08 Jun An update…
It’s been a season of huge change and growth for us.
It’s been a while since our last update… This is a long one as a result.
All the books (and my own conscience) remind me of the importance of regular correspondence with those who have supported you in your formative days. The weight and privilege of responsibility for your trust and faith in our vision has not been in any way absent during the last months.
When you’re setting out to do something as ambitious as we are, there are so many hurdles of learning. There are more failures, more heartbreak and so much more disappointment than I ever thought possible. There are also more political games, more subtle power plays and less honesty than I was prepared or equipped to encounter. And it’s hard to write about all of this when you feel like you’re getting nowhere, and people have placed their trust in you.
It’s so tempting — especially when sitting around the table the people you perceive as powerful — to join in the game. But, instead, we chose to remove ourselves from those places and situations. Over the last two years we’ve stepped away from the big projects and the big ideas, to work on building on the relationships we already had, with people we had grown to love and trust. My Curacy took us to Chaddesden. Derby, and to the Rev’d Beth Honey. My priestly training post was designed to be the thing I did while building Ruach, and it transpired as the place where Ruach would make the most difference in its first five years of existence.
Derwent is full of the demographic of people that The Ruach Trust was set up to serve. It’s in the most deprived 15% of the county
The bottom 21% for income deprivation, and 15% for employment. The worst 9% for health and 12% for education. Most shockingly of all, it is considered to be among the worst 5% in the country for the living environment of its residents. In hindsight, it’s no coincidence that Ruach should end up based here for four years, doing what it was designed to do but not in the way we planned – how often that is the way of things, and by my measure, the way of God.
Over that time we’ve met families and made friends. We joined and shaped an unorthodox and beautiful church community, that brought people around a kitchen table – the things Ruach has always had at its heart. We made friendships so deep and real that it feels crass to make those friendships and love of those families into statistics about Ruach’s success and influence. We’ve just been friends, neighbours, helping hands, tutors, CV writers, counsellors, coaches, encouragers, taxis, babysitters and homework helpers to those we grew to love, and we’ve seen so much change in families as a result of our resources of time and money because of YOUR incredible and generous support over the last few years. And would you believe it – most of our most significant changes in people have been seen in the young men of the families we’ve known.
We enter a season of change now. As some of you will know, I’ve taken a job with St Martin’s Episcopal Church, in Houston, Texas, where I’ve been offered a 2-year contract. On the 16th March, I laid down my role as CEO of Ruach, and stepped into the role as the new Chair of Trustees. There’s a new freedom in this – freedom to shape our future with the community, rather than hold the responsibility for delivering it, and I’m excited to build on the work of the Chairmen and women before me.
As we began withdrawing from some more high status projects we’d been pursuing, and while I investigated a paid(!) job overseas, inspiration struck our Treasurer, Chris. He realised the best place we could possibly be was where we already were, building on our foundations of four years, working with the people God had unexpectedly placed right around us!
So today we write to let you know that out of these years of friendship and relationship, we find, underneath our noses, our project partners: People who love Derby, and love our area of Chaddesden. There is potential for listed buildings, and restoration, and transformation. But more on this in the coming weeks. Needless to say, it’s hugely exciting but also small enough for us to have confidence that with our newfound partners we can deliver. We so look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks ahead.
Friends – thank you for all your support over the last five years. You took Ruach from dream to reality. You stuck with us when we couldn’t see the way forward for a bit, and we’re so excited and privileged to share the next step with you.
With immense gratitude,
Jane Plackett-Ferguson, Former CEO, The Ruach Trust