I first got involved with One25 even before it started with a couple of other church leaders in the city. We met with Val and we talked and prayed about her vision and her dream.
My wife was one of the first volunteers so she got very involved when it was still at the One25 building in Stokes Croft. She headed up the drop-in centre and then she managed the project for a few years. I became a trustee and was a trustee for 10 years.
I was leading a church at the time called Bristol Christian Fellowship and we had a heart for things in the city because it’s where we were obviously. It did have a very significant effect on us as a church with many, many people volunteering or some were staff at One25. And just hearing their stories.
We had a building g in St Paul’s, the Grosvenor Centre, which was really paid for by people in the church living in St Paul’s who just wanted to see some sort of transformation. There was nursery children’s activities going on in the day but as One25 started to use it as offices, it was our trustees who approached us and said, “look they are doing in St. Paul’s what we always wanted to do. Why don’t we give them the building?”
Here were people bringing some sort of hope, transformation, showing unconditional love in an area where we had a heart interest. So it made real sense just to give the building to One25. And it’s been brilliant to see its use, to see how it’s developed, to see how it has changed.
When I started being a trustee it was transitioning I think from being a project to being an organization. What I’ve seen as I’ve looked back – there have been several mangers who have all been the right people to take it to the next stage. And when I started to get involved it was around the time that Gill [Nowland] took over and she was able to really take it through to the next stage where it grew, it developed. And just seeing Anna there now – I feel Anna she’s the person for this phase. So that’s been good to see how that has worked out.
I’ve been trustee of a few things and sometimes it’s just business so the trustees meetings are more business-like but with One25 it never felt like that, it felt like what can we do to enhance the lives of women? To know there was a business element, that always goes hand in hand with trustee work It wasn’t just that but I think One25 has managed that well. It’s kept the core values but at the same time it’s been able to expand to be a sizeable organization making quite a dramatic impact.
Because I think the core values are unconditional love and acceptance, women who have never found that, never received that, when they start to touch it, know that they can be special. I think one of the factors in so many of the women who have been through One25 is they didn’t think they were worth much and the wonderful thing about the gospel as expressed through One25 is it’s saying that you’re loved, you’re accepted, there’s something of value in you.
And I’ve heard women say and I’ve heard many second hand stories from women saying this is where I was accepted, you accepted me for who I was, where I was. And I genuinely think, if we are to change there’s got to be some acceptance. You know, we can never think If I change I’ll be accepted”, it doesn’t work like that. But I think that once people know a real sense of security and acceptance, then they’ve got the confidence and the foundation to start to change knowing that they have people with them.
The bottom line is a hope, a prayer, a wish that it continues being sustainable but not just sustainable, actually develops.
And all the time when I speak to people from One25 I hear of the new things that are happening and think great, so it’s not going to become stagnant. You’re doing a fantastic job.
The fact that it’s being going for 25 years is amazing and we just hope and pray that it will continue until there’s no need for it to continue.