It is at times like this, when so many people fear what lies ahead and the world around us seems to be getting darker, that we should not only focus on the simplicity of meaning found in the words of the carol ‘In the bleak mid-winter’ but also remember that spring will come. In the same way that ‘a stable-place sufficed’, that a stable and hay found in a bleak midwinter’s night is enough for the baby Jesus, so the donated clothes and food parcels, the donations, the words of support, the thoughts and the gestures, the friendship and the warmth that we can show each other and that so many of you have shown St Wilfrid’s throughout the years is enough.
It is enough but it also needs to be recognised as the power of the human spirit that is stronger than a pandemic and brighter than the darkness we can feel. The carol doesn’t make a big thing of Christmas cheer and celebrations but instead focuses on the simplest, truest and, in many ways, priceless gift of all, love. Which is why even when the winter feels bleak, when restrictions and people’s sense of fear and often loss increase, we have to hold on to the real value of the simplest truths. The pain of losing someone or suffering hardship is real but by holding onto the simplest truth, by demonstrating our love and our generosity through helping those in need, through practical demonstration of that love, we are able to focus on those times throughout our lives when we too have felt loved, have felt wanted, have felt part of something and not excluded and know the truth that the simplest things ‘sufficed’.
That is why, even though the challenges of staying open will get greater and the demand may increase, we will do everything we can to try to keep St Wilfrid’s Centre open and providing the valuable services it does to those in need. We know that without your support, we would never have been able to do this and again we remain very grateful for the thoughts, words and donations we receive every day.
These simple truths were made real on the recent Bishop’s Walk when the generosity and support of those we met and those who have donated was made clear.
I also hope that St Wilfrid’s Christmas card provides the same message. When we were deciding what to do, I felt as the new Head of Centre I should offer to have a go at painting something. When I looked through archived photographs, I came across one that I really felt summed up the feeling of security and warmth that the Centre generates, looking out onto a bleak midwinter beyond. I tried to capture that sense and have used the painting in this year’s design, ‘Looking out from the warmth of St Wilfrid’s’. With your continued support and the friendship we can all show to those in need, it is a stable-place (in the other sense of the word stable) that will definitely suffice this year.
St Wilfrid’s Centre Remains Open
Life at St Wilfrid’s has been very different given all the Covid measures we have to employ. Currently 95 clients are attending the centre regularly and most clients attend several times a week. As some clients are shielding we have been able to offer their places to other clients and we are constantly reworking the timetable to offer as many clients as possible the opportunity to come to the centre.
We can currently accommodate 32 clients per day in morning and afternoon activities (4 in the workshop, 4 on the mezzanine and 8 in the hall per session.) We are using our allotment for 2 mornings a week and Patrick and the clients have harvested some lovely tomatoes, blackberries, apples, courgettes and beans. Dom and Keith have started using the minibus to allow the photography group to get further afield, however social distancing means we can only get 5 people in our 17 seater bus! Sue now runs a newsletter group with the clients who are now producing the 3 weekly newsletter which go out to all the clients. In the past month we have also started our Indoor Sports session with Steve Thew, sports facilitator, which is held in the Mother of God Parish Centre with plenty of room for social distancing. We’ve also started a ‘Drop-in’ session to allow those clients not coming in for activities an opportunity to come to see their named worker and have a drink and a chat.
Staff have been very adaptive in finding new ways of engaging with the clients. Lee continues to post daily messages on the Client Facebook page and has 31 client followers; Phil’s Nature Walks are going from strength to strength; Agnes has developed greater links with accommodation and alcohol services to help several of her clients and Souley has been making links to better help destitute refused asylum seekers. All the welfare staff continue to keep in contact with clients by ‘phone or visits and we are continuing to send out newsletters and weekly activity packs.
We are seeing rough sleepers and are giving them immediate help with food and clothing, as well as liaising with other agencies re accommodation and longer term support. We’ve also had an increase in requests for emergency food parcels which, thanks to your generosity with food, we are able to provide. St Wilfrid’s Centre is still working with the council and other charities to provide food and essentials to those accommodated in the hostels and B&Bs, although this is reducing now that Sheffield has started moving rough sleepers out of the hotel accommodation used during Covid measures. The Lord Mayor has sent us his thanks for the work we did in this. We could not have done this without your support with donations of food, clothing, activities and toiletries so thanks go to you too!
We wait with bated breath through this next phase of Covid 19 and hope that we can continue to address whatever challenges are presented to us so we can continue to meet the varying needs of our clients. With your support we can do it…
Louise, Welfare Manager
Bishop’s Walk Completed
Our annual Bishop’s Walk went ahead on Monday, 12 October. Thank you to all who have donated and if you would still like to contribute please go to:
or use Bishop’s Walk online donation form, or telephone 0114 2555720 option 2 and make a donation by debit or credit card. All monies raised will allow us to continue supporting vulnerable and socially isolated adults.