The forum met at the URC. Ms Jane Bailey of Richmond council’s health department described the borough’s problem of loneliness (sometimes amidst material affluence). Some 1,000 people were at serious risk of loneliness-related problems. There were many organisations keen to help yet there were obstacles to lonely people using those services.
Member-churches were reminded to pay their £50 annual membership-fees. Hot cross buns had been predominantly well-received at local stations during holy week. All 200 had been distributed at Fulwell; at Hampton, 500 were given out with the 100 surplus being donated to Linden Hall community centre.
All Saints had restored and reordered its interior, and had a large Easter congregation. St Mary’s was also flourishing, with prayer-groups and work with young people. The URC was progressing with getting grants for its planned redevelopment. The Methodists were also strong in youth-work, with 10 boys attending the drama group, as well as Messy Church and a Discovery Club. St Francis de Sales was busy liturgically and socially, with a pantomime, active charity group, youth club, Lent groups and a forthcoming fashion-show. St James’s had also had Lent groups, as well as an Easter breakfast and significant TraidCraft income. St Theodore’s parishioners had contributed to a consultation on the Vatican synod on marriage and the family. Congregations with Messy Churches were planning a flyer about them.
General election hustings would be held at 19:30 on Tuesday 21 April at Teddington Baptist Church. The forum was keen to send a new representative (replacing Rev Macpherson) to the borough’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, ideally someone with school-experience.
Tina English described Embracing Age, the local Christian charity which visits care-home residents and helps churches provide activities for the elderly. Paul Danon plugged the forum’s Facebook group.
The meeting split into groups which reported how neighbourhood life had become fragmented and isolated. People spent more time online and there were risks there of isolation and of scams. Computer-clubs could foster inter-generational contact. Churches could be revolutionised if each member brought in just one neighbour. The Silver Line service was a way of providing the lonely with companionship by phone. Paul Danon would ask Jane Bailey for case-histories of how churches had promoted outreach to the lonely.
It was hoped that the next forum would be on Tuesday 22 September at All Saints' with a talk by Dr Trevor Adams on making churches welcoming to people with dementia. Ann Peterken would provide Paul with the AGM minutes for distribution.