I was asked to give a three minute (!?!) summary of B.A.R.K. at the Annual Billericay Civic Service, in Matt Everard’s absence, about how it began and where we are at the moment.  This is what I said:

Most of you will know me as the Team Rector here in Billericay, but today I’m speaking on behalf of Matt Everard – who can’t be here today due to a prior commitment –  who has been instrumental in setting up B.A.R.K.

Just when you think there’s already a huge amount of service organisations and hobby groups in Billericay, an idea comes along that grabs people’s imagination. This is true of B.A.R.K.

So what’s the background to B.A.R.K? In the February ‘Around Town Magazine’ Matt wrote how the stresses of life, work, and raising children in a challenging world, had an impact on his sense of fulfilment and happiness. And how, when recovering from Aussie Flu over Christmas, he made a New Year’s Resolution to engage in ‘Acts of Random Kindness’ in 2018 after he: “… experienced a nice feeling (doing something similar in 2017) knowing he had made a small difference to someone’s life.”

Matt and I first met through the save ‘Mr Stumpy’ campaign! We’ve met up several times since, where we shared our thoughts to get Billericay residents involved in ‘Acts of Random Kindness’. Matt has graciously said that I made some good suggestions in helping him to work through his ideas – I have my moments! I came up with the name/acronym B.A.R.K!  Honestly!  B.A.R.K was launched early January and currently has around 2500 members signed up on Face Book.

What Does B.A.R.K Do?
B.A.R.K is a movement, rather than an organisation, engaging in and inspiring ‘Acts of Random Kindness’ in Billericay.

We are going to work together to improve things in our town and create a great community by pooling our resources to help others. Kindness. Happiness. Friendship and Community.

Many people want to be involved in good deeds, but often don’t know where to start. B.A.R.K has provided a platform for people to get started.

There has been a whole host of exciting  ‘random’ initiatives taking place, especially this past week, such as: Path clearing; Shopping; 4×4 owners to ferrying people to and from hospital appointments and picking up vital prescriptions and medicines; Free Professional advice; repurposing Prom Dresses; Collecting magazines for Saint Luke’s Hospice; overnight bags for parents at Broomfield children’s ward  (Black Square on Radford Way have offered their premises as well, as creating a website). Thanks to a generous local business, B.A.R.K are providing defibrillators for two Schools. Future initiatives include: Free First Aid Courses; Afternoon Teas for the elderly; a project to transform a pre-school play area … and so the list goes on.

What About The Future?
B.A.R.K is growing on a daily basis, so we’re setting up a Steering Group to help us do more – I’ve been invited to be part of this. This group will help to plan events, note offers of help, manage donations, and provide a central point for communication.

What Can You Do?
Look out for opportunities to offer an ‘Act of Random Kindness’ to a stranger or, if you’re the recipient of one, to pass it on to someone else. In my February ‘Around Town Magazine’ article I suggested that It could be:

Running an errand; tidying someone’s garden; picking up litter; paying something towards the grocery/petrol bill for someone behind you in the queue; giving a complete stranger a box of chocolates or flowers!  You’re only limited by your imagination.

And Finally …
All of us here: churches, service organisations and town councillors want what is best for our community as we work together for the ‘common good’. This is why Billericay is such a great place to live and a great place to serve.  And that’s something, if you pardon the pun, worth ‘B.A.R.K. ing’ about don’t you think?