Holy Family Southampton are working with Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth to support community cohesion within the parish. There are a number of diverse communities but there is no joint working or pooling of resources. It was felt if the communities had a joint project to work on this may encourage integration.
After some consideration it was decided to run a holiday club in the last week of the summer holidays 2016 for children living in the parish.
This parish of Holy Family is situated in an area of mass deprivation, rated 11,919 in the country out of 12,660 (where 1 is the least deprived). Caritas, the recently arrived parish priest and the Polish chaplain, who operates out of the church, have developed the idea of a holiday club which will not only offer 40 children living in the parish a fantastic end to their school holiday but will begin to address the needs of the local area. The charity ‘Intouniversity’, who are currently renting the main church hall at Holy Family have encouraged us by sharing their experience and ideas.
The primary concern of the parish priest is for the children living in the area around the church, most of whom are in social housing and some of whom are under the care of social services or are ‘looked after’ (in foster care). Holy Family has contact with these children through both the local Catholic school and the Poitiers Food Care (a food delivery service for families referred by social services and run from the church). In addition, both the parish priest and Polish chaplain are aware of several families, the children of which are in need of extra support.
With the assistance of Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth, the parish will run a four day holiday club for forty of these children at the end of the summer holidays. The target age range is years 3-6 (8-11 years old). The holiday club itself will be based on a loosely biblical theme (possibly mountains) and will include a proper midday meal and some ‘treat activities’ (for example, we are looking into the possibility of taking the children to a climbing wall). The aspiration is to make the club as good as possible for the children. We hope, in the main, to select those who will have not been able to access any other holiday scheme or who will not have been away for a holiday. We plan to use volunteers to staff the holiday club, including 14-18 year olds, for whom we plan to offer a session of theological reflection about mission and poverty.
In addition, we plan to use the opportunity of the drop off and pick up times both to offer hospitality to the parents and also to carry out an informal consultation on what else we could do to help the families following on from the holiday club, with a particular focus on the long term outcomes for the children.