Our Harvest offerings were gratefully received by SHOC. But what about the rest of the year?
Our historical connection to SHOC dates back to when several churches took over a hall in Slough for the night every Christmas to offer a welcome and shelter for people living on the streets.
SHOC was co-founded by Stoke Poges Church member, the late Michael Smith, with the idea that, rather than just shelter and food, people living on the margins of society needed practical support to change their circumstances.
Today, SHOC serves its clients in a variety of ways (information from www.sloughhomeless.org.uk ):
They offer crisis care for people who are sleeping rough and at risk of homelessness – help to find stable accommodation and providing food, clothing, shower and laundry facilities. They effectively support people through recovery from homelessness and into employment, who have a massive challenge to get their life back on track. SHOC’s methods require a choice to change from within, and they work to facilitate that change, in a way that is right for each individual. They work closely with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Betel UK.
SHOC’s skills training and employment services are designed to be accessible to people who simply would not have the confidence to access training elsewhere. This includes literacy, numeracy and other basic employment skills, money & personal health management, cookery, tenancy support and many other skills that are taken for granted in our first world society.
SHOC has limited means and very few paid staff and relies on volunteers to oil the wheels of the machine. Several members of our church are involved with SHOC on a regular basis, collecting unsold food from local shops (and surplus food from church events) and taking it to their headquarters or participating in fundraisers. Just “being there” as Michael’s widow Pam says, who in her 90’s still visits SHOC every week, is a visible demonstration that people do care, in a world that largely ignores or misunderstands their situation.
When I spoke to Pam about SHOC and asked her about her involvement (taking food down to the Centre each week), she particularly wanted to recognise the generosity of the family at Pinewood Nurseries Shop and noted that other shops including big supermarkets have been willing to support in the past, if only they are asked and a method of regular delivery is assured.
The fundraisers for SHOC are popular events – the Quiz in the spring (held at St Andrew’s for the past few years) and the Golf Day organised by Ray Waite at St Joseph’s, Chalfont St Peter and hosted at Burnham Beeches Golf Club, so look out for notices about the events next year and get involved!
How can we help?
Of course our Harvest offerings of produce, groceries and cash donations are an annual gift to SHOC, but did you know that the Coffee Shop also collects small sized toiletries and takes them to SHOC all year round and as a whole church, we think we can do a bit more…
A basket has appeared in the foyer of St Andrew’s, which will become part of our year-round offering. Your help to stock it with all of SHOC’s Most Wanted Items would be a huge blessing: coffee, sugar, long life milk, squash, tinned meat, fish and veg, ketchup and jam. Also, men’s t-shirts and socks of any age, size or colour.
If you would like to know more about SHOC and how you could contribute to their work, directly or indirectly, please visit their website www.sloughhomeless.org.uk or speak to Natasha.