Category Archives: Pastoral Care

In Praise of Home Groups

What the heck is a ‘Home Group’?

Turn the clock back a good few years and my only idea was it was it definitely wasn’t something for me. Surely a ‘Home Group’ (aka, Bible Study, small group, study group, cell church – even Lent Group) was full of very holy, serious people, who actually knew where things were in the Bible and had been going to Church for ever, prayed regularly and knew all the answers and who would tell me I just had to ‘Have Faith’. Without doubt they would find out I was a fraud and only went to church because it was a good place to take my kids on wet Sunday mornings. There was no way I was going join any ‘small group’.

So what changed? I now enthuse about small groups any chance I have. I even lead one.

First, let me dismiss all of that absolute rubbish about the perception of what a ‘Home Group’ consists of. I have never been to one which was full of ‘serious’ people. Honestly, we spend a lot of time laughing. Not everyone prays regularly, not everyone believes everything, or even the same things. There are people in groups who are very new to church and some who have been going to church all of their lives but still have questions. Even in the early days no-one accused me of being a fraud and never did they dismiss my questions.

I’ve now been to lots of groups over the years. Weirdly they are all different – probably because they have consisted of different people and had different themes. I’ve loved some, felt challenged by others, but every time I have met and become closer to the people in that group. The only similarity is that they all consisted of people who are trying to get closer to God.

When I started to go to church I didn’t really get to know people. I didn’t know everyone’s name, I didn’t know where people lived or much about their lives. It was a long time until I felt that I wasn’t a visitor. I think it was belonging to groups that changed that.

I had been on the PCC for a while before I ever ventured into a ‘Home Group’. I was a busy mum with a full-time job and time was very precious. Then the PCC had a visiting speaker and an initiative called ‘Forward with God’ was launched. PCC members were ‘encouraged’ to go to one of the groups which were set up to follow the course.

I found I enjoyed it and got to know the people involved and was sad when the course ended. I think that there were about six groups and at the end of the course only one continued – not the one to which I had been going. I found I really missed it so I took a deep breath and joined the one that was continuing – and I can honestly say it was one of the best things I ever did.

To me being in a small group is church. Groups are inclusive, welcoming and eager to grow. Somehow, belonging makes you want to do more for God and become closer to the person you are intended to be. The people in the group form relationships because we share our thoughts and learn together. Over the years, my faith has grown and my relationship with God has deepened.

Through home groups, I have made real friends – people I can rely on, people I trust absolutely, people who help out, people I can cry with and have lots of laughs with; they are my ‘go to people’ and yet they are always so welcoming to anyone new.

At the moment, groups are continuing on Zoom. I really look forward to when we can gather again in person. We’ll advertise when that is happening. Why not give it a try?

Maxine Everitt

The May magazine is here

Our May magazine is out now, a bumper edition this month with information about the elections for Surrey County Council members and the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner. Please read their statements and please vote; if we don’t bother to have a say we can hardly complain about the people who are elected.

There is information too about events going on this month including our Farnham Flower Festival (online again, of course) which is being sponsored by our favourite florist Florescence, and plans for the fete in July. Please get involved in both. There is news about new rooms to hire, an article on grief, information about taking part in Christian Aid Week and much more, plus, of course, lots of great adverts with services, offers and classes.

Download it here:

Yellow ribbons and prayer for National Day of Reflection

A National Day of Reflection is taking place on March 23, the anniversary of the start of the first lockdown. The parish is marking the day by offering special services on the Sunday before – March 21.

At the services there will be a chance to reflect on the year and in particular to remember those who have died during the past 12 months. There will be prayers and yellow ribbons for people to tie in the churchyards in memory of those who have died. Many who have lost a friend or family member will not have been able to attend the funeral service, making the process of grieving more difficult.

Lesley Crawley said: “On March 23 it will be a year since the start of the first lockdown. We had no idea then how tough it would be or that a year on we would be in our third national lockdown.

“It has been a time of great anxiety and for many great grief as they have lost family and friends and may not even have been able to attend their funerals. The church is there to offer support and one way is through our services which we hold both in person in the churches – we have Covid regulations in place – and online. You don’t have to believe in God to come in and seek peace and comfort – the church is for everyone.”

The church services on March 21 will be at St John’s, Hale, at 9.30am, St George’s, Badshot Lea, at 10am and St Mark’s, Upper Hale, at 11am. There will also be a service on the website from 9am.

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.

Help us say thank you with flowers

UPDATE: Enough people have volunteered for Wednesday. Just need some car drivers for Thursday morning. Book via this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0D4AAAAA2BA2F4C16-abunch1

Is anyone in Farnham free tomorrow morning (Wed 3rd) or Thursday morning (4th)? Help is needed with bunching and then distributing daffodils to all the surgeries, pharmacies, care homes and the hospital with thanks from the Farnham community for all their ongoing hard work.

On Wednesday (3rd) we need people to go to the foyer at Farnham Maltings between 9.30am and 12.30pm to attach small cards to each bunch of flowers saying who they are from and helping to organise them, ready for distributing on Thursday. There are 500 bunches to get through.

Everyone will be seated at their own workstation in the foyer, two metres apart. Please wear a mask when you are in the building and make use of the hand sanitiser provided. Please also wear warm layers -as the space will be well ventilated. If you have fingerless gloves bring them along too. Bring a flask with a warm drink and any snacks you might want.

Sign up to help here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0D4AAAAA2BA2F4C16-abunch

On Thursday (4th) people are needed to distribute the flowers for a short period between 9.30 and 11.30am. You will need to come to Farnham Maltings on Thursday morning (you will be assigned a slot when you sign up) and pick up your flowers, a high-vis jacket and lanyard so when you drop them off they know you are a volunteer.

When you deliver the flowers, please take a moment to explain why the community is doing this, and pass on an enormous thank-you to those you are delivering to.

Sign up to help here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0D4AAAAA2BA2F4C16-abunch1

Support a neighbour

Have you got a few hours to spare? Could you help someone who needs company or assistance with practical tasks?

Farnham Neighbours’ Network, a new buddying initiative, aims to build sustainable friendship in Farnham, fostering neighbourliness, providing practical support and combating loneliness.

This local network is looking for volunteers: people with good listening skills and an hour or so to spare each week who are interested in getting to know someone new . In the current lockdown, the focus is on supporting people and combatting loneliness through social phone calls, which means you can safely volunteer from home.

In the longer term, volunteers will be needed to support others with learning how to use a new piece of technology; to do some light DIY and gardening; to go for walks and more, in line with the ambition to have a network which supports the needs and wishes of the town’s residents.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or simply finding our more. click on the link here or email the coordinator Erin Beesley: erin.beesley@farnhammaltings.com

The FNN coordinator links volunteers up with a neighbour based on proximity, interests and the support they are happy to give. All volunteers receive a DBS check and will be given full support to ensure they feel confident and safe in volunteering.

Farnham Neighbours Network is run by Farnham Maltings in partnership with Farnham Town Council.

Picture by  Ave Calvar on Unsplash.

Additional grief in lockdown

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 revd.alan@badshotleaandhale.org or
revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org

With all good wishes, Wendy Edwards LLM

The kindness of strangers (and schools)

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” (Matthew 25, v. 35).

It feels like a dark and anxious time at the moment with deep divisions in the country and real fears for the future, especially for those already on the edges of society. However, from time to time something happens which shines a light into the darkness.

Such a light was shone when, on Friday, October 11,  some unexpected visitors turned up at St Mark’s. Five pupils and a member of staff from Edgeborough School arrived, unannounced, in a van stuffed with bags and bags of food for the Farnham Foodbank. They had collected the food as part of their Harvest Festival celebrations and had given with huge generosity.

The six of them unloaded the van, piled the food high, stopped for a brief photo, and disappeared again, leaving behind more than 220kg of food. We didn’t even know their names and they won’t know the names of the people who receive their gifts. It was a real moment of unexpected light and sharing between strangers. Thank you!

It shouldn’t be the case in 21st-century Britain that people have to rely on foodbanks but that is a reality for increasing numbers of families. Between April 2018 and March 2019, for instance, the Trussell Trust’s foodbank network, with which the Farnham foodbank is associated, distributed 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year. More than half a million of these went to children. The Farnham Foodbank itself gave 1,499 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis last year.

We are all vulnerable to crisis, none of us intend to be. But sometimes, like Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, we find ourselves depending on ‘the kindness of strangers’. And when Jesus was challenged in Matthew 25 to answer “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” he replied: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

A heartfelt thanks to Edgeborough School and all those who donate to Farnham Foodbank.

 

Talk reveals modern slavery in the UK

“If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t” was the message of a talk on modern slavery and human trafficking, delivered at St John’s Church, Hale, on May 22.

The talk, by Suzette Jones, health and wellbeing adviser for the Diocese of Guildford, revealed that, more than 200 years after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, there are still an estimated 40.3 million men, women and children trapped in modern slavery in the world, and up to 136,000 potential victims in the UK alone, according to the Global Slavery Index. Some of these are hidden in plain sight in our communities – as cleaners, in nail bars and car washes – and Surrey and Hampshire are known to be home to particularly large numbers of enslaved people living in our streets.

Suzette explained that the victims of modern slavery are often vulnerable people who thought they were being given a chance to escape their troubles for a better life – an education, a job, somewhere to live – and are often groomed over time so that they don’t realise what is happening. Once enslaved they usually live in fear, either for themselves or their families or both and so cannot escape. While many come from abroad, many are from the UK and in 2017 the UK had the most victims of slavery in the world, with Albania and Vietnam a close second and third.

The talk, which was accompanied by a film based on a true story about enslaved men working on a farm, detailed some of the signs of slavery to look out for, including people working long hours without the proper protective equipment, lack of money, language problems, not having identity documents and having strange injuries. Car washes and nail bars are particularly known for using slave labour and there is a smartphone app – the Safe Car Wash app – which offers a short survey about the working conditions of car washes, and since its launch a year ago has been used more than 2,000 times with 41 per cent of the reports showing a likelihood of modern slavery. A nail bar app is following soon.

Behind the work to tackle modern slavery is The Clewer Initiative, which works with church networks to develop strategies to detect modern slavery in communities and help provide victim support and care. It relies on individuals to understand and report signs of modern slavery and anyone concerned that they may be witnessing slavery is urged not to tackle it themselves but to call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700, or 999 if someone is in immediate danger.

The talk was part of a series of events to mark the 175th anniversary of St John’s Church, Hale. The church was founded by Bishop Charles Sumner, Bishop of Winchester and resident of Farnham. He was a cousin of William Wilberforce who worked for the abolition of slavery in the early 19th century and whose son Samuel became Bishop of Winchester after Charles Sumner retired.

For further details of The Clewer Initiative and how to spot signs of modern slavery, visit www.theclewerinitiative.org. For further details of the St John’s Church, visit www.badshotleaandhale.org

 

Pictured above is one of the campaign posters for The Clewer Initiative.