BBC RADIO BERKSHIRE OFFERS AIRTIME AND SUPPORT TO COMMUNITY PROJECTS IN MAIDENHEAD
The WEEK BEGINNING THE 26TH JULY
A couple of weeks ago I had an answering machine message from a lady called Audrey from BBC Radio Berkshire asking me to call her concerning a program that the station was trying to put together. When I phoned Audrey, she was rather relived to get a response as she had experienced problems trying to make contact with potential groups that day. Audrey explained that Radio Berkshire wanted to help charities and community groups within Maidenhead. I informed her that there was plenty going on within the town although some groups had been impacted by the Covid pandemic. The program is aimed at projects coming out of Lockdown rather than the excellent community work that went on supporting vulnerable people during the Lockdowns.
The first group I made mention of was a group that I had only recently been made aware of when their organiser Amy Lovell contacted me to ask if All Saints Church, Boyne Hill would like to be a beneficiary of GoodGym’s work. I jumped at the offer knowing that our quadrangle was in need of gardening and our parish centre in need of a lick of paint. GoodGym I believe is the perfect response to the Pandemic. Many people we are told are struggling with wellbeing and this group offers a wonderful remedy. They begin an evening by running, cycling, walking or jogging short distances or occasionally long distances to a venue where they are met by their ‘trainer!’ I have added an exclamation mark as I was the designated ‘trainer’ on the evening that they first arrived to begin their work. 16 women worked for an hour clearing large amounts of weed and started work on the decorating. They returned this week to complete the decoration and you can read the report below. This group then offers the opportunity to do physical exercise, share friendship with other group members and do wonderful community projects.
The second organisation I made mention of was Street Angels. This group was started over a decade ago by the former vicar of St Peter’s the Revd Mark Balfour. Like GoodGym it is a national organisation and similar to another group called ‘Street Pastors’. I am the current chaplain to Street Angels and volunteers go out on Friday and Saturday evenings to support people out in Maidenhead. This ministry is basically a ‘Walk Around’ ministry where the Angels talk to young and not so young people out for a relaxing evening. The Angels carry bottles of water, flat shoes, lollipops and can get access to the occasional sleeping bag for someone in need. The water comes in handy for re-hydrating some folk, the flat shoes help those who have been wearing 6inch heels all night, and the lollipops are in the main used to start conversations but on one or two occasions have been used to defuse heated arguments. Yes, believe it or not offering a Kojak lollipop to Tyson v Hollifield pretenders really can lead to laughter! Seriously one of the most important roles for an Angel is making sure that a person who has perhaps had a little too much alcohol can be helped to get home safely. Young people frequently comment that they feel safe on the streets of Maidenhead and the owners of the clubs and bars are happy with this ministry too. Occasionally you get the privilege too of offering food to someone hungry. A number of the shops in Maidenhead provide chicken or Fish and chips free of charge to help those struggling.
Another organisation from Maidenhead is a group called All Sorts. This group offers activities, bible stories, hospitality, singing, keep fit exercises and wonderful summer BBQ’s. The evenings take place at St Mary’s Church Hall and at All Saints Church quadrangle in Boyne Hill for the annual BBQ. The group is made up of adults who have faced educational challenges of varying degree, The group are a joy to share with and the session always finishes with us sharing a box of All Sorts sweets reminding us that God loves us all. This group that has members from Catholic and Church of England communities has been running for about 15 years.
The final group that I mentioned to Radio Berkshire is ‘Maidenhead Care’. This group has been running for over thirty years and has perhaps had the greatest impact supporting the people of Maidenhead over that time. Volunteers offer support to people by getting shopping, taking people shopping, organising lifts to hospitals and doctors surgeries, and helping with other practical support. A recent example of support was to a person who needed to visit a relative who was seriously ill at Frimley Park hospital. The person driving enabled the person to see their relative without the worry of complicated bus travel.
There are many more wonderful groups across the town including ‘FoodShare’ and the ‘Brett Foundation’ and you can find more about them on their websites.
Street Angels – Go to Facebook and search for Maidenhead Street Angels – www.facebook.com/maidenheadstreetangels
All Sorts – Sue on 01628 676750 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all who make Maidenhead a supportive place to live.