A very fond farewell to Steve Smith!

The week before Steve was due to retire from inHope, I caught up with him to ask him a few questions. He’s been a part of the ministry for a long time and I wanted to hear and share his experiences from over the years.

How long have you been working for inHope?

I volunteered to help for Crisis Centre doing admin tasks shortly after I retired from my previous work, on health grounds. Eight years later, when I was thinking I might manage to return to work part time, I stumbled across the Volunteer Support Coordinator role that was being advertised. I applied and was appointed in July 2009. A shorter answer would have been just over 11 years. A more precise one would be since October 2019 when the charity rebranded as inHope! (very funny, Steve!)

Tell us about being an evening Duty Manager at the Wild Goose and any good stories you can share.

I was only ever a Duty Manager once in the Goose, as it takes a special person to fulfil that role regularly. It happened that I was in the Goose that evening assisting Natalie who was showing some people what inHope does. With only half a team and no Duty Manager, the visitors said they would pitch in, so we managed to open the doors with me as Duty Manager. God graciously gave us a quiet evening behaviour-wise and the clients were all fed. I see this as just one incident among many where God clearly and graciously stepped in during my time with inHope and provided what was needed.

You were the first man to be trusted by women staying at Spring of Hope, to visit the shelter and lead a weekly bible study for them. Can you share what God showed you or how your faith was impacted during those times?

Whist there were some women who were quite vocal in their opposition to the Christian faith, it is quite amazing the level of faith shown by women in such difficult situations and who have suffered so much. Also, it was a real joy to see a gradual growth of confidence in God among some of the women as the weeks went by. The evidence suggests that if we, as Christians, are able to share what we know of Jesus in a faithful, gentle and non-threatening way, he is able to work in the lives of whoever we might be with, and whatever their history

What changes have you seen along the way?

When I joined, CCM was very much still a pioneering work, with a sense of call from God. I worked with people whose gifts were to innovate, and at times we flew by the seat of our pants! The charity has grown enormously, founded on that early vision. The two projects (Wild Goose and LITE course) have become four (Wild Goose, Life Recovery, Spring of Hope, and Foodbank). The number of volunteers has increased from sixty to between five and six hundred. Staff numbers have increased fourfold and the influence in the city has grown. It has, out of necessity, become far more structured (for example the legal demands of safeguarding; risk assessments; health& safety and the level of financial oversight necessary). So, it is massively different, but remains true to its sense of call, and the vision it was founded upon.

Tell us a highlight of your time with inHope.

Over eleven years and with a fading memory it is difficult to pick one stand out thing! That said, I have most enjoyed the relationships formed with fellow staff, volunteers, and clients. I’m really grateful for these relationships.

What parting thought would you like to share with us?

Firstly, I’m really grateful to God for all he has given me personally through being a part of CCM/inHope. Then I would want to encourage everyone that in the words of Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, “He who calls you is faithful; he will do it”. I have seen this to be true time and again in my time with this ministry, so “relax, God’s in charge”.

On Friday 31st July, on Steve’s last day, the staff had a social distanced retirement ‘do,’ where we shared cake, fun stories of Steve’s time with us, and how he has been a wise and steady presence. We ended by giving Steve some gifts and praying for him and his wife Liz, as they start their retired life together. We’re sure you’ll share with us in praying for them as well.

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