful supported housing project.
The enormous changes in towns and individual lives can be seen everywhere. Residents of The Greenhouse Project in Plymouth have experienced the faith of the support workers in their Green Pastures home. One resident said: ‘When I met the guys at The Greenhouse and saw how they love Jesus and the way that they were living for God, that appealed to me, and that helped me get back into recovery and faith.’
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• Green Pastures will be exhibiting at CRE South West 2021 (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 Mar) and CRE National 2021 (Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, 12-14 Oct)
See the CRE At Home resources guide!