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Viewpoint from Lieutenant Rob Symons for 25th Feb 2011

Lieutenant Rob Symons
Along with my wife Lieutenant Georgina Symons, we are the leaders of The Salvation Army Church and its ministry here in Great Yarmouth
Over the past few weeks one verse of scripture has kept coming into my mind; ‘each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, nROB FOR WEBot reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Corinthians 9:7). The past few months have been extremely busy; I imagine for many. For The Salvation Army, in the lead up to Christmas we were carolling in the Market Place and in various care homes for the elderly and we had our ‘Toys and  Tins Appeal’ where we helped individuals and families in need.
I have to say I was extremely humbled and inspired at the sheer generosity of the many people who helped support our work. Whether it was donations of toys or of food or of clothing or toiletries or in the giving of time to wrap presents and sort food hampers, and of course there were those who supported our ongoing work financially.  Through our ‘Toys and Tins Appeal’ this year we were able to help over 240 families and over 550 people with food and over 250 adults and over 300 children all received a present. 
These numbers may sound impressive, but the truth of the matter is that we could not of done it without people being so generous and kind and loving and at times selfless and thinking of others; not least Great Dove rightYarmouth Borough Council for making a premises available to us for 3 months and the many schools, local businesses and Scout Groups amongst others who all donated tirelessly.
We had a similar experience when we held a Christmas lunch for those who come into our Community Drop In; Herbie’s. Over 50 people sat down to a turkey roast with all the trimmings served by a whole variety of volunteers ranging from outreach support workers to members of the clergy and from PCSO’s to a Head of the Borough Council. What was even more encouraging was the number of individuals and organisations, involving both the private, public and voluntary sector who came together to provide enough resource to purchase all the food and table decorations required along with gifts and cards for all. For me, as a Christian leader, this was just one other example of seeing what I believe to be the ‘Kingdom of God’ in action.
I know there are lots of people who have varying views when they hear the words ‘Big Society’. Well for me, I’d like to put a spin on the phrase and say ‘God’s Society’. What do I mean by this? A society where everyone thinks of one another and of their neighbour; a society where everyone wants to help, not under compulsion but because they want to and truly make a difference whatever their gift or talent or ability may be. A society where everyone counts, everyone has a voice, everyone feels wanted, everyone feels valued and everyone feels noticed. What a fantastic, glorious, God-honouring and life-changing ‘Big Society’ that would be!


Sarah Redford (Guest) 27/02/2011 14:34
Love your vision of the big society and feel sure that God is working in Great Yarmouth to make it happen.
Helen Blackburn (Guest) 27/02/2011 17:36
Rob and Georgina spent some time in Edinburgh when they were cadets. It's really inspiring to see the great work they are doing in Great Yarmouth.