“Holding onto hope”: families welcomed to St Catharine’s weekly summer activity days

Published: Friday September 8, 2023

A woman spinning a plate over her head with children behind her in the sunshineThroughout the school holidays, St Catharine’s Church in Gloucester held a weekly activity session called Summer Wednesdays @ St Catharine’s, welcoming families from across the area to a morning of free fun and food.

For six weeks, the church was open from 10am to 1pm every Wednesday, offering activities for children and their carers. The team of volunteers provided sports, games, music, circus skills and different crafts.

Using a grant from HaVinG – A voice in Gloucester, which provides grants to charities, organisations or individuals working to prevent or relieve poverty in and around the Gloucester, and donations from the worshipping community, the church was able to feed and support nearly 100 people each week. The local Domino’s Pizza restaurant also provided food for one of the sessions.

Each session included a Bible story and songs with the children, and together they took part in creating a set of banners that reflected on Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

A prayer space was set up for quiet reflection, and people had time to talk with friends and helpers over cake and refreshments. The church also provided a hot lunch with up to 85 people being fed each week, as well as a supply of emergency food available.

An eight-year-old child who came to the days said: “I hadn’t eaten since yesterday so I ate up all my lunch, it was yummy.”

One parent commented, “Thank you so much, it has given me a safe space to breathe while the kids have fun.”

While another said, “You have helped me hold onto hope this summer.”

The Revd Jo Pestell, vicar of St Catharine’s, says, “I’m so grateful for the many people from church who helped make this happen every week, giving time, money and skills, as well as underpinning everything in prayer.

“Most weeks we had over 100 people coming throughout the three hours, and it was wonderful to see so many children and the wider community enjoying themselves. We were particularly grateful for the £720 grant from HaVinG and the support from Domino’s Pizza, as well as for the generous donations from within the church family.

“It is hard to see people struggling for food, with loneliness or in other ways within our community. Our aim was to extend God’s welcome and point those who came to the hope that is found in God, and we felt we have been able to make a bit of a difference for people, as well as the joy of getting to join in with what God is doing in this area.”

Do you have a story to share about ways you are living out Christ’s love and hope in your area? We’d love to hear it. Contact ku.gr1716812207o.coi1716812207dsolg1716812207@ylle1716812207k1716812207



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