Dog 3. I eat shoes.

Peter and the Friday Club team were looking forward to running some special events to mark the club’s 20th birthday this year. Now it looks as though those events will turn into 21st birthday celebrations instead! Peter and Carole Davison started ‘Friday Club’, which meets at St Philip’s Church in Plaistow, for the children and young people of the vibrant inner-city community where they live. Even after twenty years of building relationships, shining God’s light, providing a welcoming space, sharing experiences and rising to challenges, the challenge brought by the Covid 19 lockdown was a new one! Read on to see how the faithful and creative team of ‘Friday Club’ volunteers rose to it.

During club night a week or so before lockdown, the children obediently washed their hands when asked. This was not a normal reaction! Times were definitely strange! By the following Friday it was clear that lockdown was coming and that the club couldn’t meet. The team packed up the special Mothering Sunday frames which were due to be decorated that evening (plus an assortment of things to decorate them with) and delivered them to the children’s homes. This provided an opportunity to chat with the children and their families and paved the way for future packs. Very quickly too, Peter prepared a video for the families in which he asked them how they were doing and included ‘at-home fitness exercises’ with a well-known fitness coach, a ‘how to make’ biscuit recipe, a challenge involving items most people would have at home, a chapter of ‘The Upside-down Kingdom’ (CURBS) and the ‘Friday Club prayer’.

Further videos have followed weekly. As the weeks have gone by, there have been more and more contributions from the Friday Club children themselves, from the saying of the prayer to the teaching of sign language. This all sounds great, and it is, but Peter became aware that not all of the twenty or so families who were receiving the videos had internet access, and even if they had, there was no guarantee that the children had opportunities to engage with what was being sent. Communication was necessarily via parents’ phones, and the family adults were often juggling too much to engage in extra ways with the children.

The families had already received a ‘Good Friday Club’ pack of Holy week and Easter activities via Royal Mail, and now Peter and the team started to send regular packs in the post. These include quizzes, colouring sheets, a ‘Beano style’ Bible story and models to make out of card. There is little feed-back but the videos and packs provide a good talking point when the team see families at the local shops, and as we’ve noted before, everyone likes receiving a package with their name on it, through the letter box. When, eventually, the Friday Club children are free to run through the doors of St Philip’s again, I think we can be sure that the contacts so thoughtfully maintained and developed during lockdown will have made more difference than Peter and the team know.

Many thanks for sharing your story, Peter.

P.S. Peter is also Chair of CURBS trustees, and the ‘Upside-down Kingdom’ episodes are available on the CURBS website for you to access and enjoy.

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