St Simon and St Jude’s church in Earl Shilton felt called to provide something for the families in their area after completing the Partnership for Mission Church process. Over the past few years this has taken the form of community breakfasts, craft days, providing lunches, games days, film days and each year holding Shilton's Got Talent. These summer activities have taken place in their church hall and in other church buildings in the town.
This year the Covid-19 pandemic caused the team to have to think differently about how they could provide support and activities to their local families over the school holidays. Rebecca Castle, one of the team behind the project explains “Obviously, we knew we couldn't run them the same this year, due to Covid-19, but equally we knew that, more than ever, parents would appreciate things for their children to do. Having two young children myself at home, since March, has been incredibly challenging!”
So they took ideas from previous ventures that had gone well and combined the breakfast and lunch offering with crafts and packed them in takeaway bags so that families could prepare the meals and craft activities at home. Rebecca explains “We prepared them on a Monday afternoon and then they were collected on the Tuesday morning. Breakfast was a box of cereal, tea, coffee, 4 pints milk; lunch was bread, cheese, margarine, meat paste, fresh fruit, crisps, bottle of squash, biscuits and some other goodies; dinner was whatever the meal we were cooking. Along with the crafts we also had an 'adult' bag which had a letter in for the week explaining our topic, with a Bible passage, questions for reflection and a prayer, plus some sachets of nice coffee (latte etc) and also a big bar of chocolate!”
The congregation of St Simon’s and St Jude’s were not alone in this venture. Donations of money and time were made by other local organisations and churches. Rebecca tells of the support the project received “Help came in the shape of school teachers (including the head of one school), Hinckley Area Foodbank, the Methodist, Catholic and Baptist Churches, the Independent chapel, the Methodist youth worker and even a couple of people who had heard what was going on and just wanted to help! Churches Together in Earl Shilton is very strong and we work together a lot.”
Over the six weeks the team packed a total 1184 craft bags, provided breakfast for 671, lunch for 903 and ingredients to cook dinner for 1078 people! In total they engaged with 58 families as the word spread and numbers increased each week.
They are even creating harvest supper bags too! Check out their Facebook page for more details: https://www.facebook.com/stsimonandstjude