Journeys into Caring Community
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There is a lack of literature specific to the longitudinal experiences of participants in socially-inclusive faith-based caring communities. Such communities often have participants who have suffered experiences of exclusion and marginalisation. There are implications from those experiences for improving participation and belonging not just in local communities but also society. The study was located within the bicultural context of a small town in Aotearoa New Zealand in a Caring Community under the umbrella of the Anglican Church. A narrative inquiry process was chosen to capture participants stories of coming to the Community, participating, and developing their own sense of belonging within the group. These stories were re-told and analysed using a process of narrative analysis. The values of the community embraced bi-culturalism, holism, a Christian ethos, equality and reduction of hierarchy. Structured conversations were held with seven adults who are participants of the Caring Community with results showing that they found it a safe and respectful place to be, where they can express their spirituality and develop mutually beneficial relationships. Common themes emerging from the resultant narratives included increased safety, belonging, family, identity, participation, progressive inclusion, cultural respect, and an increase in wellbeing that provides clues and indications to future practice and policy when providing assistance to marginalised groups, that is client-centred and owned. Additionally there are implications for generating inclusion and caring communities in more mainstream church communities for increasing holistic wellbeing and caring relationships.