God’s Biker Book Tour

Thank you for the recent support and encouragement on the tour of dates following the release of God’s Biker. Here’s a few snapshots from along the way. It really was such an encouragement to connect and sometimes re-connect with so many people. I shall be making a return to Australia for a few dates there, after a long absence, and listen out for some features on UCB radio here in the UK and other features in the press regarding God’s Biker: Motorcycles & Misfits. Grateful to Wynne Evans at BBC Radio Wales for a recent interview who gave room for some stories from Zac’s Place. In all of this the ongoing efforts at Zac’s Place continue with a great team of volunteers and community connections./ Thanks for your ongoing interest and support.

Fully Loaded for the week on the road

Signing at the Reading event

Swansea at The Hyst

Back at the BBC

God’s Biker needed to go into it’s first reprint prior to release date due to the high numbers of pre-orders thank you! Zac’s Place will be benefitting from all of Sean’s royalties.

At Kennet Valley Free Church, Reading

Pleased to get their copies!

With Wynne Evans at BBC Radio Wales in Cardiff

Beatitudes Exhibition Now Open

We are so pleased to be able to write with news that our wonderful Beatitudes exhibition opened at Swansea Grand Theatre on 21 November 2016 and will remain on view until 4 Feb 2017.

These eight pieces of work from seven different artists cover a wide variety of art mediums and pack a real punch as each artist poured their heart and soul into their work, drawing on Jesus’ words know as ‘The Beatitudes’ in Matthew’s Gospel chapter five.

For the last ten years this work has been based at Zac’s Place and now is available to a wider audience. You can view that work for free on Level two of the exhibition area of the theatre whenever the threat is open, which is usually daily from 9.30am and until the end of the evening performances in the main house or the depot theatre.

Please find below a few pictures from our opening night – hopefully they’ll serve as enough of a taster to get you along! It was great to have a couple of the artists there too!

And here’s how they got there! 
These cases now mean that the exhibition is available to travel to other venues.

The Beatitudes at The Grand

We are delighted to announce that our in house art commission inspired by The Beatitudes of Jesus, recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, will be exhibited on Level 2 at Swansea Grand Theatre from 21 Nov 2016 until 4 Feb 2017.
 
 Feel free to get the word out and encourage conversation around these stunning pieces of work.
 

A Lament From Zac’s Place

On Tuesday evenings as a ‘church for ragamuffins’ community we gather together to study, discuss and grapple with the Bible. They’re often very frank and refreshingly honest times of faith and struggle. Quite often we methodically work through a book of the bible. When Sean suggested we looked at the book of Lamentations there were a few raised eyebrows!

However at the end of the series, which demonstrated a language for pain and suffering and finding God in it, each was invited to contribute to writing our own Lament. Liz patiently and skilfully compiled everyone’s contributions into what you read below. Enjoy.


Zac’s Lament

God, I feel worn out, frustrated.
I am too busy being busy to notice what people need yet I judge them because I feel I am the one who has to do all the work.
I am a let-down, embarrassed at the state I sometimes find myself in and crushed when those close to me see me like that.
My heart is heavy because my words have caused hurt to others;
I have brought disharmony to my family.
My parents have seen their hopes fade and they – and I – have seen the effects of addiction on those we love.
I see those who suffer from illness and those who mourn with grief so deep at the loss of their parents.
And with eyes that can no longer cry I give the word for my beautiful dog to be put to sleep.
My stupidity, naivety, fear and anxiety get in the way
and stop me helping others.
I’ve been taking God for granted,
missing out on the freshness of his love.
I wish time could be reversed; what if I had done things differently?

The city has a heavy spirit of despair, where is hope?
It has never recovered from past hurts;
many great shops have closed down
and money has been wasted on foolish projects.
Greed and materialism have taken up residence.
We’ve given up on our dreams and our passions.
Nobody cares about our environment or government,
because we believe we are powerless to change anything.
We experience a lack of community, concern and love
where the homeless are treated like nobodies,
people are rejected instead of embraced
and a huge amount of food is wasted.
An offer of friendship is seen as weakness
and there is no appreciation for those who help others.
Only the gossips, who find pleasure in reminding us of our past failings, thrive.

The world is round like the lives people lead, always coming back to the same conclusion:
where is hope?
We have the society we deserve, a throwaway society where racism, violence and rubbish abound, where it’s every man for himself. Self, self, self.
Governments everywhere act out of selfish interests
instead of for the common good.
Migrants, child soldiers, Syria, cruelty to animals, torture, rape, degradation of women, Palestine, injustice, fear, refugees, hatred, sorrow.
We have lost our passion for justice; we have lost respect for all living creatures.
Where is hope?

All who hope make hope.
Hope is finding a purpose, putting an idea in place when there is nothing left to salvage – and believing that it will come to pass.
Hope is in places like Zac’s where people talk to each other and treat each other with respect.
Hope is in drug agencies and churches beginning to work together for people instead of preaching at them.
Hope is seen in surprising places, in street children who should have none.
Hope is in people who care, people like us, people who will work 100% for God.
I believe God has a wider plan,
one that will use people’s gifts to help put things right,
one that through prayer, community and action will produce fruit.
When we love each other, when we allow ourselves to be the wild sacred beings God created,
we are powerful beyond measure.
With God’s help
we can be the change we want to see in the world.
God’s love and grace are overwhelming,
his forgiveness never-ending.

Support Us Via ‘Just Giving’

Due to numerous enquiries from people wanting to raise money for online via sponsored events, you can now support us via Just Giving in one of several ways including:

  • One off donations
  • Regular Support
  • A specific sponsored event with your own page to share on social media

Donate with JustGiving

For other ways of being able to support us please see the ‘Support’ page.

Thank you for your interest and support, it is much appreciated.

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Important Health Care Provision

We’re pleased to be able to report that as of the beginning of August, we are hosting a walk in clinic staffed by Swansea’s ‘homeless and vulnerable adults’ nurse, Jan Keauffling.
 
 This facility will be available to many of our friends in the city on Mon, Tue and Weds mornings from 8am, when we are open for breakfast for rough sleepers, (staffed by The Wallich), through until 11am each week.
 
 Jan had a wonderful facility and treatment room at the Cyrenians centre at St Matthews in High Street, which tragically had to close earlier this year. We can’t offer the same space, but it does mean Jan and her colleagues, can continue to function effectively among vulnerable patients and deliver excellent health care that is accessible, in a familiar venue. This is very much a short term solution, but it will partially fill an important gap.
 
 Thank you for your support in helping us to do this.
 


Over the years we have previously hosted numerous health days organised by Jan and her team of health professionals and in partnership with the Swansea School of Medicine and The Big Issue.
 
 See this link to see what other things we are doing at Zac’s Place to look out for those in crisis.

Sweet Sorrows

We’re pleased to be able to announce that Sammy and Kylie Horner will be returning to guest at Zac’s Place Tribal Gathering on Tues 1 September.
 


When they called by last year their stunning acoustic performance of their blend of Celtic influenced Americana tunes went down a storm.
 Heartfelt lyrics, honest questions and an earthy faith will weave its way together from these two accomplished performers.

Martyn Joseph & Bob Harris OBE Concert

A Unique Evening With Martyn Joseph and Bob Harris OBE in support of Zac’s Place.

Saturday 4th July, 7.30pm
Zac’s Place, George Street,Swansea, SA1 4HH

Tickets £15 plus booking fee.

TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE HERE


Martyn Joseph is pleased to announce what promises to be a very memorable and unique evening with his special guest Bob Harris OBE, in aid of Zac’s Place in Swansea.

Martyn’s Let Yourself Trust has been promoting and raising funds for Zac’s Place over the last 6 months on both sides of the Atlantic. Zac’s Place supports homeless people in crisis and provides them with new opportunities. For some it is the only safe haven in their lives, offering love, support and acceptance. The charity is the third project Let Yourself has been working with after a Children’s Theatre in Palestine and an orphanage in Guatemala, and this evening will be a beautiful culmination of their partnership and fund raising during this time as well as shining a light on the amazing work done at Zac’s Place.

The show will feature MJ doing what he does best, bringing his “stunning heartfelt music” to an intimate audience at Zac’s Place, along with Q and A time with both Martyn and Bob and also Sean Stillman, Zac’s founder, will talk about the inspiring work they do.

Martyn Joseph is a powerful singer and songwriter gifted with the rare ability to speak to the soul with his expressive and poignant lyrics. With a career spanning 30 years, 32 albums, over a half a million record sales and thousands of live performances, the versatility of his music touches genres of folk, rock, soul, folk-funk and Americana, yet somehow all these labels cannot define the spirit of his music

Bob Harris is a legend, pure and simple.
Described by ‘Radio Times’ as ‘one of the greats of British contemporary music broadcasting and an independent champion of great music’ and by the ‘Mail On Sunday’ as ‘a national treasure’, Bob has been at the centre of the British music industry for nearly forty years.

Don’t miss this opportunity to share in what will be an unforgettable up close and personal event.

TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE HERE

Is Anyone Listening?

A couple of winters ago I got a call from someone saying Pete was desperately down and needed some additional warm things. It was well below zero and the snow was falling onto packed ice.

I put the snow chains on the van and headed into the city as quick as I could and true to form I found Pete, huddled up peering out of his coat declaring that he was perfectly ok and had what he needed wondering what all the fuss was about.


(Photo courtesy of Lee Aspland)

Pete was as complex as he was introverted, as intelligent as he was sober and as stubborn as he was opinionated.

His stubborn refusal to engage with ‘the system’ infuriated me, and many others, only taking help if he believed it was truly benevolent, which to our community’s credit was often in abundance. If however, he thought anyone was receiving a salary for ‘helping the homeless’, they didn’t meet the criteria to be in his circle of support, despite their efforts and care.

To get close to Pete was almost impossible. You had to earn that right and it wasn’t anything to do with what you might offer of material gain or daily bread. There were no brief meaningful chats with Pete. You needed an hour at least before you even started.

A lyrical journey of sorting his predicament out, the struggles of a changing city around him, the ecstasy of watching Mo Farah win gold on ‘his’ wide screen tv in the square, reeling off Beach Boys and Mamas and Papas songs, the memories of being fit enough to play table tennis, the hypocrisy of government, society and the church and all the books he wants to store, were all fair game, for any that were invited into the intimacy of a private audience with Pete.

What Pete wrestled with was the same as most of us, the reality that life is often about loss. The loss of innocence, of opportunity come and gone, of loved ones unexpectedly departing and the loss of love thought won.

People respond and react in many different ways, for Pete, he chose to try and lose Brian Burford in search of only he knew what and why. But for all the muddle and the riddles, he carried something in his soul, a crusade and mission to make a point maybe. He was not a statistic, or even a legend, he hated that thought, but he wanted to say ‘something’ on his terms and he wanted ‘someone’ to listen.

On occasion Pete would say, “if I ever give this up, it won’t be in the winter, it will be on a warm summers day”, as if there could have been some far off possibility that it could happen and he was in control of it.

We ‘could’ build a monument of bronze 100 feet high, or we could pause, we could watch, we could learn to listen. If we want to build a monument in memory of Pete, may it be one that taps into the core of our soul that compels us to love without measure or want of any reward, to leave our prejudice behind, to live simply and gather only what we need. May it be a monument of substance in the life of our community that levels the ground and doesn’t place a persons worth on what we see with our eyes, but in the knowledge that we are all wonderfully made and indeed all very fragile.

Enjoy the dance dear friend, the embrace, the banquet and the mansion. See you later, I’ll be the one stood outside in the rain hoping you’ll let me in.

Here’s some Bob Dylan to close with, the lyric somehow seems appropriate.

Sean

‘Pete’s’ funeral took place on 25 February 2015. His ashes were placed on the grave of his mother, his step father and his younger brother. Robin Turner wrote a thoughtful piece in the Western Mail which you can find here.

Chimes Of Freedom – Bob Dylan

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Copyright © 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music

The Pro’s and Con’s of volunteering at Christmas

Christmas is a popular time for us to receive offers of help among the homeless and street community – maybe with helping at meals over this time. Quite often we have to turn away help and I hope in these few paragraphs it will explain why.

Please do not be offended if you have offered your help and services with us at Zac’s Place, or indeed to any other agency working with homeless and vulnerable people, over the Christmas period and not been given the opportunity to volunteer.

We appreciate people’s enthusiastic support and interest at Christmas time, but the reality is, helping out at a soup kitchen or drop-in centre can actually be very specialised work. It is not something that complete strangers can just drop in, in numbers and help out easily. Much of the work is with very fragile and sometimes unpredictable, volatile and chaotic people who respond to the support given to them best, when it’s built on long-term relationships.

At Zac’s place we have a very dedicated team of year round volunteers. One team of volunteers alongside support staff from the Wallich, open up at breakfast time 250 days a year. Another team of approximately a dozen volunteers staff our coffee bar and soup kitchen on a Thursday night which opens for 46 weeks every year.

In these, we work carefully in partnership with the City & County of Swansea rough sleeper’s task group, other organisations like the Wallich, Caer Las, Missionaries of Charity, Salvation Army, the Night Shelter, the Big Issue, prison chaplaincy and local drugs projects to ensure that the people we aim to help and support are looked after as best we can within safe boundaries of integrity and confidentiality.

Because of this, it is not easy for us to just open our doors to accept voluntary help for a single occasion to people who we simply do not know. Some of the people we support are very vulnerable and we would not want to expose them to any more potential risk than they already experience in daily life.

We and many of the other organisations in the city welcome volunteer support throughout the year. If you would like to support those who are homeless and vulnerable for other reasons, over the Christmas period, our advice would be to get involved with a project during the rest of the year in preparation, building up relationships and where there are specific ongoing needs for volunteers, financial support and other practical items also.

If the only time that you have available is over the Christmas period we understand this and would welcome other ways of contributing – drop in with some non perishable food tins with ring pulls , some toiletries or simply a gift of some jars of coffee and bags of sugar to keep the everyday wheels turning are really helpful things. New socks and underwear are always welcome – small pots of Vaseline to help keep trench foot at bay make a difference. Often when places of refuge are volunteer led, they are also donation funded – practical items are really helpful and will make a difference.

Thank you for your interest, support and understanding – with warmest Christmas greetings from us all at Zac’s Place