How Margaret nurtures Anglicare’s connection with the Anglican Church
Margaret Savage is our parish community development worker. She is an important link between Anglicare and parishes of the Anglican Church.
We recently caught up with Margaret to find out more about her role.
Q. Firstly, why does Anglicare have a connection with the Anglican Church?
As our name implies, we were founded by the Anglican Church. This was back in 1983. At that time mortgage rates were sky high – up at 18.5%. Bishop Henry Jerrim was concerned for people on low incomes. So he drove the establishment of a charitable organisation to offer Tasmanian families, regardless of faith, free financial counselling. This entity became known as Anglicare Tasmania.
Now, 37 years later, Anglicare employs nearly 1000 people across the state and delivers a broad range of services. We still provide financial counselling, but we do so much more.
Despite our growth, we’ve never moved away from our foundations. Our partnership with the Anglican Church has continued to drive us. It is in response to the Christian faith that Anglicare does all we do. And we are guided in this mission by the values of compassion, hope, respect and justice.
Q. What do you do to nurture Anglicare’s connection with the Church?
In a nutshell, my job is about relationships – being away from my desk and actually going out and about to talk with parish communities across Tasmania. I try to be an approachable human face for the organisation. My goal is for people to feel connected to and support the work we are doing at Anglicare.
It’s a role I’ve held for over 7 years now. And it’s a role that I still absolutely love. Because of my Christian faith, it’s more of a vocation rather than a job. For me it’s something deeply meaningful. To the point where there’s no distinct line between my work and my life.
Q. So, what is it exactly, that you chat with parish communities about?
My role is educative, as well as to inspire and support. I let the parishes know about the work we do and how this is making a meaningful difference to the lives of many.
When I first visited parishes, I had to convince people there was a poverty problem in Tasmania. I had to explain to people about the kinds of systematic problems and unexpected life challenges people experience.
Now poverty is better understood, my focus is more to encourage people to act, to show their love of God through what they do. I encourage people to dream about how they can help. I say to them, “You don’t have to fix the whole problem, just a little bit”. And this is often all that it takes, to empower people to act.
I’ve been heartened by many acts of kindness over the years. Parishes are genuinely reaching out to Tasmanians in need.
Many of their missions involve quietly providing boxes of groceries from the church door, or collecting donations of food and other essential items for Anglicare to distribute. This keeps me fit – picking boxes up from churches and delivering them to our supported accommodation facilities and offices.
Parishes also have people who offer companionship. There are a number of church groups who visit our supported accommodation facilities and do craft or gardening or cook a BBQ for the tenants.
Not to mention the parishes with missions on a larger scale. Recently, in Ulverstone, a mobile soup van has opened to feed people experiencing homelessness or struggling with paying the bills. In St Helens the local parish runs a furniture shed and provides a place for homeless people to spend the night. In Hobart’s Sandy Bay, the Wellspring Church feeds around 60 international university students every week.
Anglicare offers Parish Grants to contribute towards the costs of these larger missions. And I let parishes know about this possibility and assist with the application process.
Q. You also visit schools – what work are you doing with the students?
I collaborate with schools with a connection to the Anglican Church. In Hobart there’s Hutchins and Collegiate, and in the north there’s Launceston Church Grammar. These schools actively support Anglicare’s fundraising appeals as part of students’ learning about contributing to the community.
I like to explain Anglicare’s work in ways that students can engage with and relate to. I enjoy thinking up fun ways to make young people think. Like setting a challenge to eat a tin of cold baked beans – without providing the right equipment like spoons or a can opener! There is always a point about poverty and disadvantage in these talks.
Q. What do you find most fulfilling about your role?
I have a great love for the church, for what it can be. The Bible talks about shining the light for God and this has great meaning for me. My role with Anglicare, working with the parishes and schools, allows me to live this. I find it fulfilling to encourage others to be the best they can be, and to walk alongside people who are experiencing challenges.
You can find out more about Anglicare and our connection with the Anglican Church, as well as the pastoral support we provide at About Us