Brushstrokes is a partnership project between Father Hudson’s Care, the Infant Jesus Sisters and the parish of St Philip Neri. Established in the year 2000, the project was founded when the parish priest invited the Infant Jesus Sisters and Father Hudson’s to become involved with the local community. The aim was to support the most vulnerable people and live in solidarity with the hidden poor.
Brushstrokes’ services have developed over the last decade, particularly in response to the needs of newcomers. Initially, the work was to engage with asylum seekers and help them to establish a place of safety in the UK. This is still a key area of work and in this area of Smethwick, with its ever-growing super diversity, Brushstrokes now welcomes people from over 60 countries.
The work with refugees continues to expand, helping them to rebuild their lives and settle into new homes, education and work in Sandwell. The core activities are driven by the needs of the people who use the services, both in the community and those identified on outreach visits.
Brushstrokes’ vision is encapsulated in its name, which takes its origin from an inspiring phrase of Blessed Nicolas Barré: "We must be in the hands of God like a brush in the hands of the painter."
The core activities depend enormously on the support and dedication of volunteers, who are supported by a staff team consisting of an ESOL Co-ordinator, an Outreach and Housing Co-ordinator, a Resources Co-ordinator, a Resources Assistant, an Administrative Assistant and a Project Manager, Teresa Clements.
Father Hudson’s Care recruits, employs and supports all of the staff and assists with the recruitment and clearances for volunteers. The Head of Community provides supervision and line management to Brushstrokes’ Project Manager and also chairs the Management Committee. The Finance Manager provides accounting support, reports at each Management Committee Meeting and provides management accounts and financial forecasts.
One of the most important aspects of support provided by Father Hudson’s is writing funding applications to grant-making trust, including the National Lottery and many other well-known funders. This is time consuming, detailed work which requires a sound knowledge of all of the services Brushstrokes provides, as well as its future plans. Father Hudson’s Care’s fundraiser works closely with the Project Manager and the team at Brushstrokes to help secure crucial funding.
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