Back in 2016 in the basement of Emmanuel Centre Church in Westminster, Ruth Rice took to the stage for what was then known as Cinnamon Project Lab Final. She spoke of her own mental health struggles and her vision for churches to set up spaces where it was OK not to be OK.
Ruth was one of our winners and, seven years on, that seed of an idea has flourished into a national network with 250 Renew Wellbeing spaces across the UK. Cinnamon have been privileged to be part of the journey.
‘When we started out, I longed to see every church prioritise wellbeing, have spaces for those who felt isolated to come and belong; to become places of peace and prayerful habits,’ explains Ruth.
Ruth was clear about her vision, but she didn’t know how to bring it to life. Which is where the Cinnamon Incubator Programme came in.
More than Just Funding
‘I was able to use the funding to work part time to develop the charity and make sure the principles were multipliable and simple,’ she explains. ‘The help and advice given was of as much value as the funding.’
Cinnamon worked with Ruth to provide guidance as she developed the structure, governance, funding and franchising model for Renew Wellbeing. ‘After the funding ran out, there was no going back and I set up the charity working as director full time,’ she says.
Communities across the UK are now reaping the benefits of that leap of faith. Our nation’s mental health was at epidemic levels before the COVID-19 pandemic. And, according to the charity Mind, around a third of adults and young people said their mental health has got much worse since March 2020.
While the strain on our National Health Service is well reported, Renew Wellbeing has been instrumental in helping churches and communities across the country to respond.
Just the Beginning
Beyond the 250 Renew Wellbeing centres, the team have also developed online training, published two books and are in the process of establishing a youth and children’s programme.
But there’s more to do. ‘I still long to see at least 10% of all UK churches setting up simple safe sustainable spaces to prioritise wellbeing,’ says Ruth.
Register now to join us for the Cinnamon Incubator Final on Wednesday 15 November 2023.
Join us for an inspirational evening as we celebrate the very best in community-led social action.
See where the initiatives you’ve supported over the years are now, and hear from the next generation of social action projects transforming lives across the country.
Thank you so much. Bless you for believing in a funny little idea from a slightly broken church leader.