Churchgoers raise record amount to benefit local and international projects

Bishop Christopher Foster with Simon Randell at the League of Friends of Oaklands
Bishop Christopher Foster with Simon Randell at the League of Friends of Oaklands
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GENEROUS worshippers from the Church of England Diocese of Portsmouth have raised more than £30,000 for a variety of projects across Portsmouth and Fareham.

A staggering £31,400 was raised – 50 per cent more than last year – through sacrificial donations and fundraising events via the Bishop’s Lent appeal.

The record amount will be split between Bethlehem Arab Society for Reconciliation (BASR), which works across Palestine and provides surgery and rehabilitation for victims of violence, and local projects that help people with mental health problems.

Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster said: ‘This is a huge achievement, for which I am immensely grateful to you all. It is a tangible sign of how committed we are as a diocese to supporting the needs of people in our communities and the wider world.’

One of the beneficiaries was the League of Friends of Oaklands, in Lambourn Close, Fareham, which gives support and company to adults with severe and enduring mental health issues.

The group, which meets at Titchfield Community Centre, has received £600.

It was set up 19 years ago by Heather Watts and Irene Bromley and has 60 members who meet weekly to share a meal, learn domestic skills and make friends. For many of them it is the only place they feel comfortable and loved.

Simon Randell, 51, from Fareham, said: ‘I enjoy people’s company, especially the bingo and raffle, and I’ve made a lot of friends here. I like to make the puddings, especially something like Eton mess.’

Heather added: ‘There are more people who need this kind of group, especially as other mental health centres keep closing.

‘But we also need more volunteers to help us, as we’re not getting any younger. You don’t need any special skills, just to be able to listen.’

If you would like to help, contact Heather on heatherwatts7@aol.com.

Other groups to receive money include: Portsmouth Mind (£500), Off the Record (£2,300), Veterans Outreach Service (£2,450), Portsmouth Abuse Rape Crisis Service (£2,450) and Independent Arts (£2,300).