Category Archives: Children and Youth

Farnham Heath End reflects at St John’s

This week we welcomed students from Farnham Heath End School to St John’s on the National Day of Reflection on March 23, when they tied ribbons in the churchyard and lit candles in the church in memory of all the people who have died in the past year and in support of those who have been bereaved.

Eight students visited the church on behalf of all students in the secondary school on the day which marked the first anniversary of lockdown.

Leo, a year eight student, said: “It is important to remember that this disease has claimed so many lives and left so many families distraught. I don’t know if we took all the right actions to minimise the loss of life. If this was ever to happen again we should remember these times and try to learn from them.”

Dan Conquer, assistant principal at the school, said: “A year ago we could not have comprehended the loss of life on the scale we have seen and so many families affected. Our students were very reflective as we all considered the events of the past year. Being at the church was a really poignant opportunity to mark that. Our thanks go to St John’s for organising this event.”

St John’s was also open for the three days from March 21 to 23 so that people could visit to tie ribbons on the trees and light candles inside in memory of those who have died.

The Poems and the results: The Farnham Lockdown Poetry Festival

Thank you to everyone who entered the Farnham Lockdown Poetry Festival. We had 56 entries from adults and children alike, with ages ranging from eight to 80+ and lots of strong feelings about the struggles of lockdown, but also the togetherness and the hope that people have found, despite all the difficulties.

The poems are available to download here:

and a video of some of the poems being read is available below. Also, though it was almost impossible to choose between the poems, a decision was finally made and the Mayor of Farnham announced the winners in the video.

The winning poems are:

Adults

Winner

Two Lockdowns A Lifetime Apart

The Second World War began when I was just four
The Coventry Blitz was like a firestorm from hell
Later that week I burst into tears when I saw
My toy shop Owen Owen was a burnt out shell 

Rationing, conscription and lights blackened at night
This was a long lockdown lasting almost six years 
Countless houses and buildings laid waste was our plight
Near half a million deaths left many in tears

Seventy-five years later in twenty-twenty
Few people can claim they saw what was now coming 
A virus takes hold to disrupt years of plenty
As it spreads round the world the I-phones are humming

This invisible virus now needed a plan
The instinct in shock is to gather together
But to widespread dismay a new lockdown began
Keep two metres apart at all times wherever

With deaths quickly rising and restrictions imposed
Stay at home, avoid friends and even relations 
All but food shops were shuttered and schools were all closed
Wedding parties were banned and all celebrations

I worry my age group holds the country in thrall
We are lucky to have lived so long to this age
It is we who must be careful and should now call
For the economy to be let out of its cage

Being twice locked down it is all but in tatters
The outlook for young people is truly blighted
Surely for their sakes alone all that now matters
Is that their futures be quickly reignited

John Littlewood

Runner up:

Love Your Neighbour As Yourself

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
through screen or window, darkly.
Muffled, crackled, frozen. ’Help!’
‘Can you hear me?’ Hardly.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
through greying hair and slowing hours.
Dull repetition, same old heft,
grace of God in breeze or showers.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
but what means as and how fares Self?
We are God’s hands but when My Self,
when love poured out soon threatens Self?

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
when sacrifice is hellish hard.
Exhaustion beckons, ‘Pain! Now quell!’
and chaos reigns in your backyard.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
wash the bodies, dig the graves.
Tender care the greatest wealth,
tears of love for all they gave.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
desist from posting online hate.
Don’t bully, scam or hurt by stealth,
or suicide might be their fate.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
when home-penned folk cry out in pain.
When tempers flare, without behest,
‘When will we see our friends again?’

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
when out of work graph rises steep.
Everyone needs better, best,
for damaged mental health wounds, deep.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
vaccines roll out to the people.
Schools return and wedding guests,
bells will ring from tower or steeple.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
pubs reopen, shops restock.
Meet with friends and family,’ Yes!!’,
hugs, kisses, treats, as doors unlock.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
when loved ones’ deaths have maimed you.
Remember humour, chuckling chest,
tearful teas and talk refold you.


Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
Please keep the distance, wear the mask.
Do take the vaccine, take the test,
washing hands not much to ask.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
make time to think and time to rest.
Properly to think ‘No stress!’
how love of Self confers the best.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
clamouring calls you can resist.
Your self-care struggle now confessed,
put Your needs first in To Do list.

Wendy Edwards

Children:

Winner

A Lockdown Poem

Schools have closed
Working from home
Missing family and friends
Will this ever end?
Doing lots of calls
Kitchens into school
Whether it’s computer or phone
Everything happened at home
Clapping for heroes
Rainbows on the windows
Watching the news
Feeling confused
People staying in
Why is that a thing?
Having lots of bubbles
Missing lots of cuddles
Staying with your household 
If it’s hot or cold
Lots of things have stopped
Many bubbles have popped
But we’re staying safe at home
And are never really alone.

Matilda Bowden (9)

Runner-up

Coronavirus

Coronavirus has wrecked all of our lives
Oh how I wish I could punch it
Rage takes over me and I cannot control it|
On the inside I have pain
Now is the time we fight
Anger is the only feeling I can feel
Vans with deliveries come by, wishing us luck
I had covid and I don’t want it to come back        
Run, for covid is here
Understand me please I can’t take this pain anymore
Stand with me, we will defeat it together

Elsie Howard (8)

Space2Breathe

If you and your family need a bit of a breathing space in lockdown, we may be able to help.

St George’s Church has joined up with Hale Community Centre and Space2Grow in central Farnham and all three are opening our doors to families who need to get out of the home and into a different space.

From Monday, February 8, families will be able to book a session in any of the three and allow their children to play or do schoolwork there with support from a volunteer who can also be a listening ear for parents. They can do so by emailing space2breathefarnham@gmail.com

The scheme has been developed in response to the growing mental health pressures that families are facing during lockdown. Many parents are struggling with working from home while trying to home-school several children, look after pre-schoolers, and run their households.

“The pressure on families is immense and we know that it is having a serious effect on mental health across the ages,” said Norma Corkish, chair of trustees for Hale Community Centre.

“Parents are getting to the end of what they can manage to juggle and many children are feeling frustrated and are struggling to do all the school work which schools are legally obliged to set. As one parent said ‘I am going a bit stir crazy being at home on my own’.

“Offering safe spaces where parents can bring their children is a practical step towards helping the families. Children can have some freedom to run round and play, engage with another adult, go for a walk, get some support with home schooling or whatever will help give a period of brief respite from the stresses of the current restrictions. And the parents can have another adult to talk to.” 

The spaces will have some teaching aids such as flip charts but families will need to bring their own toys and school resources.

The scheme is offering morning and afternoon sessions and the organisers hope to be able to increase the number of them if there are enough volunteers. Volunteers are needed to spend an hour either in the morning or afternoon with a family in the spaces and be willing to go for walks with the families. The organisers would also like to hear from any students who could spare some time to be an extra pair of hands. Anyone who can help should contact Cathy Burroughs at the Hale Community Centre on 07471 180958 or halecommunitycentre@gmail.com

Children’s Mental Health Week

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week and it can’t come soon enough. All around us young people are struggling – lockdown, home-schooling, missing friends and family, anxiety, exam pressure, no space of their own. Some have added pressures – they may have parents or siblings working on the frontline, they may have lost someone during the pandemic, be ill or have a friend or family member who is ill. Some are living in homes where they do not feel safe.

There are lots of resources to help, particularly on the website www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/ This year the theme is Express Yourself. Finding creative ways of expression can be a huge boost to mental health. Art, craft, music, poetry, photography and drama are great ways of expressing our feelings and can make us feel better. There are ideas on the mental health week website, and some  free virtual sessions led by experts and familiar faces across acting, art, content creation, dance and writing. 

We are running a lockdown poetry festival so why not have a go at expressing your feelings in poetry – and encourage your children to do too.

If you need further help there are people out there to offer it. Don’t struggle on your own. Childline can be a great source of support for young people – 0800 1111 – and we have a list of numbers in the poster below.

Please do feel free to contact the clergy – revd.alan@badshotleaandhale.org
revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org
01252 820537.

And in an emergency, call 999.

Reports of our death have been exaggerated

You may have read or heard national media reports on the Church of England in decline and dire consequences ensuing. Well, not on our watch. The parish has been bucking the trend and is seeing growing congregations both online and in person.

Though we were shut for many months last year because of Covid, we’ve seen new people coming to church when we have been able to be open and lots of people joining in online with our services, groups and festivals we have run.

Lesley Crawley says: “This has been a time of extraordinary change for us all and we have had to adapt to the challenges and respond in a way which meets the needs of those around us. Going online had been one obvious response and it is something we should have done years ago, alongside our services in church. There are lots of people who would like to come to church but can’t for whatever reason – disability, caring responsibilities, ill health, shift work and the like – so being able to access online services when they like is a real bonus.  What’s more they can take part by recording readings, prayers etcetera.

“We’ve also really involved people in the services in the churches themselves, ensuring that it’s a whole-church event rather than just the same people standing up the front and speaking. So we have families doing drama for instance, or reading poetry and they have really enjoyed it.

“But it’s not just the numbers, we have also thought carefully about how we relate to everyone around us. So we have, run online events – our latest is a poetry festival – and looked at how we can use the buildings better, make them more accessible, change the way we do outreach, really get serious about church health and develop ambitious plans for the future. We have seen this as an opportunity to understand what our community wants from us and how we can share God’s love with everyone so that everyone feels welcomed and valued whoever they are and whatever their circumstances.”

Watch out for more changes and growth as we continue to seek God’s will and respond to people around us.

Picture: New growth by Agatha Valenca on Unsplash