Lent is often associated with giving up and being miserable. So, I was amused to read that one of my clergy has found a typically positive and creative way to use this reflective time of year.
City Centre Priest, the Revd Chris Howson, who is committed to seeing the city of Bradford thrive again, attended a ‘Positive Bradford’ event in the Midland Hotel. He was so impressed by the hard work going on behind the scenes by different organisations in the city that he decided to make it his Lenten theme in the run up to Easter.
He said: “So, over the next 40 days and nights I will: 1) support Bradford businesses by shopping locally 2) always challenge those who are negative about the city, and remind them why Bradford has so much going for it 3) do something positive, like a street clean or make something beautiful for others to enjoy 4) celebrate the city’s rich cultural and faith heritage by visiting places of worship, local museums, restaurants and beauty spots 5) give to local Bradford Charities that are really making a difference to people lives, such as Hope Housing, BEACON (Bradford Ecumenical Asylum Concern) and Bradford Nightstop.”
Bradford is a great place, but gets lots of knocks – from inside as well as outside. But a creative future demands a recovery of focus on the great resources and assets here already. As Chris Howson went on to say: “This is a great city, and we’ve a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that. When we know there are problems, our duty is to challenge them and change them – not to just moan and talk our city down. Over the next 40 days, whether we have a faith or not, we can all do something to enjoy our city and make new friends from other cultures along the way.”
Given that C4 is about to run a two-part series called Making Bradford British, some positivity might be needed. It is widely assumed that this series will be negative and compound the negative image of the city. However, we haven’t yet seen it, so we don’t know and can’t know whether the story it ultimately tells is interesting, accurate, helpful, good or bad. What I do know is that we are looking at creative and engaging ways of using it to take a look at the issues we already know are here. But, apart from the crass title (Bradford is British already…), the use of provocative words like ‘segregation’ without further explanation or illustration is a bit wild and reckless.
Anyway, we’ll see what it throws up. A confident community is able to take the hits and turn them into something useful – something I will be interested to help with when the programmes go out in March. And if they present a travesty of reality, we will entertainingly tackle the programme makers. Watch this space.
PS. Another Lent idea comes from a great initiative with children in a tough area of Bradford: here’s the link to Kidz Klub.