Diocese of Portsmouth

    Worshippers help school to feed families

    22 April 2020

    WORSHIPPERS from a church in Fareham have helped to deliver vital food supplies to vulnerable families during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Volunteers from Holy Trinity and St Columba Churches in Fareham have been helping to deliver meals on behalf of their local school, St Columba C of E Primary.

    They initially helped to deliver daily packed lunches to pupils who would have qualified for free school meals, if schools were open, along with learning packs to help the pupils keep on top of their school work. Just under 50 children from 33 families were being helped in this way, every Monday to Friday from March 23.

    Then, since April 7, the volunteers have delivered weekly food and learning parcels to these families. The church also offered to pay for the food packs in the first week of the Easter holidays, as well as recording uplifting and positive video messages and saying prayers for children via the school's Facebook page and website.

    Headteacher Tracey Marsh said: "We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support of the local church through this difficult time. We are so incredibly grateful and astounded by their eagerness to support our school community."

    St Columba C of E Primary School, in Tewkesbury Avenue, Fareham, enjoys particularly strong links with the nearby St Columba Church in Hillson Drive. Members regularly visit to lead assemblies, and children also attend services in the church at special times in the Christian calendar.

    The team rector of Holy Trinity and St Columba, Fareham, the Rev Sally Davenport, said: "We are delighted to be able to lend practical support to our school families; It has strengthened our friendships within the community too." 

    Some of the food parcels being prepared in the playground at St Columba C of E Primary
    The yellow tulips growing at Froxfield C of E Primary School

    Meanwhile, other church schools across our diocese are finding innovative ways to engage with their pupils while pupils are at home. One initiative has seen school staff videoing themselves reading bedtime stories to pupils. The headteacher of Yarmouth and Shalfleet C of E Primary Schools, Lizzie Grainger, has already recorded herself doing so, and Cornerstone C of E Primary in Whiteley and St Jude's C of E Primary in Portsmouth have also done something similar.

    At Froxfield C of E Primary School near Petersfield, the school has been sharing photos of yellow tulips planted by children back in November with the help of volunteers from the local gardening club. This was inspired by hearing from diocesan staff about Holocaust Memorial Day, and that bunches of six yellow tulips were used by Jewish communities to honour the six million murdered in the Holocaust, and to recognise the support by the people of Holland. 

    Chair of governors Gilly Hollis said: "Regretfully with ‘lockdown’ the children won’t be able to see the tulips in flower so I’ve photographed them - and when I did, I counted them and there are actually 75 tulips! That was a poignant coincidence indeed, given that this May it is 75 years since VE Day."

    And Steep C of E Primary School has placed weekly video worship from members of the local community, including the church, on its website to help pupils engage with the school's Christian ethos. One example, featuring the local vicar, Canon John Owen, is below:

    Fareham: St Columba

    Hillson Drive, Fareham, PO15 6PF

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