Twenty six years ago, Peter Parkinson, a Baptist minister in Leeds, and members of his congregation were faced with a challenge to their faith that would change lives forever.
In 1986, several homeless young men started attending Leeds Reformed Baptist Church. This plunged some of the church members into a whole new form of outreach. They were challenged to follow Jesus' example of reaching out to those in need.
This is how Caring For Life began. A separate registered charity was formed and prayer letters were sent to a number of churches across the UK.
In 1987 a home was donated for the most vulnerable homeless young men attending the church. The three pictured on the right (from the left, Gary, Owen and Colin) were the first to live in our residential home. Carey House was opened in order to share the love of Jesus, by offering security, safety, love and respect for the men for life, or as long as they wished to stay.
Crag House Farm became the base for daytime activity projects, a place where vulnerable, socially excluded people could begin to re-build their lives.
The projects at Crag House Farm started with a flock of free range hens; since then agricultural, horticultural, conservation, art and craft and woodwork projects have developed, along with adult literacy, office skills, music and drama.
Caring For Life's ministry grew rapidly and for a time it was also involved in setting up children's homes in Romania, through CFL International. CFL was asked to help to share Jesus' love in a land where much persecution and great suffering had been the order of the day. These homes are not run by CFL now, but are still much-needed and functioning.
CFL's Resettlement work (now known as our Being There Housing Support Project) also took off. The need to support people in their own accommodation was greater than ever. Those who chose to move out of CFL's homes and live independently needed ongoing support, but the Trust also received daily requests to house young people who had nowhere else to turn. The staff team grew as we endeavoured to reach more and more people who were suffering and struggling with 'ghosts' of the past.
With the help of Action Time, a Yorkshire Television programme, CFL built a new workshop in 1995. It included a vehicle maintenance facility, a fully functioning woodwork area and much-needed storage for agricultural equipment.
Crag House Farm had kindly been secured for the Trust by supporters and a donated timber building had been put up by the staff and young people themselves, to provide catering and recreational facilities for those attending the daytime projects.
By the goodness of God, CFL were able to purchase Tindall House. Eight men, including some of those who were in the original Carey House, received a new home. The group of men gradually became a real family.
Generous donations allowed the purchase of polytunnels, opening up opportunities for disabled people to come to the farm for work experience and making it possible to share the love of Jesus with yet another needy group of people.
After a period of fundraising, CFL was then able to open another supported home, based on the same principles as Tindall House, but this time for women.
We are amazed at how far the Trust has come, and can only put it down to God's goodness and grace in providing us with a loyal, supportive group of people who pray and support this ministry every day, every month, every year since its inception, and we pray, on into the future.