Monday, 31 October 2011

St Paul’s Action Day For Camberley Besom

Helpers from St Paul's help Besom with Harvest Gifts

Members of St Paul’s Volunteer for Besom

A group of volunteers from St Paul’s spent a day helping out the Besom charity processing the harvest gifts kindly donated by local schools and churches in Camberley.

The Besom are a local charity who specialise in providing food packs and other items to those in need, in Camberley and the surrounding area. On 22nd October the group of eight helped sort out the harvest gifts, separating out tins into categories, and sifting out those passed their sell-by dates, ready to make food parcels for those in need in the local area. The quantity of gifts ensured this was a worthy challenge for the team.

One of the volunteers, Ted Crew says: “On this occasion 'the fields were all white and the reapers were many' and the work of Besom can proceed reaching out to those in need. We also enjoyed the work”.

For more information on Camberley Besom see the previous post The Besom In Camberley – Food by Faith.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Walking Around Chawton and the South Downs

Fine Weather Walkers

Word and Pictures: Ted Crew

On Saturday 15 October, a group of Fine Weather Walkers set off from St Paul’s at 08:30am under the leadership of Graham ‘I shall say this only several times ’ Le Clercq for a six mile walk he had previously reconnoitred from Chawton near Alton. The village was home of the famous English novelist Jane Austen for the last eight years of her life, and lies within the South Downs National Park.

Parking near Jane Austin’s House we booted and spurred before departing. With a thermometer reading of three degrees and, resisting the temptation to break into a song, we crossed a nearby field seeing our first frost of the autumn. A beautiful blue sky and rapidly rising temperature. Soon it became clear that the group needed to be renamed the Smug Fabulous Weather Walkers.

Jane Austen's HouseJane Austen’s House

If the walk were to have a name it should be ‘the beginners’ country walk with an introduction to animals. On this gently undulating walk, we encountered sheep, alpacas, two bulls, pigs, cows, chickens, thoroughbred horses and a rather large working horse who wanted to join the walk. It was during this introduction to animals that Sigrun threw doubt on her rural heritage by claiming that a sheep was a pig. Graham demonstrated that he was well acquainted with the country with a rather fine impersonation of a chicken – actions an’ all! Unfortunately, the working horse either took a dislike to Ted or was trying to show unwanted affection by biting into Ted’s fleece.

Our mid-morning break was enjoyed in a field near the beautiful village of Upper Farringdon. In baking sunshine we unzipped our bananas (for energy) oat bars (for sustenance but low carbohydrate) and coffee (because that’s what you do in the middle of the morning). After a 15 minute break we were off again through the village and on our way back to Chawton.

The walk was taken at a leisurely pace, we were surrounded by God’s wonderful country gifts. We returned to our cars refreshed by the experience rather than tired. You should join us one day and bring a friend. The walks are always very well organised.

The St Paul’s walking group is open for all to join in the local area. You don’t have to be a member of St Paul’s. For more information on the walking group, and other walks done, take a look at some of their blog posts here.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween - Harmless or Horrid?

notrick Surrey Police 'no trick or treat' window card

Halloween is a harmless bit of fun for children to go out and gather sweets from the local neighbourhood. Or is it?

Traditionally Halloween, or All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), the night before All Hallows Day, is a  time when children dress up in garish costumes in order to ward off evil spirits. Is that harmless? Not to the elderly and single women. It can be very intimidating opening to door to a bunch of masked strangers demanding treats.

Camberley People reported in their article Promoting Safety Awareness Ahead of Halloween and Bonfire Night that Surrey Heath Neighbourhood Inspector James Norbury says: "While Halloween and Bonfire night can be an enjoyable time for many, there are lots of considerations for people to think about. We are asking the community to stay safe while having fun as well as respect other people, including those who are vulnerable or don't want to be disturbed."

But what about the children?

Halloween portrays evil personalities in a positive or innocuous way. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, or mythical monsters. Is evil something we really want to encourage our children to celebrate? Our own GLOW party aims to change all that. This free party for 4-11 year olds, is a positive alternative to Halloween. Light without the fright. So Halloween needn't be scary. It could be fun and truly harmless, without intimidation. A celebration of good.

Don't be hollow this Halloween, why not make a stand?

Change a tradition?

Start a trend this October 31, and celebrate light, not darkness.

If your children really insist in trick or treating, why not encourage them to actually offer treats this year, and do a spot of giving!

Friday, 21 October 2011

GLOW-ing Alternative Halloween Party - Light without the Fright!

2008_1031Glow0065 Halloween is a time commonly associated with celebrating evil, but St Paul’s will be having a lot more fun celebrating good, as we throw a free party for younger children in Camberley.

The GLOW party is an annual themed event with 2 hours of lively entertainment  for children aged 4-11, including messy games and cool crafts. This year the theme is  'God is Bigger'. The event takes place on Saturday 29th October between 4-6pm at St Paul’s Centre, Crawley Ridge, Camberley GU15 2AD.

Jill Davis, Children’s Coordinator at St Paul’s says: “We hold GLOW because it is important to us to offer an alternative fun event that our local children can attend during the Halloween period.  We do games, make things, and have lots of fun in a safe, positive way.  Come dressed as your favourite superhero.”

No tickets are required, just turn up and register on the evening. Parents are welcome to stay, or leave their children with the team, and take time out to relax.

For more information on GLOW, contact Sarah Hounslow on 07789 995274 or email

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Mayor and Mayoress of Surrey Heath on the UN Day to Eradicate Poverty 2011


Brookwood Cemetery Glade

The Glades, Brookwood Cemetery

The Mayor and Mayoress of Surrey Heath joined the Surrey Heath Coalition Against Poverty at Brookwood Cemetery on Saturday 15 October, in the run up to the United Nations international day to end poverty (which occurs annually on 17 October).

We were there to pay our respects to the Paupers of London in the 1850’s. This is about the only time of the year when the pauper’s graves get visited and remembered, so a special time. In the mid-nineteenth century the volume of London's dead was causing public concern. So in 1850 the idea of a great metropolitan cemetery, situated in the suburbs and large enough to contain all of London's dead, was promoted. The outcome was Brookwood Cemetery, the largest burial ground in the world when it was opened in 1854 by the London Necropolis & Mausoleum Company.

I interviewed Mayor Tim Dodds, on his thoughts about the UN Day to End Poverty, and poverty locally in the borough.


On the United Nations Day to Eradicate Poverty…

The Mayor says: “The United Nations Day to End Poverty is a laudable thing and just focuses peoples minds on those that have little or nothing”.

On poverty in Surrey Heath ….

Surrey Heath has pockets of poverty. The Old Dean, St Michael’s and Watchetts have the highest numbers of 0-19 year olds in poverty in the county.

On local poverty the Mayor says: “Poverty exists everywhere. Those with money will be in poverty quite quickly if they loose their job they are unable to afford the lifestyle that they currently have. Recently I was at Avenue Sucy at a church led event, celebrating the people who live there, and trying to say to them that they are not forgotten. People understand some of the difficulties that some of them live with. Their issues are recognised by a number of organisations in the borough.

Surrey Heath does have pockets of poverty which we need to recognise, and I think as a borough, we do pretty well. It’s a very volunteering conscious borough, and lots of organisations do fantastic work, more so than people recognise. Whilst poverty exists in part of the borough, there is recognition that it exists, and there is a willingness to do something about it”.

On the role of voluntary organisations in eradicating poverty…

Mayor Tim Dodds says: “I don’t have any vision for any greater role for the charities and organisations in the borough than we currently have. There are a huge number of them, supported by dedicated volunteers. I’m sure most voluntary organisations can’t do any more. I spoke to somebody last night who’s a governor of a school, a trustee of the Frimley Fuel Allotments and a number of other things. These people who want to volunteer and contribute make a difference in a big way, because they use most of their time to do voluntary work. We just need more volunteers, I think that’s the solution”.

Mayor Tim Dodds ponders over a Pauper's Grave

Mayor Tim Dodds pays his respects at the Pauper's Graves, Brookwood Cemetery

Friday, 14 October 2011

This Weekend – What is the Poverty Line?

Saturday Unite Together for World Poverty, Local Poverty, All Poverty

October 17 is the UN Day to End Poverty worldwide. This weekend in Surrey Heath, the Surrey Heath Coalition Against Poverty (SHCAP) are commemorating on Saturday 15 October with two events that people can take part in. A serious look at what happened to the deceased of London in 1850, followed by a fun workshop for all the family.

The day, which is commemorated globally, seeks to promote increased awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and serves to remind all people that sustained and concerted effort is vital to achieve the millennium development goal (MDG) of halving the number of people living in poverty by 2015.

Poverty doesn’t just exist in the third world, it also exists locally. Whilst poverty is low in Surrey Heath compared to the regional benchmark, The Surrey Heath Families in Poverty Needs Assessment says: “Surrey’s appearance as a wealthy county can be deceptive”. It goes on to state that there are 1,605 children and young people living in poverty in the borough. The Old Dean, St Michael’s and Watchetts have the highest numbers of 0-19 year olds in poverty.

This week, the national news reported that “UK seeing a big rise in poverty, says IFS”.  What does this mean for us as individuals?

Well poverty is defined as an income which falls below 60% of the median income. The IFS report advises the real median household incomes have fallen significantly between 2009 and 2011. So in real figures, here is the scoop….

What is the Poverty Line IN THE UK?

  • Single adult, no children: £165 per week
  • Couple, no children: £248 per week
  • Lone parent, 1 child: £215 per week
  • Lone parent, 2 children: £264 per week
  • Lone parent, 3 children: £314 per week
  • Couple, 1 child: £297 per week
  • Couple, 2 children: £347 per week
  • Couple, 3 children: £396 per week

As SHCAP start their tour of the 1850  London Paupers Graves in Brookwood, we shall also be thinking about the  'Pauper funerals' in Wales right now in 2011, due to the rise in  burial costs.

Saturday is also about fun and creativity. ATD Fourth World, based at Frimhurst Family Centre, are putting on a creative workshop for the whole family. Refreshments are provided, and a big balloon release will end a day in Surrey Heath, that we spent thinking about those less fortunate than ourselves.

On Twitter, we shall be using the hashtag #SHCAP throughout to day to bring live updates on events, and more information about poverty and what is being done to help locally. More information on the Surrey Heath Coalition Against Poverty (SHCAP) at

Friday, 7 October 2011

Full English – Rev Mark Chester on Afghanistan

Breakfast with Rev Mark Chester at Pine Ridge
“Breakfast with Rev Mark Chester at Pine Ridge”

"Right men, Afghanistan, Pine Ridge, 29th Oct. Got it?"

Rev Mark Chester has recently returned from an operational tour in Afghanistan with the Commando Gunners and Royal Armoured Corps Units.  He will be speaking about life as a unit Padre in Helmand over breakfast at Pine Ridge.

The recent Channel 4 documentary Fighting on the Frontline which Mark took part in, will give you some idea of what he encountered, as well as the blog posts as we followed him during his tour. Hear more about this over a full English breakfast on Saturday 29th October at 8.15am at the Pine Ridge Golf Club, Old Bisley Road, Frimley, Camberley, Surrey GU16 9NX.
Padre Mark prepares to patrol with British and Afghan soldiersIn this age in which we live where war touches so many lives of soldiers and families right here in Surrey and Hampshire, its a very relevant topic. Mark says: “I spent three months as Padre to combat soldiers in Afghanistan earlier this year. Every experience in life is an opportunity to learn and I want to talk about what I have learnt through my experience on operations in the hope that it may be of interest or value to others”.

Tickets for this men's breakfast are £10 (to cover the breakfast), and are available from Azan Laslett on 01276 469227 or via . The event is limited to 230 tickets.

Since Mark has returned home, he has appeared on Eagle Radio, Radio Frimley Park, and a Channel 4 documentary Fighting on the Frontline. You can hear Mark this Sunday 9 October on BBC Radio Surrey & Sussex at 7.30am.

To find out more about St Paul’s, please visit or contact the office on 01276 700210.