Mother’s Day is not easy for everyone. If that is the case for you, the meditation below may be helpful. It has been prepared by Lesley Shatwell and its focus is Loving Kindness. Be kind to yourself.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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.
And in an emergency, call 999.
The Farnham Helpline 01252 745446 is open from 10am until 4pm for anyone who needs help because of Covid – shopping, prescriptions etc.
Also, if you need pastoral support please let a member of the clergy know. Alan and Lesley can be contacted on 01252 820537 or by emailing:
You can also contact the church office:
07842 761919 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The NHS Volunteer Responders are active and available to support with collection of shopping and other essentials in all areas. You can call them for free on 0808 196 3646.
How can you help the Foodbank? They are generally well stocked up, but are always short of certain items which they highlight on their website. They also have posters of these specific requests at food collections points: Waitrose, Nationwide, Wine rack on Ridgeway and Co-op in Rowledge.
Brightwells Community Meals are running and have the capacity to accept more clients. You can get in touch with them on email@example.com.
These community meals can support those living alone, or in residential facilities, and provide a freshly cooked hot meal.
Picture by Jonathan Sanchez on Unsplash.
There is an interesting article about the additional problems of dealing with grief in lockdown on the BBC News website, and tonight (Tuesday, May 10), Rio Ferdinand talks about how he and his children have coped with the grief of losing his wife, their mother, from cancer. You can see Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad at 11.45pm on BBC1.
The increased effects of grief at this time is something that Wendy Edwards, Licensed Lay Minister in the parish, has been considering and she shares her thoughts below:
What I think may be happening for some people, maybe quite a few people, who are grieving the death of a loved one, is that extended periods spent in your own home, often with reminders of your loved one all around you and an inability to have the normal tactile comfort of cuddling or kissing your other family members due to lockdown, are increasing your sense of loss and sadness.
This makes perfect sense in psychological terms but is difficult to experience. You may like to know about this if you wonder why you are struggling more with grief, if you are – and you may not be, we are all different.
Grief is felt not just when a loved one dies. It is also felt in all sorts of other circumstances. These are all causes for grieving in older adults just now: –
- Loss of mobility or worsening senses of hearing, eyesight, taste etc or worsening health generally – you grieve for your mobile self or your healthy, hearing, seeing self;
- Pain- you have lost your pain-free self and you grieve for pain-free days which you did not realise you needed to appreciate as pain -free!
- Loss of a job or role in life, homemaker, breadwinner, carer of your loved one all cause grief, if you do not have these roles any more;
- Separation from family members for other reasons, maybe due to distance or disputes or arguments – you have lost the happy close connection you once had with them and there is real grief to work through;
- Ageing – none of us can stop the passage of time and we can all grieve for our seemingly lost younger selves (I think we contain all the ages we have ever been);
- Inability in lockdown to see your friends and family, to hold or kiss them;
- Inability to escape the confinement of your home or the confinement of your grief.
The list could go on, but I hope you see my point. If you are getting on with things and keeping busy, as many of you are, that’s great. Your grief may be held at bay for a while, but it will likely surface at unexpected moments.
Grief can be held down but, like a jack-in-the-box whose lid has been held down, it can spring up when you least expect it. It takes energy to hold grief down and when it is released (hopefully in tears but not all of us can cry) there is healing in tears. We may feel anger or frustration, remorse, or guilt in grief too, or any human feeling really.
At these times, if you are suffering, please do not despair. We all have increased grief in the lockdown and those who have lost a loved one will be feeling it worse. It will pass in time. It can take three to five years to heal from the worst of grief over the death of a close family member and sometimes longer. Some losses are more painful for different reasons. It is no cause for shame or concern if your grief is taking longer or feels worse now.
Reach out as much as you feel comfortable to trusted friends or family and your support network. Or indeed reach out to your GP also, if you feel you need to. They are available for consultation regarding emotional, mental, or physical health matters, over the telephone or online. Or contact Alan or Lesley Crawley, join rectors of the parish, on 01252 820537 or firstname.lastname@example.org or
With all good wishes, Wendy Edwards LLM
God loves a cheerful giver
A scriptural quote which helps me when I overwork, which I first saw on a church Gift Aid envelope, is ‘The Lord loves a cheerful giver’, but a bit more of the passage is more instructive.
2 Corinthians 9.6-7 (NIV): 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
It is easy to just think of the first sentence about bountiful sowing bringing bountiful rewards as, probably, we all want to do that, but the two sentences are juxtaposed for a reason, I believe. They are, for me, an encouragement towards generous giving but also a warning against giving compulsively or reluctantly.
When I have been over busy in my ministry, I need to ask myself – if I can discipline myself to stop long enough, even to ask! – these questions: –
Am I cheerful in my giving in ministry right now?
If the answer is ‘No’ or ‘Not Very’ or ‘I am downright grumpy about doing one more thing for my parish’, I need to look at the start of that sentence: ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion’.
Am I acting under compulsion, believing I have no choices? I always have choices, even if it is just over my attitude.
Am I making thoughtful decisions about giving or just doing what I think I must do?
Is this giving coming from my abundantly grateful and Spirit- filled heart or is this coming from a depleted spiritual bank?
Am I doing this because I think that if I do not do it, no-one will?
Is this energy I am expending in ministry, energy which I can afford or is it draining an empty tank?
Do I have enough energy left for my nearest and dearest?
Am I reluctant to continue because I am exhausted, if I can be truly honest with myself?
The Old Testament also has something to say to me: Isaiah 30.15 (NIV):
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
Those of us (including me) who overwork, do identify with those last seven words ‘but you would have none of it’ when we are in full flow of overwork. Repenting our overworking ways is anathema to us at these times.
Rest seems the thing we must not take, forgetting entirely that God works mightily while we rest and that we are saved by faith and trust in God and not by works.
Quietness, whether of ourselves, bodily, mentally, spiritually, emotionally or quietness of our mobile ‘phones, laptops, computers, iPads, headphones or telephones seems an impossibility for us at times.
Trust. Aye, there’s the rub, as Shakespeare said. Can we trust anyone else to pick up jobs we have not done, to pray prayers we have forgotten to pray, to care for those we have not cared for?
Yes, we most assuredly, can. God, who will never leave us nor forsake us, will never leave nor forsake others either and can be trusted to do (or even to leave alone) all these things and more. God, through Christ Jesus, the Son, may decide: –
- to do things differently
- to do things at a different speed than I would have done them or
- to not do anything at all – I always forget that one
And maybe, just maybe, the outcome will be a teensy-weensy bit better than I could ever hope for or imagine. Maybe then I will also get round to doing other things, which only I can do for myself, which I never have time for. It’s not only God who loves a cheerful giver. I love myself much better when I am cheerful in my giving and my nearest and dearest like it better that way also.
Wendy Edwards, Licensed Lay Minister
The current lockdown has the potential to cause many of us mental health problems. If you can, try to talk to someone about it. The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123. You can also visit www.samaritans.org/
The Church of England has some useful resources here.
Picture by Dyversions from Pixabay
If, like me, you are stuck indoors self-isolating, you may be wondering what you can do to keep yourself as healthy as possible mentally as well as physically. After a while binge-watching Netflix, or playing endless games of online Scrabble (other word games are available) loses its appeal, and you probably shouldn’t allow the children to spend 16 hours a day on their phones/
computers/PlayStations/all three at the same time.
Fortunately there are lots of good ideas out there to help you fill the time and we have started compiling them so that we can share them and help preserve our collective sanity.
Keep the faith
For a start (this is a church blog after all) there are lots of spiritual resources and we are adding to our Faith Online page regularly. We also have a great forum with a mix of spiritual and other resources. Sign up here, then read, listen, watch, and discuss!
Get into the garden
If you have a garden and feel well enough to get out into it when it isn’t raining, gardening is a great way to clear the mind and focus on something other than the current situation. It is also intrinsically positive. You are preparing for the future, planting for a better time ahead. I’ve not yet got the energy to do much but next week maybe… You can order plants and seeds online or ask someone who is out and about to look for some for you. If you need someone to go to a garden centre for you, email me here and I’ll ask someone.
In the meantime I found this article which I thought might be helpful. It’s American but works this side of the Atlantic. Go on – Dig for Victory!
Singing is good for the soul
You probably heard about the singing from the balconies in Italy and Spain. We don’t have as many balconies here but there is still singing. Vic Cracknell, a man who has done more than most to encourage live music in Farnham, has started live streaming music on Facebook. He does a mix of genres and today I heard him performing Elton John, Carole King, Vera Lynn, The Beach Boys, and some of his own compositions. Find him here.
I’ll add some more links to others as I come across them.
Watch a West End Show
It’s story time
Remember Little House on the Prairie on the TV? It was based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and tells of the childhood of Laura herself in pioneer America in the late 19th century. If you haven’t read the books, now could be the time. Listen to Ruby2kids reading the first of the series Little House in the Big Woods. She’s reading a chapter a day and it is a delight whatever your age! Find her on YouTube here.
Laura Ingalls Wilder appears on a list compiled by Enchanted Hour Reading. It comprises books to help children make sense of their current circumstances. What is it like to live alone or within one family/ small friendship group while isolated from the world? These are books to enjoy together and some to read alone.
Get the colours out
Colouring is good for your mental health and very satisfying. Jules Middleton has some lovely colouring sheets here which will absorb you for hours. Be soothed.
That’s it for now. More coming soon.
And thanks to Sergey Shmidt on Unsplash for the lovely picture.
Thursday, March 19th
As we continue to work out how to live under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, we will be offering offering ideas and resources to help each other. Please do let us know if you can help or need help, or know someone who does. Email us here.
At the end of the school day tomorrow schools close for all pupils apart from children of key workers and vulnerable children. The effects of this will be felt across all society and again we will be doing what we can to support people. Teachers and former teachers are offering to give advice and help where they can. Among those offering locally are Carolyn Weston and Rachel Wright. Carolyn, a retired teacher, is happy to give general email advice, via parents, to children who may have some work set or some homework to finish, and Rachel’s specialisms are Key Stage 3-4 Science and A-Level Chemistry. If you want to contact them, please do so via the parish admin email email@example.com and we will put you in touch.
A prayer in time of need:
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
This is just a reminder that EVERYONE is welcome to the churches in our parish. God does not discriminate. God loves and welcomes all of us, whoever we are. Sometimes the church doesn’t appear to offer that welcome, particularly to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary or intersex, but all are welcome in this parish, and we work to challenge discrimination and exclusion.
Our inclusive values mean that we extend this challenge to all areas of discrimination and we belong to Inclusive Church, a network of churches, groups and individuals uniting around a shared vision:
“We believe in inclusive Church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality. We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”
We will get it wrong. If you feel excluded or discriminated against, tell us. But let’s work together to offer God’s welcome.