Many thanks to the generous staff at the Central Library who donated £73 to us in lieu of Christmas cards.
The Barnsley Starter Packs scheme recently celebrated its 5th birthday by handing out its 500th pack of household goods to help homeless people and families establish a settled home. This milestone also coincided with their oldest volunteer, Kathleen, celebrating her 90th birthday!
The scheme is affiliated to Church Action on Poverty and is run entirely by volunteers. Kathleen and the rest of the team work tirelessly to collect recycled items, raise funds, and prepare packs of essential goods.
‘Barnsley Starter Packs – a hand up – not a hand out’
One of our volunteers, Hilary Simmons, attended this year’s Maundy Thursday service which was held at Sheffield Cathedral on the 2nd April. She was one of the 178 recipients who each received Maundy purses from the Queen. 89 men and 89 women, one for each year of the Queen’s birth, had been nominated by the Sheffield Diocese for their contribution to the Church and the local community. The service has been held for over 900 years and originally the monarch washed the feet of the poor pensioners but this discontinued in 1730 although officers of the Royal Almonry wear linen towels in remembrance of it.
Here’s what she had to say about the day:
Each of us was made to feel very special from arriving at Meadowhall where two supertrams escorted us to the Cutler’s Hall. There our names were checked and we were given our name badges and a drink. We were escorted across to the Cathedral in brilliant sunshine and the Cathedral bells ringing. We found our seats, easy because our companions were seated on the row behind us. Unfortunately I was seated behind the choir so had a very limited view of the proceedings. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at 11 o’clock and the service began. The first half of the recipients received their purses after the first of the Bible readings and the second half after the second reading. Handel’s music ‘Zadok the Priest’ accompanied the Queen’s procession with the Secretary of the Royal Almonry Office and the Yeoman of the Guard and at the rear four children of the Royal Almonry, chosen from four local schools. The Queen moved very quickly down the aisle and suddenly she was in front of me. I did my curtsey, taking care to keep my hat on, held out my hand for the purses, looked up and mouthed a ‘thank you’. I was just too overwhelmed to say the words ‘thank you your majesty’ as we had been instructed, and she had moved on. I remember her beautiful smile as she looked at me.
We were given two leather purses, one red and one white. The red one contains a £5 Churchill commemorative coin and a 50p Battle of Britain coin, a nominal allowance for clothing and provisions, formerly given in kind. The white purse has the specially minted silver 1p, 2p, 3p, and 4p coins in nine plastic wallets to the value of 89p.
After the service we went back to the Cutler’s Hall for lunch, bread roll, chicken and ham pie or vegetable pie with a mash of potatoes and vegetables and green beans, followed by trifle, coffee or tea. There was a can of Foster’s beer at each place setting which we ladies gave to our companions!
Supertram, now back running normal, took us back to Meadowhall where we were met with ladies giving us a yellow, single stem rose. It was a truly wonderful day full with many memories which I am enjoying sharing.
I once delivered a starter pack to a client who had never had their own tenancy. Their new ‘home’ was a bedsit with a living room/bedroom small kitchen and bathroom, it wasn’t particularly inviting. The client had little money and just seemed to be overwhelmed and lost. I brought in the starter pack and the clients eyes widened like he couldn’t believe it was all for him. We sat together on the floor and looked through the treasure trove of items. We made the bed with the new quilt, pillow and covers provided, we put up some curtains as they were provided, we did a little cleaning with the cleaning products provided, we put the few kitchen items that were provided in the cupboards and plugged in the kettle and toaster. He offered me a drink and said, “now I have a home”.
Barnsley Homeless Prevention Team
Happy Burthday to us,
Happy Birthday to us,
Happy Birthday dear Starter Packs
Happy Birthday to us.
and this is why we do what we do:
‘I am a tenancy support worker for the local authority, it makes such a difference to be able to give a Starter Pack to someone who needs it. They contain only the basics but for someone who has nothing it means everything!’
feedback from people who we’ve helped:
‘ I cant believe it I have no words thank you, thank you, it is hard to believe that there are still good people in the world’.
‘ahhh t-bags, kettle and a cup! You have made my day.I can finally have a cuppa after 3 days of just water from the tap because I had nothing else’.
‘ This is a life saver, so many things that have so many uses, I don’t have much money and what I have goes on food and bills I would never be able to buy all of this for myself’.
‘thank you, thank you, thank you, its like Christmas except with useful stuff’.
A special mention to our volunteer, Sylvia, who this month has left us to spend more time helping out with the grandchildren. She has worked tirelessly since Starter Packs was an idea and her huge efforts helped to make us the success we are today. She will be very hard to replace…
… and on that note we are always looking for volunteers. Please get in touch via our website contact form or through VAB if you think you could help!
Thanks to St Andrews and St Johns sent a cheque for £133.17 and to St Marys sent a cheque for £181.