Greetings from Devonport
We are just coming towards the end of the school year and life is getting very busy. There has been a lot going on, so here is an update on some of the things that have been happening.
The mammoth bike ride!
Back in the wettest week of the year so far, two amazing people – Ian and Eldon from the Church of the Good Shepherd in Pyrford, Surrey – took part in a sponsored bike ride over four days. They travelled from Surrey to Devonport, an arduous journey of over 200 miles, sometimes in extremely wet conditions, and arrived at St Aubyn’s Church on June 14. They arrived smiling (if somewhat tired) and still full of enthusiasm for what they had achieved.
As you can see from the photo below, they were welcomed by both people from the church and the staff of the work club which will benefit from some of the funds raised. The amount of money raised was in excess of £6,500 and will be used for supporting four different projects – three being summer projects and the remainder going towards supporting the work club.
The work club is a project that supports the unemployed in Devonport and the surrounding area. It is held in the Devonport library every Wednesday throughout the year and 20-25 people attend on average. Many are regulars and we are able to develop good relationships with them as they navigate the complex world of benefits and unemployment. We utilise the expertise of a local organisation called Routeways, which supports children, young people, families and individuals in overcoming disadvantage. The benefits system is very complicated and can often need specialist help. We also provide refreshments at the work club which contributes to the social element of Wednesday mornings and some of you may remember our sixth birthday party that we held in February this year.
The money that has been raised through the sponsored bike ride means that we can operate for at least another year in addition to the funding we already have and is a great example of a CMS supporting church really making a difference in an area of disadvantage. Please pray for the work club as each week there are newcomers who are looking for work.
This summer we are also running a project targeted at children and families who benefit from free school meals. Many struggle to provide food for their families during the summer holidays and so we are holding craft/games mornings followed by a cooked meal every Monday until schools go back. This will be part of a larger project called “Feast of Fun”, which is being held all over the Plymouth area by churches and local organisations. The Devonport Feast of Fun is being coordinated by Churches Together in Devonport and is being held at the local Salvation Army Hall and the money raised from the sponsored bike ride will also cover the cost of this.
The other two projects that will benefit from the bike ride proceeds are craft days run by St Aubyn’s Church in the Library and the planting of an orchard/relaxation area on a small piece of land which is currently derelict. These smaller projects are important for Devonport and such projects give Churches Together the opportunity to work alongside each other.
Please pray for all these summer projects as we need volunteers to help from the local churches and for the families to engage with all that is on offer. Pray also that families will sign up.
In May, Stoke Damerel Church welcomed a new priest, Rev Keith Robus. Previously a naval chaplain, Keith has quickly made himself part of the church family and is looking forward to working in Stoke. His role includes being the chaplain at City College and I will be part of his team after spending two years gaining experience in that role. The College has given him a good welcome and we are currently looking at what we can offer the College during Freshers’ week. Thank God for Rev Keith and for his role at City College. Pray for the beginning of next term as we relaunch the chaplaincy and its team.
This summer term has brought new challenges for Riverside School. This included the sudden death of a student and the school offering redundancies to staff due to the drop in pupil numbers. As funding is based on student numbers, this was a difficult process but has been handled well by a strong head teacher. The reduction in numbers is mainly due to houses on the estate being knocked down and rebuilt so families have been rehoused in other areas of Plymouth. This will be the situation for at least the next two years but we hope that this will then change and families are able to move back.
I am pleased to say that the SATS results were very satisfactory and good progress has been made. It is a school that is situated in a difficult area but has improved over the past few years due to the hard work of both the staff and the head.
Thank you again for your support and please keep praying for the work in Devonport.