Picnic and Play 2022

By Alex Sanderson (Project Manager)

We have had the BEST summer at The Chapel this year. It has been so lovely to be back with Picnic and Play, enjoying the activities and meeting friends old and new. Thank you to everyone who helped, donated and supported, and all who joined in and made it such fun! It was a wonderful community effort, with volunteers from local churches and the wider community coming together to make it a lovely summer for all.

The theme for August 2022 was The Seaside and we had our own “beach” with 850kg of sand to play in, and paddling pool to keep cool in the heatwave. Thank you to everyone who helped with that – it was a huge effort to prepare the garden and shift all that sand, we so appreciate your help!

We had wonderful help from the New Way Christian Life Fellowship team to clear the garden, and more volunteers sorting out the safety gates, moving furniture and doing tip runs just to name a few! One volunteer did a sweep of the whole area and pulled up every nettle and bramble to make us toddler safe. What a hero!

The Art and Craft activities were lovely, thanks to our Artists in Residence Debi and Jono, and Revd Gina and her team from the local Methodist Circuit. There was everything from tie dye to paper chain octopus and from potato printing to portraits. ChapelKids have been working on grow your own food projects in the Summer term, and shared some of their gardening skills, with cress planting, bean sprout jars and pea shoots. (Have a look at the beans growing in the garden now – they are ready to pick!). Everyone enjoyed the disco too, especially the games that involved winning sweets – thank you DJ Martin!

Our feedback forms were of course full of…. the pancakes! As ever the most popular bit of the picnic every summer. Thank you Revd Neil and Charlie for these, they were delicious. A huge thank you also goes to Barbara and Kat who made the sandwiches and Julie, Elaine and others who helped stuff all the picnic bags. George and Heather were wonderful too, providing a warm welcome and a hot cuppa (or a cold lemonade on the hottest days!)

The community feel was so lovely, with families arriving early to help set up and staying late to help tidy up and clean. The generosity of donations was super too, with lots of items donated for the play area and a fantastic summer swap shop. It’s one of those times when the phrase “it takes a village” rings true, in fact a lot of us would count one another as family. If you are in the area next summer, some and see what it’s all about!

We must give a special mention to our generous donors, including the Co-Op whose community funding is helping to cover some of the costs to make it happen. We do receive some donations from those participants who are able to give towards the costs, which is important to keep us open, but having this support from the community fund and other generous donors means we never have to turn anyone away who can’t donate. Thank you Co-Op! (Do keep swiping your co-op membership cards in the shop everyone please for the community fund points!)

As we look to the Autumn term, there is lots planned for you to come and enjoy at The Chapel. On Wednesdays, ChapelKids is starting up again for the Autumn term. 11am-14:00 including a new Parenting Pod and Lunch Club as well as the usual Baby and Toddler Group. For more details phone or text us on 07730 609446 (or whatsApp or imessage)

If you would like to donate for the work of The Chapel we welcome donations all year round. Thank you for your support! https://givealittle.co/campaigns/8d80cd98-df9f-494e-9808-b8898744146f

Family Friendly Fun

Baby Plus and Toddler Plus at St. Paul’s church, Tongham

Here at St. Paul’s we run multiple groups for families with children of all ages, from babies right through to young adults. Our aim is not only to provide experiences for the children but also to support their parents in every way we can.

As the community worker for St Paul’s church in Tongham, my key role is to support families with children below school age and particularly new parents with babies. I have over 20 years of experience in this area as I worked for the NCT for 12 years, then the local Children’s Centre for another three before moving to work at St. Paul’s church. I also have three adult children of my own but no grand children yet!

We currently run two groups that are totally FREE for mums/dads/grandparents and their children to attend. We are meeting outside, to allow us to accommodate more families and this is likely to remain the case until the end of the summer. We haven’t had to cancel a session yet due to the weather! We are embracing the outside ‘forest school’ nature of the sessions, with messy play an easier option outside and a chance for the little ones to really explore the outside world as well as the parents gaining fresh air and sense of space.

Toddler plus

This group is for those just walking to about 2/2.5ish and is on a Wednesday, 10.30-12. The toddlers can explore and do some messy play, whilst parents chat and support one another. We also do some actions songs and have bubbles to chase.

Baby Plus

Is for the little ones from just days old to once they are toddling around. This is on a Thursday 10.30-12 Again parents can chat and make new friends, whilst the little ones are also learning with some baby sensory experiences, action songs and bubbles.

We meet throughout the year, including the school holidays. We meet in the vicarage garden which is the house right next door to the community centre carpark, so please park there and walk round. The garden is huge, with plenty of lawn for rugs and woodland area to explore.

It is a bit of a DIY experience at the moment, as you need to bring your own picnic rugs and toys (which you are happy to share). Also unfortunately you also need to bring your own and your children’s drinks and snacks. 

Both groups are incredibly friendly, supportive and welcoming, so we look forward to seeing you soon. I also run a WhatsApp group for each group which allows you to share questions and organise meet ups throughout the week.

Find us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2574450836214712/

Although we do not charge for our sessions, donations can be made on our website. www.stpaulstongam.org.uk

Contact Claire B for further details on: communityworker@stpaulstongham.org.uk

or you can call the Parish Office on 01252 783081

Children & Families at St Mary’s & The Chapel

At St Mary’s and The Chapel we are fortunate to have some lovely young families who come to church, and some wonderful friends, of all faiths and none, who join us for the various groups, online chats and live zooms.

For those at home we have a Messenger Chat and a weekly coffee zoom for parents and carers Mondays 11am Zoom ID: 520 880 119 Password: Grownups

For the Summer term 2021 We have opened up carefully and slowly, with an indoor Babies Support Group at St Mary’s on Vale Road on Tuesdays 10am-11am for little ones under 12 months, and an outdoor Chapel Kids “Garden Praise” session for all ages 0-4yrs at The Chapel on Wharf Rd on Wednesdays 11:30am—12:30. Our favourite this term has been planting lots of scrummy edibles for here and  home!

Monthly Messy Church is back (book early!) with one family / bubble per table in church at St Mary’s, and we are offering doorstep kits for anyone who prefers to stay at home or isn’t able to book due to the restrictions on numbers. Sundays 4pm:

 27th Jun, 18th Jul, 26th Sept, 31st Oct

Picnic & Play—we have exciting plans to open up The Chapel again this summer, every Wednesday in August Keep an eye on Facebook! @AshValeChapel

Come and join the fun!

Phone or text Alex on 07730 609446