Mim, Make Lunch Coordinator for St Mary’s, Bredin – where Joel, Toria and their family attend – explains what happens at her TLG Make Lunch Club and the lifeline it provides to families in the local area.
Since we opened TLG Make Lunch in the 2017 February half-term holidays, we have welcomed many families through the doors. They each come with their own story and reason for being there.
Our heart for starting TLG Make Lunch was to help to meet a practical and social need in the area and provide a place of safety, fun and community, where families can come and enjoy doing something together in the school holidays.
Our main contacts are made through the local primary school, with the help of the Pastoral Manager and other staff who identify families to send letters to invite them to our TLG Make Lunch club. The relationship with the school has been really important. Families trust us because they trust the school staff who have told them about TLG Make Lunch.
Many of the families are on benefits and have had difficulty knowing what they can claim and how to complete the required forms. We have been able to direct families to a local support hub where agencies including a foodbank, Christians Against Poverty and Citizens Advice are available to help them.
We run one day a week every holiday and have a range of activities available, as well as a hot and healthy meal which families sit down to eat together.
Table tennis and table football are regular features, with various crafts taking place that have included marbling, pottery painting and making stained glass designs. We’ve had visits from a bird of prey display team and a range of creepy crawlies – which some enjoyed more than others!
We encourage the children to help in laying and clearing the tables for lunch, as well as sometimes helping to prepare the food. We try to have a range of food on the menu throughout the year and have brilliant cooks in the kitchen to prepare the delicious meals.
Christmas dinner is a favourite and everyone gets into the Christmas spirit, with crackers being pulled and terrible jokes being shared.
Over the time we have been open, a great sense of community has grown between the families and team. What began as a few shy parents standing outside the church doors unsure whether to go in has turned into children running into the building and feeling like it is their space to own.
The adults have people to talk to and the children are kept busy with toys, games, books and creative projects…not forgetting the dressing up outfits which disappear off the rail immediately. The parents appreciate having somewhere they can all go together as a family which doesn’t cost anything.
The social interaction has really helped lots of the families to be less isolated and gives the children a space to see their friends in the holidays. We have really noticed parents become much more relaxed and open up as we get to know them and able to share their situations with us. It is a space where they know we will listen and they aren’t alone anymore.
TLG Make Lunch is more than giving food to hungry children, it’s about building community with whole families and sharing the love of Jesus in what we do and say.
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Mim Taylor is the children’s worker at St Mary Bredin Church, Canterbury, and has been the TLG Make Lunch Coordinator there for two and a half years. She has loved seeing families grow in confidence and build a strong community together. Mim is currently on a mission to explore the county more and aims to walk the length of the Kent coastline.