Sunday, May 22, 2022

My dream life

I’ve had a week of very poor sleep that included three bad nights and two nightmares. Admittedly I did have one lovely dream where 24 small and delightful children with special needs jumped off the minibus with no adult in charge and had a very happy day with us.

The reason?

Worrying about our Bakewell churches asylum seeker and refugee hospitality day, planned for yesterday, Saturday. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 we had three of these in the summer months each year. We had planned one for April 2020 but then of course Covid arrived.

That meant that the one we held yesterday was the first we'd done for three years, so we were all three years older and rather battered by the Covid years, and when you get into your 60s and 70s (as most of our volunteers are) that makes a difference. It took us some time to get into our stride again in terms of the organising, but finally we got there. 

There are three of us on the planning committee: two of us like to have everything listed and buttoned up at the very least a week ahead of the event, and the third is laid back. She is always smiling, because she knows everything will be all right in the end. (To give you some idea, last night I dreamed she was happily cycling over a motorway on a 3 foot wide bridge with no guard rails while doing tai chi movements with her arms. She is 74.)

Our hospitality days take a lot of planning in terms of transport, premises, volunteers, activities and the lovely lunch that we provide. We aim to make it a warm and welcoming day, a feast and a special occasion, and the craft activities we provide are all things that our guests can make on the day and then take home.

We knew they would be a mixture of nationalities but we didn’t know how many men, women and children would be coming, nor what age any children would be,  which made the planning of the activities nerve-racking. The Bakewell weather also adds an air of uncertainty. If it's fine, there is the park for football, the Meeting House garden for badminton and, for the children, bubbles and a treasure hunt, toy trikes and chalking. And Bakewell has a lovely riverside with picturesque local walks. But what if it rains? What do young men from Afghanistan, for example, like doing on a rainy day out?

But back to the planning. Finally on Thursday night we found out that only two children were coming and they would be 10 year old girls, so I knew I didn’t have to go up in the attic and bring down all the toddler toys. They would probably enjoy doing the crafts, so it was down to hawking out the boxes from under the bed containing the beads and fixings for jewellery, the picture frames and the boxes to decorate, and the fabric shopping bags and fabric paints. I also had to wash a lot of jam jars, both for decorating

and for posies for the lunch tables

I wish I could show you pictures of the day and our happy guests and volunteers. But we don't take photographs in order to protect their privacy. I can show you the delicious jewellery table, though:

They loved the crafts and the lunch and everything else. It was a fine day and I led a sunny walk in the afternoon along the river and through the water meadows. Bakewell was, as always at the weekend, full of tourists and just as we arrived at the love-lock bridge a group of Morris Dancers and clog dancers from Sheffield began a performance. The timing was so perfect, it might have been planned.

There were hugs and smiles as we said goodbye at the end of the day, and as well as the things they had made, they wanted to take the posies. I don't think the flowers will have survived too well on the journey home, but who knows what drab premises they were going home to?

On our walk by the river, two women from Iran picked dandelion clocks and blew them and wished. I thought they must have learned that in England but they said that they did it back home in Iran. How I wish that Priti Patel and all her heartless cronies could see that everyone who seeks refuge here, however they get here,  are just like us, just like people everywhere, special and unique, and worthy of respect and compassion.


Anonymous said...

All the loving care that you put into these days is truly inspirational , Sue Songlad you are able to offer these opportunities after such a long interruption and such a sad one

Anonymous said...

I love seeing the humble jam jar proving it’s worth - for posies or candles, plain or decorated. A thing of function and beauty either way!

But I love even more the generosity on display. Your volunteer group stands for the very best - in warm contrast with the cruelty on display at governmental level. Thank you!

And what an uplifting day you gave your guests, with Morris dancing thrown in.
Of course they wanted to take the posies home, along with the memories.

Thea x

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, Ana and Thea.
And yes - you’ve got to love jam jars, even when the jam is gone.
We all enjoyed the day as much as our guests. Now I know we can still do it, I can’t wait for the next one.

Anonymous said...

Sweet and hopeful day as it matters ! How do you make the pretty jam candle lights . Lovely