This month we have updates from our teams in Whitley and Witham. Enjoy!

 

News from our Whitley Team:

A month into lockdown, after a myriad of emotions, stories, statistics and an unclear end in sight; we felt it was necessary to provide a platform where these experiences could be shared to collectively acknowledge our new reality and most importantly, to bring hope and positivity in our everyday lives. So, in the month of May, we conducted a series of webinars with different people from the community on subjects such as family life, caring for neighbours and your street, young people thriving in lockdown.

To begin with, the ‘Family Life in Lockdown’ was a series of 4 webinars with 6 families mainly from Whitley, but also from the wider Reading area. These families came from different kinds of households, professions, ages, and a number of children in each of the households. The basic premise of these webinars was that “We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.” This gave the participants and attendees a bigger picture or the idea that everyone is experiencing this time in a manner that is unique to each one, more so, that everyone’s experiences are valid and need to be heard and shared.

For instance, the 1st webinar touched upon the joys and struggles of life in lockdown and the impact of it on themselves, their families, and relationships. The 2nd webinar explored the idea of how “it is okay to not be okay” and acknowledged the different ways in which individuals receive, understand and process thoughts, feelings, emotions, and information. The idea of using listening skills especially with children to empower and validate their emotions was also looked at. The 3rd webinar sought ways to understand and find peace amid uncertainty in our personal, professional, and social life; also, the fact that “you can still know peace without knowing what comes next.” The 4th and last webinar in this series suggested gratitude as a way to respond to the current situation, to be thankful for what we do have; to appreciate the gift of living in a family, and also the uniqueness of each person and how they see the world around them. Click HERE to view the playlist with all 4 webinars.

Next, we launched the ‘Love Your Street’ campaign to help build community in every street and neighbourhood by focusing on creating healthy relationships, a sense of belonging and trust. We brought together 3 wonderful women from Whitley and 2 from the wider Reading area to share their experiences on looking out for neighbours on the street, the joys and struggles of this intentional effort and practical tips on how we can all build community wherever we may be, especially during this time. Some key points included focusing on what we can do as opposed to what we cannot do, in the sense, we need not worry about the entire street or neighbourhood, but begin with what is possible according to our own capacity. Find likeminded people on your street who you can work alongside to reach out to the most in need. Not a partner in crime, more like a partner to spread kindness and love! Take courage and persevere, do not be pulled down by the initial setbacks and finally, appreciate and enjoy spontaneous conversations and gestures. You can find this video HERE. In addition, you can have a look at the ‘Love Your Street page filled with resources to help you reach out to others!

Last in our webinar series was ‘Young People Thriving in Lockdown’ which brought together 4 teenagers in Years 10 & 11 to share their experiences on how this time has impacted their life, be it at school, at home, their friendships, as well as future plans. It also explored the different coping methods used by each of them, following which they gave a message to encourage other young people for this time.

Besides the webinars, we had our community prayers on the 1st Friday of the month and community dinner on the last Friday as usual, although now on Zoom. Claire and Anika delivered 2 more sessions of the Foundations Course on ‘Giving feedback in relationships’ and ‘Self-definition’.

We are preparing for the South Reading Churches Fun Day which will take place on 11th July! Connections have been established with a local radio station that will help bring everyone together virtually on the day and we are getting the word out online and through our church networks. Lastly, we intend to begin detached youth work in the Whitley Wood area soon, so that is exciting! It has been lovely to have more people joining our morning prayers from Tuesday-Friday at 9 AM.

News from our Team in Witham: 

Witham BB&GA has definitely missed all our weekly activities from community festivals, youth sports, Brigade meetings (5-8 year old Anchors on Tuesdays, 8-11 year old Juniors on Wednesdays, 11-15 year old Company and 15-18 year old Seniors on Fridays), Christian Outreach in Schools, our planned holiday club and even our weeklong summer residential.  Every aspect of what we do has been impacted by Covid-19 this year.  We do our best to stay involved with our communities, families, young people and volunteers through Zoom meetings, group messages, emails, at home activities and various challenges.  As restrictions are relaxed, we’ve started meeting with our adult volunteers in keeping with social distancing guidelines.
We look forward to resuming our full range of programmes as soon as circumstances allow.  It’s the face to face interactions with all the people we care most about that we long for.  Pray that every is well, happy and ready to build on the amazing relationships we are lucky enough to belong to.

Thank you for reading! We hope you are keeping safe and well, wherever you are. Come back next month for another update 😊

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