Claire Knight - Church & Community Outreach Team Leader
I grew up as an only child just down the road in Bagshot. Every Sunday I attended Sunday school at St. Ann's Church until I joined the Church Choir at the age of 9. I went on to be part of the Youth Fellowship group held every Sunday night and that is where my Faith really grew. I made many friends on my early journey with God and I am still in touch with many of them now even though we are scattered all over the world.
Having spent 18 years working for Barclays Bank including the post of Branch Manager at Wokingham branch, in 2007 I decided that my real passion was to work alongside young people. I joined the then East Berkshire Education and Business Partnership where I developed, managed and delivered enterprise projects to Secondary and Primary schools across East Berkshire including some larger scale corporate inter school events.
In 2011 I came to work at Wokingham Methodist Church having played a significant voluntary role at St. Michael's Easthampstead in Bracknell. Since then I have worked to develop and grow our Church family through various activities and groups.
I am married to Russell who I met at work in 1994 and have two beautiful teenage daughters, Eleanor and Lauren and a young dog named Bailey! We are very happy living in Jennett's Park.
I am delighted to be undertaking the role of Church and Community Outreach Team Leader where I plan to enhance our work with all generations within our community drawing them closer to God through fellowship and ministry through the Coffee House, Bradbury Centre and beyond.
This is an exciting time for our town and indeed our Church as we are at the centre of the town's redevelopment and an increasing population as Wokingham grows, it is my wish to ensure we always offer a warm and friendly welcome to all we come into contact with and to embrace the changes that God is providing.
The Alzheimer's Café is the biggest piece of outreach work that I think we host as a church. The Café now welcomes around fifty people including carers every fortnight. We went on several trips last year ranging from afternoon teas, garden centre visits, golf clubs, and a brilliant Christmas Party at Swallowfield Park which we are able to use free of charge. We had speakers from Project Gateway and Guide Dogs for the Blind among others, we often have hand massages given by Susie and memory boxes brought in regularly by Heather Dyson from the Library.
We are very blessed to have a fantastic team eager to make the lives of those affected by dementia happier. Val Gent volunteers tirelessly for us organising our activities and trips and has become a firm friend of many who attend carrying on with her work during the week, visiting people and taking them out. We have introduced a 'Donations' money box on each table for people to contribute to cover the cost of their refreshments. We were delighted to have been given some money by MORS this year which enabled us to purchase an 'Active Minds' box which is full of brilliant engaging activities. I am now on the Wokingham Dementia Action Alliance together with other service providers and the council. The aim is for Wokingham to become a Dementia Friendly town. This is a big task!
Alzheimer's Carer's Group
The Alzheimer's Carers Group runs on Tuesdays fortnightly and is for those caring for someone with Dementia. The cared for are in an adjacent room with myself and support from Wokingham Carers hub and we sit and chat, make things and play games. Due to the nature of the group, we have found that we need to restrict the numbers of people as many of the people living with dementia can become unsettled without their carers so the group can sometimes be tricky to manage. Therefore this group is by application only.
The group sometimes just have a time of sharing and sometimes they have speakers around things important to them such as Power of Attorneys, Personal Hygiene and Occupational Therapists.
Mince Pie Giveaway
In December a team of volunteers met and helped wrap 500 mince pies kindly sponsored by Clifton Ingram. This year we started at the slightly later time of 7am which worked really well. The platform announcer Tony was brilliant and announced us at regular intervals to weary commuters.
Jesus Crew still runs a minimum of twice per month during term-time. We have a few fantastic volunteers on the team and we use material from Scripture Union's 'Light Live'. We welcome between 2 and 10 children to the sessions.
In 2017 our Holiday Club was Polar Explorers, we welcomed 56 children to a week of crafts, games, bible stories and cooking!
The club was as popular as ever and everyone had a brilliant week. We were so lucky to have James and Hannah Bowstead doing the music which made a huge difference. I was also delighted that so many young helpers came along to support us throughout the week.
Church @ 4
Church @ 4 continues to be popular with people coming along from across the generations. We always start with crafts in the meeting place followed by worship in Church and then tea.
Church @ 4 was very quiet in summer and in December, so we have decided that we won't hold Church @ 4 in April, August and December.
This is a massive part of our ministry in this Church as for some families this is the only church that they attend.
All Age Worship
We continue to hold All Age Worship on the third Sunday of the month and we are finding that this regular pattern is very beneficial as people know when it will be happening. Anyone is welcome to help plan our All Age Worship, the planning is fun and it's great to share as many ideas as possible to make each service engaging for all generations not just children!
I have been asked to be a mentor for one of the ten interns who the connexion has appointed on the 'One Programme'. This is an annual programme where graduates are placed to undertake a particular project. My Mentee Abigail is based in Rome but we have managed to meet face to face and also via the wonders of Skype.
Gail Adcock from the Connexion has also invited me to be part of a team writing a 'Family Ministry Toolkit'; this work involves me travelling to Birmingham quarterly to meet with the rest of the team and working on my own element of it in the meantime. I am honoured to be part of this exciting project.
2017 has been a challenging year but I am extremely pleased with how the Bradbury Centre continues to be a thriving community centre. The work that goes on here is phenomenal and it is vital that we continue to provide a warm and friendly welcome to everyone who uses our premises whether just passing through or staying.
I cannot reinforce enough the need for each and every one of us to cherish the vast array of gifts that this church community has to offer both within and outside of our Church building.
Thank you to every single volunteer who has supported our ministry to the community surrounding us. 2018 will be an exciting year for us as we find ourselves at the heart of the new Peach Place.