Has the Church deviated from the original model?
Winner of the Best New or Redesigned Website award, Tim Burton, shares the history of Church Urban Fund and why we shouldn't be discouraged by likes and page views since our impact (through Christ) on people's live can't be measured by analytics
What inspired you to create Church Urban Fund?
Church Urban Fund was set up by the Church of England in 1987 as the Church of England’s response to urban poverty. We’ve evolved since then; now we work in three ways:
- We have the Together Network; this is a network of local community workers who work to increase and amplify the social action work of churches across the country
- There is the Near Neighbours programme which works in England’s most diverse communities to bring together people of diverse faiths to work together to make their neighbourhood a better place to live through social action projects.
- The Just Finance Foundation is working to create a financial system that is fair for everyone by training people to manage money smartly and increasing the reach of Credit Unions in England.
In 2016 Church Urban Fund got a new look. We now have a ‘sunbeam’ image that is representative of the light of Christ shining into communities and lives across England. As a part of that new look, we got this lovely new website!
What was your first reaction when you heard you won the award for Best New or Redesigned Website?
Surely not? Surely they have the wrong envelope? Did we really just win that?! Oh all those long nights building the website were worth it!
What does winning this award mean to you?
We really did put so much hard work into getting the website to look good and we were so proud of what we’d achieved because it was such an improvement on the previous site. To have our pride in our own work validated at the Premier Digital Awards was really great!
How has winning the category impacted your work?
It has given us vindication and self-belief. Now when we add new parts to the website we do so with a real self-belief that what we’re doing is good and will strengthen our work. It’s also giving us a bit of new life online; we’re excited by what this means for our online future.
What are your plans for Church Urban Fund in 2017?
There are too many plans to count! We’re launching the Big Pancake Party that will take place on Shrove Tuesday to raise money for those going hungry in England. You can see that whole section of our site here.
Other than that, well, you’ll just have to wait and see!
How important is the Premier Digital Conference in today’s modern Christian community?
It’s very important. The digital world is flying forwards at a million miles an hour and it’s hard to keep up with that. The Church can sometimes respond a little slowly to change but it’s important that Christians are in these digital spaces; these spaces can so often be full of an unpleasantness that is borne out of people’s vulnerabilities being both consciously and unconsciously laid bare online whilst they hide behind a screen. It can make the Internet feel like a hateful place sometimes.
The Premier Digital Conference and Awards are a great way to encourage and inspire the Church into these quickly evolving digital spaces; spaces that could do with a bit of Christian humility and kindness.
What advice would you give to Christians with a digital project or idea that they want to launch?
You may or may not reach millions with your project, but if you inspire just a handful of people with your work, then it’s worth it. Get stuck in, create good content and don’t worry about followers and page views; this is about sharing the light of Christ in our world – even Google hasn’t invented a metric to measure your success in that!
How can people get in touch with you?
Well, of course, you can take a look at the award winning website to learn more about CUF, but if you have any specific questions for myself and our website time, then you can email email@example.com or call 0207 898 1452.
Follow this blog for all the latest news on the Premier Digital Awards & Conference.