26/11/21 • iConnect Team

iConnect - Making international connectionsBook Review

"iConnect has been an extended family for us in the UK…we really value that all the people stand by each other in any situation be it good or bad.” - Rachit

This quote just about sums us up. iConnect is a community of people from all around the world.  We love to celebrate our different cultures, faiths, traditions and backgrounds (including those from the UK!)

Our community is made up of people of all ages, families, individuals, students, those in work, those seeking asylum and refugees.

Our aim is to be a welcoming community at HBC, in Heaton and in Newcastle; to share God’s love by eating and meeting together in various ways.  It is about forming friendships, having fun and supporting each other. 

What does iConnect look like? 
Prior to lockdown last year, we focused on a monthly event held at HBC involving food and all age activities but since then, we have had to get more creative! Our active WhatsApp group has been a great way to keep in touch with everyone over the past 18 months. We have had lots of doorstop visits chatting, catching up and sharing activity bags containing some fun tasks such as growing plants and baking; we have also had fitness competitions and quizzes. More recently we have met for walks, picnics, a beach trip, a couple of bike rides and a treasure hunt round Heaton. A bit of friendly competition never goes amiss!

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The pandemic brought the opportunity to spend more time with each other on an individual level. This is something that we have really valued and we are keen to continue building these relationships as we start to resume some of our larger gatherings.

Since English is not always people’s first language, online events can be difficult. The opportunity to mix in social gatherings and practice English has been restricted during the last 18 months, so more recently, with the help of some HBC friends, we have been able to offer weekly one-to-one English conversation.  This has been really valuable to our group for both practising English and building community.
Why is iConnect important?
Many of our group have left behind close family and friends which can make life much more difficult at times.  Many different cultures are used to enjoying large family gatherings and miss that when they come to the UK so our monthly meetings try to offer some sense of that. 

“I love every moment whenever I am with iConnect. It gives me a feeling of family where people don’t judge you for being from another faith but they embrace you as individual. Sharing a meal together gives you a sense of togetherness especially when you are so far away from your family.” - Purbasha

Sometimes practical help is required given that people may have recently moved to Newcastle and don’t have the same connections or support network and consequently don’t know who to ask or where to start when seeking help.  This can be as simple as helping someone with a phone call to a GP, reading letters from utilities companies or putting flat pack furniture together (less simple!)

“To me, iConnect is a group of people who come together to have a fun time, learn different cultures, languages, food and at the same time share the message of God, respecting each other’s opinions and helping each other in our needs. I value being part of iConnect because I have learned something different from each person. I have also improved my English but most importantly I have seen the love of God reflected in each person.” - Ligia

Our team is made up of a wide range of people from HBC with varying levels of involvement. If you are interested in joining our team, becoming a part of an international community, making new friends and eating delicious food, then please get in touch. We would love to see you at our next event! For more details, contact office@heatonbaptist.org