We have started going to a new Church - well it’s new to Mr. HCB, but I went to this Church at Gorse Hill from the time I was 3 years old until I was 21.  I met Mr. HCB through a friend and he was involved in the Youth Club at Immanuel Church, so I decided to attend with him and we got married there a few years later.  We attended Immanuel Church for many years and then Lawn Community Church until the lockdown, when like many others, we just attended Zoom Services.

However, our circumstances have now changed, so we have been attending Gorse Hill Baptist Church and have decided to become members - if they will have us!  We’ve been duly vetted and are now waiting for the Church Meeting to agree to us being members, which should be sometime towards the end of May.  This Church does a lot of work in the community and I decided I would like to get involved - well I have to have something to do when Mr. HCB is either at cricket or out in the garden for hours on end!  

The Church runs a Community Fridge, where people can come and choose 5 items of food, for which there is no charge, but they can make a donation if they wish.  It’s funny the way you imagine things to be but when you see the reality, you wonder why you were so naive.  

When I tell you that as a little girl at Gorse Hill, we were encouraged to pray and support those missionaries “on the mission field”, I imagined that all the missionaries were, yes, that’s what I thought - all in a BIG field!  

Today, I imagined a very large fridge piled with all sorts of things that go in a fridge, but when I arrived this morning, the room in which the fridge sits had tables all round the walls, with every food item you could think of, such as bread, cakes, biscuits, eggs, vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions etc etc, fruit, crisps, salad, and even bunches of flowers.  These are given to the Church by local supermarkets because many of the items are past their sell-by dates, so cannot be sold, but are still in good condition, which means the Church can help the community and people can obtain free food.

The stipulation is that they are allowed only 5 items from either the fridge, and there are many things in there - or from the tables.  I could see that the queue was building up by the time I arrived at 10.30, and people were waiting for the doors to open at 11 o’clock.  I understand that people come from all over Swindon so the word has got around.  

I started off my “shadowing” with the lady who weighs the amount of food that the customer has chosen, but then moved on to do a couple of other jobs, including chatting to people in the café, where a cup of coffee and cake can be purchased for just 50p - well having got so many “lines” in my life for talking, that was a good place for me to be.  I had some lovely conversations and look forward to more in the future.

Behind this room is another which had tables full of all sorts of tinned food and packets of breakfast cereal, drinks, rice, pasta and any other groceries you care to mention - which is my Blip for today.  Many of these items are donated by local supermarkets, the local scrapstore and donations from the Church and are for inclusion in the Boxes of Hope - but in fact, they go into bags - to be taken to various families who are struggling.  This initiative was started in June 2020 with a £200 grant from the national charity, Transforming Lives for Good to help those struggling to cope during the pandemic, but now the Church works with many agencies across the town and takes referrals to help those who are struggling to feed themselves or their families.  There are many reasons people can no longer cope, which could be financial or due to illness, redundancy, relationship breakdowns, and the bags that are delivered are very well received, as you can imagine.

However, the Boxes of Hope is about more than meeting just people’s physical needs.  They may also include age-appropriate activities for children, toiletries for the family as well as other treats that they can no longer afford.  There is also a leaflet giving information about Church services and leaflets giving information about the Christian faith, because the Church wants to spread the Good News about Jesus to others.  

When I was asked how I did this morning, Heather, one of the Team Leaders said I “passed with flying colours”, so I’ll be going back next Monday to help again.  It was a very worthwhile morning and I really enjoyed it - Mr. HCB meanwhile, told me he worked in the garden until it rained, and then he pottered - my word, not his! - in the greenhouse.  He has managed to put one of his “contraptions” up so I hope we get lots of beans this year.

I know this is not a mono shot - but here is a Winnie the Pooh quote as a nod to MM, which seems quite appropriate considering what I have been involved with today:

“How do you spell 'love'?" - Piglet
"You don't spell feel it." - Pooh”
A.A. Milne

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