Wymondham church's work honoured in awards
Hope Community Church in Wymondham is celebrating two awards in the recent South Norfolk Community Awards 2020 - the Lifetime Community Hero for Elisabeth Louis and runner-up in the Community Group of the Year. Andy Latham reports.
Elisabeth was described as ‘a pillar of the community’ having offered a sustained contribution over the years and a dependability that others have come to rely on in times of genuine hardship. She has been contributing greatly to the local community by running FISH (Fun in School Holidays) club in the school holidays and various other clubs and activities, and more recently she has been running Food Club where families in the local community have been blessed with food packages, I caught up with Elisabeth recently:
Network Norfolk. How long has FISH been running?
Elisabeth Louis. FISH (at Hub Community Project) first met in the February half term in 2017
NN. What was your inspiration to start FISH?
EL. Several things inspired me – a friend who had started something similar in another part of Norfolk, a visit to a FISH project in Norwich, and the encouragement of Debbie Rose – manager of Hub Community Project.
NN. Who benefits from FISH, how often does it run and what happens normally and how has it changed in 2020?
EL. FISH serves families in the community who, for various reasons, face challenges of different kinds. It offers them a place to come where they can enjoy a hot cooked lunch and activities that they might not normally be able to access. They are able to sit and chat with the team, enjoy the activities and experience friendship – whilst enjoying food and fun together.
During this year, things have obviously been very different. During the lockdown in the spring, we were able to deliver packed lunches, craft packs and food boxes to the families who usually come to FISH. This happened once a week. It was lovely to see everybody and we enjoyed socially distanced chats on the doorstep!
When things opened up, we invited families to come to the Hub to collect their lunches, food boxes and craft packs, and because we were enjoying a beautiful summer, we were able to enjoy coffee, cakes and ice-cream together. They were special times of friendship building. We held a socially distanced cinema afternoon, and in October we managed to have a fish and chip lunch together, but we had to limit numbers so we could do it safely
NN. Who has made a special contribution to Food Club?
EL. The Community Champion at Morrisons in Wymondham has given us an amazing amount of support – we are hugely indebted to Morrisons – they have supported us throughout and without this we would not have been able to run the project.
Norfolk Community Foundation have also given us support and resources through funding.
Traditional Norfolk Poultry donated fresh meat on one occasion and we were also given lots of Eggs by The Hen House in Wymondham
The FISH Team have been amazing and have volunteered to help run the Food Club, along with new volunteers too – they are an outstanding team
NN. Finally, how did you feel when you were told you had won this award?
EL. I was totally overwhelmed by being given the award – it was the last thing that I expected. I have said many times, that although the award has my name on it, I consider it to belong to the wonderful team that I have had the privilege of leading. I am very proud of them all! They all worked really hard and I could not have done any of it without them.
Pictured above is Wymondham community hero Elisabeth Louise.
Hub Community Project (HCP) was also recognised by South Norfolk Council, as runners-up in the Community Group of the Year award . HCP was set up by a group of like-minded individuals from Hope Community Church who had a passion for the marginalised in their community, those who were really struggling to lead a full and happy life for whatever reason.
Many of those who volunteer within Hub’s projects are members of Hope Community Church. However, HCP is there to assist anyone in the community regardless of their faith choice, it operates under Christian principles to love and help those in need in our community irrespective of whether they have a Christian or different faith or none at all. I caught up with Debbie Rose (pictured right), manager of Hub Community Project
NN. How long has Hub Community Project been running?
Debbie Rose. Hub started with Hoppers in Sept 2010
NN. Has it always been at the premises in Ayton Road?
DR. Prior to Ayton Road, it was based at Fairland St (now Domino’s Pizza). However, before moving to Fairland Street Hoppers was based at a mobile at Ashleigh School
NN. Who benefits from HCP, what happens normally and how has it changed in 2020?
Projects have evolved in response to needs in the community. We help people of all ages and from all backgrounds, there are no barriers to who can access our help. Current projects are as shown on our website (www.hubproject.org.uk
In March 2020 and in line with Government advice all the projects had to cease their physical meetings. Where is has been appropriate to do so some have continued to meet online with Zoom meetings. In a response to the increase in food poverty, which we were already addressing, FISH expanded its activities to provide weekly support to those families usually in receipt of free school meals. Whilst we have stopped providing weekly packed lunches and food parcels we now offer a weekly Food Club where families can come and choose food items in return for a small donation.
NN. Who has provided special support to HCP?
DR. The success of the project is down to the commitment and hard work of the project leaders and our team of some 60 dedicated volunteers. We are also grateful for all those who have provided financial help including individuals who provide regular support and charitable trusts who have responded to our appeals. Special mention should also to Norfolk Community Foundation which has been with us from the beginning and supported many of our activities.
NN. Finally, how did you feel when you were told about the award?
DR. We were delighted to receive this award in recognition for all the work we have been able to do in our community particularly over the last eight months. We would like to honour all the project leaders and volunteers without whom none of this work would have been possible.
Pictured above is Hub Community Project manager Debbie Rose.