Helping a range of voices to be heard.

Published: 16th June 2020

James Henderson is a Senior Development Worker for Transforming Communities Together (TCT), which works across the Black Country. They are encouraging people to get involved in Paperchains, a way in which a range of voices can be heard about the Coronavirus pandemic. Here he explains the project: 

Something I have been thinking a lot about recently is who is missing? In the story of the Lost Sheep, the reckless love of Jesus causes him to leave ninety nine sheep who are safe at that moment, to “go after the lost sheep until he finds it” (Luke 15:4 NIV).

I was therefore very excited when the Revd Deborah Walton, Curate at St Mary’s Church, Enville and St Peter's Kinver in the Diocese of Lichfield, put me in touch with Al Smith, a member of the St Mary’s congregation. His work in prison libraries across Staffordshire has been highlighted by C4’s Secret Millionaire and BBC Radio 4’s PM. He had the brilliant idea to provide a voice to people who have experienced prison, homelessness or who have served in the armed services, and their families during lockdown. He has called this initiative ‘Paperchains’ and it’s something that I’m honoured to champion. Paperchains aims to ensure that when the history of the 2020 Lockdown is written, the voices and the lived experiences, of those often less heard are not lost. He says his aim is to create “a proud record of the voices that are crying out to be heard just as much as everyone else. I want us to create something that future generations will study as they try to understand what this time must have been like for those who lived through it.”

Paperchains allows us to get involved. Proverbs 31:8 encourages us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves”. The best way that we can do this, is by first listening to, and then magnifying the voice of those with lived experience. Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee put it like this: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Many Churches and Christian projects are doing vital work supporting those experiencing homelessness. Can we encourage those we are journeying with to record their responses to the lockdown and send them in? It can be a journal entry, a short story, a poem, a drawing, sketch or painting. These will be curated for an exhibition in 2021 and an accompanying book

Entry deadline: 5 July 2020 (the date the NHS was established in 1948).

For each category there will be BRONZE/SILVER/GOLD awards. Those who are selected to be a part of the 2021 exhibition will receive a commemorative wristband.

Entries can be sent to: Paperchains, PO Box 7482, Stourbridge, DY8 9HH











I am the Senior Development Worker for Transforming Communities Together (TCT), a Joint Venture between the Diocese of Lichfield and the Church urban Fund across the Black Country, Staffordshire and Northern Shropshire. I’m proud that TCT is able to support Paperchains, as we recognise the need to give a voice to those who are so often silenced – now more than ever.


Page last updated: 16th June 2020 9:17 AM
Bookmark and Share