Last Sunday I announced our next move.
The Rt Rev’d Paul Williams, the former Bishop of Kensington, now Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham is appointing me, as from the beginning of September, as his interim Chaplain. Therefore, Joanna and I will be moving into Southwell at the end of August. We are excited about this and indeed it tempers our sadness on leaving our many friends and the ministry we have loved in Isleworth.
With his current Chaplain moving on to a new post, he is taking the opportunity to review the best way to structure his team and so my appointment is an interim one, for up to 6 months. During that time, I will be exploring with him new opportunities for me to serve in a parish, I very much hope in his Diocese. I am greatly looking forward to working with him and his team, to a new emphasis in my ministry and also for the opportunity to get to know a new Diocese.
We spent much of Thursday in Southwell, looking round and meeting people. It all now seems much more real! Southwell, with its magnificent minster church is where the Diocese has its offices and the Bishop lives. It’s a pleasant market town and we will enjoy getting to know it, although we do not expect to be there for very long. I’m very much looking forward to working closely with the Bishop.
Jubilee House, a modern building, is where all the Diocesan and Bishop’s staff work. Open plan, I’ll have my desk there – quite a change from what I’ve been used to for all the time I have been working. However, it felt very appealing and practical to have everyone together in one big space – Bishop (of Sherwood,) Archdeacons, Chief Exec, Registrar, Advisors, Schools Board, etc.
The new shed in the corner of the car park at St John’s is a ‘bike hub’ for The Bike Project.
The Bike Project (TBP) opened in March 2013, and since then has donated over 2,000 bikes. They give second hand bikes to refugees and asylum seekers, run bike maintenance workshops and run a project where refugee women are taught to cycle from scratch. A proportion of the bikes donated are sold and 100% of the profits go back into supporting their charitable work.
TBP is a community of refugees, mechanics and volunteers, which includes bike hub members. They rely on a steady donation of bikes from generous individuals and organisations. Their workshop in Denmark Hill is a great space, but not always convenient when someone wants to drop off a bike. Not least as they don’t have the luxury of a full time van and driver, they work through a system of bike hubs, local drop off points for people to gift their old two wheelers to TBP.
27,000 bikes are abandoned in London each year. Just one of these bikes can help an asylum seeker get to crucial appointments and save them £21.20 a week on a bus pass. When you’re living off £36.95, that makes a big difference. One day, they hope to give a bike to every refugee wanting one. Please only adult or children’s complete bikes in any condition, not accessories or parts. A ‘complete bike’ is one with all of the components, including both wheels.
All donors are asked to fill out a bike tag when they arrive and attach it to the bike. TBP wants to thank everyone that donates a bike to us and keep them updated. They also need to check the bike’s registration details on the national bike register. Dave Young (079 1783 8447) is coordinating things for us.
Tom (on holiday this week) has officially handed in his notice, and his last Sunday with us will be the 25th June. We hope the final service might be a special occasion. Tea, coffee and cakes served from the back of the church will follow the service to allow for a short farewell.
The summer fair on the 24th June will also provide a chance for many people from the parish to catch up with Tom and Jo informally. Although Tom and Jo will no doubt reveal all in due course, there seems to be more clarity for them about where they might be going in the next stage of their ministry, which is good news.
Church family picture
Before Tom and Jo leave, the PCC thought it would be a good idea to attempt a church photo to replace the one in the porch of St John’s which is several years old now. After the service on June 4th, therefore, we will congregate outside for the photo. Please come along that Sunday to be included if possible (including our St Mary’s congregation!), and pray for good weather!
July and August 2017
After Tom’s final Sunday, both Tom and Dave will be on leave and the church will be without clergy for the summer while the PCC work through the transition in the parish. This is a good chance for people to step up and help! Please support the Churchwardens Brian and Gayle and the PCC as they manage church life through this time. Visiting clergy will conduct services across July and August.
Discussions are at an early stage with Our Barn about possible shared use of St Mary’s Hall in the future.
Our Barn is a youth club, supporting young adults aged 16 to 25 with learning disabilities and/or conditions such as autism. We have 28 members and started in 2012 as a Sunday youth club based at Redlees Play Centre. There is a log cabin there and the young people called the club Our Barn because they felt ownership of the space.
Set up by three parent carers, as we could not find worthwhile and affordable activities for our own young people. One of our strongly held principles is to make our provision meaningful. One way we do this is by volunteering in the local community.
Our current activities are:
- Sunday Youth Club, social & leisure activities chosen by the young people, to develop communication and life skills by the use of drama, art, sport, cooking & going out into the community.
- Tuesday Sports Activities, physical activities following leaving formal education.
- Wednesday Carers sessions, ie help with paperwork surrounding disability to family carers and also counselling for emotional support.
- Friday Gardening Work Experience at Osterley Park, which has been running for nearly two years. We’ve donated 4,000 volunteering hrs.
We have plans in the next 12- 18 months to develop in Gardening Work Experience (including on land adjacent to St Mary’s,) in providing employment for 3 people with learning disabilities, in linking potential employers with candidates, in life skills programmes and an adapted cycle hire scheme.
Our longer term goal is to establish a hub. Here, we could increase what we offer and have our own dedicated space (needs to be Osterley/ Isleworth.) We’d like to bake cakes for sale at local coffee shops. We’re also thinking about creating some supported living opportunities, close by those who know and understand their needs.
The Green School for Girls has served Isleworth and the wider community since 1796. The Green School has been a formative part of life for many of us whether as students, parents, staff, teachers or governors. This coming September, the Green School will be accepting its first cohort of 120 boys. The site for the Boys secondary school will be just over the road on Busch Corner backing onto Syon Park. The new school aims to provide a strong emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, and rumour has it the boys will be expected to keep fit by running around the field before lessons start each day!
I am fortunate to serve as a Director on the Green School Trust despite very limited experience of this sort of thing! Our hope on the board is that the Boys school can build on the fine history of the Girls school and become a great local success story. Further, our hope is that local life can be enriched by both schools working closely together and with strong links into local churches and the wider community, including for us at St John’s.
Hounslow borough has faced an acute shortage of primary and secondary school places in recent years. The Department for Education works very closely with the Diocese of London Board for Schools and the Church of England is seen as a key and trusted provider of Christian-ethos schools in the London area. The Green School takes its Christian ethos seriously and the presence of an excellent chaplain at the Girls School ensures pastoral support, spiritual development and Christian teaching are on the radar within a multi-cultural and multi-faith student body. The school has strong links with church communities already and occasionally the girls come down to St John’s to visit as part of their lessons. But, soon, I hope and expect the boys will also be visiting!