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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

13 February 2019: John Callaghan, Life Church Petersfield

People of faith are people of action

We love living in Petersfield and, as part of the community of faith in this town, our shared history shows that people of faith are people of action. I was on my Chaplaincy round in Lavant Street recently and a chap stopped to talk and told me his story. In 1973 he and a number of others were concerned over the lack of affordable housing in the town and this group put their own money on the table and began PHA Petersfield Housing Association, an organisation which has now provided over 300 dwellings! I was amazed and Petersfield is full of such stories. People who see a problem and instead of complaining they roll up their sleeves and take action.

I have lived in this town for forty years. For over twenty years I taught at TPS and when the number of complaints about teenage behaviour grew every week I knew something had to be done. Many of the young people felt they were ‘bored’ and that there was ‘nothing to do in Petersfield’. They felt justified in hanging about the Square and drinking too much, whereas the rest of us felt broken shop windows and antisocial behaviour was growing more unacceptable.

As soon as a youth club was proposed as an idea, the churches, the town, the Council all went into action mode. A friend of mine Bill gave up a good job to head the project and hundreds of thousands of pounds were raised, mostly from the churches. Twenty years later The King’s Arms receives over 200 young people a week and has a great reputation across the area. So much so Alton Town Council are keen to replicate the project in Alton.

2019 is a new year and we can either walk past challenges that we see or hear about in our town or take a risk and take action. Perhaps the answer to the question ‘how do we make our town a better place to live’ is ME! Faith is required to believe your idea is important, that you, together with others, are powerful enough to bring change!

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