in loco parentis

Inspirational, is the word I often use to describe Freda Clark. She is an active campaigner for the voiceless and overlooked in society. Freda has been the driving force behind a great number of effective social action projects in this borough and continues to challenge and inspire me and many other with her ‘faith in action’ shaped life. So it’s with a genuine respect and pleasure that I welcome Freda as my guest blogger this week.

in loco parentis

When I reached my majority, my parents presented me with a formal charter which began: “On the occasion of her 21st birthday, we the undersigned…”   

This rather quaint document had two very important functions.   Firstly, it acknowledged that I was now an adult, and secondly, it assured me of my continuing special place in the essence of my family.  And I decided that it makes a good starting point to explain why I shall be sleeping in a cardboard box on a bitter March evening, to wake up cold and possibly wet at the slightly grander age of 72.  (Am I really doing this on my birthday??!!).

Quite simply, I’m doing it to raise funds for young people who had a far less privileged upbringing than I did, and who face far more material struggles than the majority of my immediately post-war generation.  Because it’s tough out there for young people, and those without parental support are at a real disadvantage. Care leavers have no “Bank of Mum and Dad” to give or lend them money or stuff, and they rarely have adults they feel they belong to, and whose care they can rely on. 

The fund aims to support young people who are wanting to move from benefit dependency into work.  They need clothes and fares for interviews; they need living expenses while they wait for their first pay cheque; they need rental subsidy, because housing benefit stops once they are in work.  Some of the money is loaned (it’s an important life skill to pay your way), and some given.  The principle is that work must not leave the new employee out of pocket.  It makes sense to remove the obstacles that stand in the way for young people wanting to work their way to independence. 

The wonderful team at the YMCA Hillbrook House are dedicated to helping young people realise their full potential, but this aspect of the work relies on donated money.  So I am hoping that you will want to support the SleepEasy cause.

I love it when my children visit; I feel honoured when they ask me for help.  That’s because they will always be “my girls”.  I love it when people are kind and supportive of my girls.  Surely God is equally delighted when we bring blessing into the lives of the precious children He yearns over.   Are not all people precious and fearfully and wonderfully made?  Don’t we all need help and encouragement along the way, but especially when we are starting out in life?

Yours in His love, Freda

Go to Virgin Money Giving, and look for Freda Clark, or cut and paste this link      

Not shipwrecked like St Paul, but Storm Ciara did leave me stranded.

Airport chaos as strike in Italy causes flight cancellations

My guest blogger this week is Miranda who last weekend was trapped in Malta……………

Not shipwrecked like St Paul, but Storm Ciara did leave me stranded.

“Are we going to land now?” said a very excited little boy to his parents.  I go unusually quiet (for me) at take-off and landing. On Thursday morning 7th February the plane landed at a warm and sunny Valetta.  The island has ‘opulent’ churches and I was there as preparations for parades and festivities to celebrate the ship-wrecked Saint were being set up.  You can read the Biblical account of St Paul on his way to Rome to stand trial here:

Little did I realise that a few days later the flight home would be delayed several times over. Announcements were not forthcoming and most information was gleaned from passengers on other flights.  Storm Ciara had sent European airspace into chaos with diversions to many different cities. In the onset of a storm back in the UK and an unknown departure date or time people began to rally to make friends.  Most trips take place with strangers who stay strangers but I believe there was a plan- (there always is even if we don’t see it at the time). The excited little boy entertained us with his unbounding energy and street dance moves.  I later found out that his parents were celebrating their honeymoon. John from Germany (working in London), Ian and Wendy from South Africa discussed should they buy dinner at the airport or wait to see what the airline might provide.

4 ½ Euros and a bottle of water had been given to us at lunchtime but now it was nearly 8.30pm.  As Ian went to see what was left from the Airport food court Wendy shared that she had recently had a pace-maker fitted and had wished she had brought her walking aid. She shared she was struggling more than she wanted to let on to her husband. She didn’t want to worry him. The airport floor was beginning to look like a distinct possibility for the night and so I suggested that she put her feet up on her suitcase for a while.  John shared that he thought the Brits were very good at being positive and making the best of bad situations. He also did the most brilliant impersonation of Boris Johnson who he had met at some traffic lights in London! Finbar and June were in their 80’s. Finbar was determined to go everyone on his 2 sticks but when a few us asked for additional assistance he didn’t refuse.

By now tiredness was showing and folk on timed medications were beginning to become anxious.  All kinds of bureaucracy meant that ‘luggages’ could not be returned until a formal decision between airports had been decided. All I could do was pray and ask others to pray! Thank you God for wifi and Whatsapp and a group of prayer warriors from RBC!

When the airport and airline realised there could be consequences to medication not taken by those with epilepsy, heart problems and Parkinson’s they arranged with the airline to ‘reschedule’ the flight for the next day and the airline arranged to take us to a 5* hotel overnight.   In fact we arrived before the email from the airline and were met by a very bemused concierge who watched in shock as we hauled ourselves and bags through revolving doors into a marble atrium and gathered at the reception desk to a rather stunned looking Manager. A dance troupe from Chichester made themselves at home on red velvet chaise longues and gold chairs while their tired but ‘oh so proud’ tutor lined up with their 25 passports hoping that there would be room for them all.

So why tell you this? A storm may divert you off your chosen course but remember who is ultimately in control.  Not sure if you are an optimist but I would urge you to consider that even storms can be an opportunity to do good. We are told in Hebrews 13.2 to offer hospitality and entertain strangers and that we may never know when we may have done so with angels. When the plane got to Gatwick late on Sunday evening there was not a peep from little Harry as he was sound asleep but there were genuine hugs of appreciation as we said our goodbyes. I was even able to pray a blessing over the young couple as they went on their way. Storm Dennis is on his way over the next few hours – how will you do good in his wake?

N.B. Names have been changed

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