EVERY year, our bishop encourages churches in his diocese to raise money for special causes during Lent.
His Lent appeal usually raises something like £20,000 each year, which is then split between one local and one global charity.
Last year, a record £32,000 was donated, thanks to generous churchgoers from south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
When he announced where the money was going this year, it was a cause close to my heart. The ‘local’ bit of the appeal will go to charities that tackle obstacles to learning in this area.
That includes organisations that help people with dyslexia. As someone who has struggled with this issue throughout my life, I was pleased that it is being recognised in this way.
Throughout my school life, I had been told that my struggles with learning were due to a lack of skill and intelligence.
I became very anti-school and it all made me feel that I didn’t fit. But when I came to studying for ordination as a priest, my theological college recognised that my educational struggles were due to dyslexia and provided me some practical support, in terms of special computer programmes.
And Oxford Brookes University gave me study skills sessions specifically aimed at students with dyslexia.
Being given the right help earlier in my life would have made learning a much more encouraging experience.
I’m glad that some of the money we raise in Lent will help others in similar situations who may be feeling just as frustrated as I did.
Other local charities that will benefit include those helping disadvantaged young people to learn in creative ways, those working with adults who struggle with literacy, and charities helping those for whom English isn’t their first language.
The other half of the Bishop’s Lent Appeal this year is also going on education.
It will be spent on improving accommodation for those studying to become Anglican clergy in Ghana.
Our diocese has long-standing links with the Anglican Church in Ghana, and we’ve already supported the St Nicholas Theological Seminary there.
The accommodation that the students live in needs to be improved to help them to learn more effectively. Our contributions will make a real difference.
Worshippers from across our diocese raise the money through their own donations and fundraising events.
Go to portsmouth.anglican.org/lentappeal.