Claire Knight - Church & Community Outreach Team Leader
I grew up as an only child just down the road in Bagshot. Every Sunday I attended Sunday school at St. Ann's Church until I joined the Church Choir at the age of 9. I went on to be part of the Youth Fellowship group held every Sunday night and that is where my Faith really grew. I made many friends on my early journey with God and I am still in touch with many of them now even though we are scattered all over the world.
Having spent 18 years working for Barclays Bank including the post of Branch Manager at Wokingham branch, in 2007 I decided that my real passion was to work alongside young people. I joined the then East Berkshire Education and Business Partnership where I developed, managed and delivered enterprise projects to Secondary and Primary schools across East Berkshire including some larger scale corporate inter school events.
In 2011 I came to work at Wokingham Methodist Church having played a significant voluntary role at St. Michael's Easthampstead in Bracknell. Since then I have worked to develop and grow our Church family through various activities and groups.
I am married to Russell who I met at work in 1994 and have two beautiful teenage daughters, Eleanor and Lauren and a young dog named Bailey! We are very happy living in Jennett's Park.
I am delighted to be undertaking the role of Church and Community Outreach Team Leader where I plan to enhance our work with all generations within our community drawing them closer to God through fellowship and ministry through the Coffee House, Bradbury Centre and beyond.
This is an exciting time for our town and indeed our Church as we are at the centre of the town's redevelopment and an increasing population as Wokingham grows, it is my wish to ensure we always offer a warm and friendly welcome to all we come into contact with and to embrace the changes that God is providing.
Jesus Crew runs on two to three Sundays per month. We continue to use material from Scripture Union's 'Light Live' we are now welcoming between 4 and 10 children. We have a team of five volunteers who work hard to ensure the children are engaged in learning about the bible through games, crafts and stories.
Chaos Club runs weekly on Tuesdays during term-time from 4.30-6pm. We welcome girls and boys aged between 5 and 11 years old and it is nice to see children coming who have previously attended toddler group, Church @ 4 and Holiday Club. They are also bringing their friends. Some of the activities that we have undertaken include Mask Making, Pancakes on Pancake day, All Saints Day and making resources to use in Church during Lent and Advent.
This year 52 children attended our Holiday Club 'Guardians of Ancora'. We spent our afternoons discovering bible stories, making things, cooking and playing games. The children all had a wonderful time and it was lovely to see so many of them in Church sharing their week with the congregation afterwards.
Church @ 4
Church @ 4, our 'Messy Church' is held instead of our evening worship on the second Sunday of the month. We are seeing a steady number of families attending and enjoying crafts, worship and a picnic tea. We have found that the summer months tend to be quieter and this is particularly the case when other activities are going on around the town. We sometimes use our own ideas and sometimes use suggestions given by the Messy Church magazine.
Open the Book
Open the Book was being organised and run by Savannah, the Youth Worker at Wokingham Baptist Church. Savannah left in the summer and now I am overseeing 'Open the Book' in the schools across Wokingham. We hold assemblies in four local schools and are praying to be able to recruit more schools and volunteers this year.
We use resources from the Bible Society using the Lion Storyteller Bible written by Bob Hartman. I was privileged to attend a course hosted by Bob last year and was inspired by his passion and enthusiasm for sharing faith with children.
In September I was lucky enough to have been invited to attend a Symposium in Connecticut with Gail Adcock and Ed Mackenzie from the Connexional Team. Aside from my suitcase being stranded in Dublin, I had a really fulfilling and rewarding few days sharing in their learning about making church truly intergenerational, engaging people of all ages in everything we do. Marking landmark events in people's lives and offering support and love to the wider community putting ourselves with them to walk alongside them in times of joy and sorrow. This is something that truly speaks to me in my new role as CCOTL. I will be working with Gail and Ed on ways to take this work forward and share it throughout the Methodist Church.
Following the retirement of Andy Knight in August, I have undertaken a slightly different role within the Bradbury Centre and Church.
Some of things I have now been part of are as follows:
Building on the success of the Alzheimer's Café, we continue to run fortnightly on a Wednesday from 2-4pm. We have seen attendance steadily rise and we are now having between 20 and 30 people living with dementia and some carers. This year we have had various talks and activities from flower arranging to quizzes and games to Afternoon tea. In December, Rose Buddies agreed to cook the group Christmas Dinner and they did a fantastic job! We even had a guest appearance from Father Christmas bearing gifts. I have recently attended a course to become a Dementia Champion which means that I can offer one hour information sessions to enable anyone to become a Dementia Friend. This will ensure that we are welcoming and understanding to all people who use our premises who are suffering from memory loss.
Alzheimer's Carers Group
The Alzheimer's Café enables a certain opportunity for Carers to come and share their challenges and concerns but it often proves awkward to hold these conversations whilst their loved ones are present. This meant that we felt there was a significant need for a group solely aimed at carers but with the ability for them to know that their loved ones are nearby and cared for. In September we tentatively started a carers group every Tuesday fortnightly and since January this has really taken off and we are seeing nine carers and their loved ones every session. We have also been lucky enough to have been granted £300 from Galaxy Hot Chocolate.
Following the fantastic hard work and commitment of Gerry and her team, we were fortunate enough to be able to employ Tina as our new Coffee House Manager. Tina started her employment in November and together we are working to ensure that we embrace the ever changing environment around us and remain a bust welcoming coffee ship and Community Centre. We have already purchased sofas and new, easier – to – clean high chairs making a popular comfortable corner of the Meeting Place. We have replaced some of the pictures with posters welcoming customers to join us, and introduced colouring for the children. We have continued to maintain the busyness of the coffee house and are working together to think of ideas to take the coffee house forward, we are considering offering things like breakfasts and lunches and today as I write this we have had our new fresh bean coffee machine installed!
Mince Pie Giveaway
In December a team of volunteers met and helped wrap 600 mince pies kindly sponsored by Clifton Ingram so that the following morning several of us could greet early morning commuters with a Mince Pie! The giveaway was a great success and builds on Andy's great work in setting this outreach work up.
I am passionate about the need to ensure that we remain welcoming and maintain a happy environment to everyone who uses our premises and maximise the opportunities presented to us through the other groups hiring our rooms.
God has brought us to this place and has a plan for us and our future and through hard work and prayer, we will make the Bradbury Centre the heart of the Community and a place where people will come for companionship. We all need to work together to make this happen; at times there will be significant challenges but whatever we face, God is with us!
Thank you to everyone who has volunteered and supported me in all aspects of my work through holiday club, mince pie wrapping and importantly kind and supportive word. Your help together with my faith has kept me strong!