Portsmouth skills workshops helping to improve lives

Gary, one of the cooking team, helping to prepare lunch at Breakthru.
Gary, one of the cooking team, helping to prepare lunch at Breakthru.

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The REV SUSIKARAN JAMES, priest-in-charge at St Simon’s Church, Southsea, talks about a community group ready to help those in need and teach them new skills.

I’m fairly new to Southsea, but one of the things I love about St Simon’s Church, is the care it shows to people from the community.

For years our congregation has faithfully offered hot meals each week to those who are homeless or are finding domestic life difficult, at our ‘Sunday Suppers’.

In the past couple of years we’ve also launched a self-help group which is designed to help vulnerable adults including those with addictions, mental health problems or homelessness issues. We call it Breakthru.

We run different workshops every Friday morning from about 10.30am onwards for those who find it difficult to get work. People can learn about cooking, arts and crafts, painting, computers, DIY or creative writing. These are the kind of skills that might help them to get a job or even just gain confidence within themselves.

Volunteers from the church run activities in different parts of the church hall, and then those who join us do the shopping and prepare and cook lunch as a way of learning about food, nutrition and budgeting.

Then at about 12.30pm everyone sits down to eat the food prepared by the cookinggroup.

Some of our members have been alcoholics or addicts, and they may have lost their jobs, their homes or their families as a result. Doing something as simple as writing a poem, putting up a shelf or cooking a meal can help them to start putting their lives back together again.

The volunteers from our congregation get to know those in need. They may meet up during the week as well, for mentoring or just to catch up.

I was incredibly touched that when I started my job earlier this year, the Breakthru group decided to prepare a three-course meal one Friday night to welcome me.We know that Jesus made a particular point of talking to those whom society had rejected – in his day it was tax collectors or lepers.

I’m so glad that our congregation is doing something positive for those people who many in today’s society would try to avoid.

Our church is at Waverley Road, which has recently been in the news for the

wrong reasons. I’m so glad that Breakthru is here, to offer some hope to those who may feel on the margins of society.

The full address is St Simon’s Church, Waverley Road, Southsea, PO5 2PW.

You can contact the parish office by calling (023) 9282 9440 for any information you might reuire, or, you can visit the website: stsimons-southsea.org.uk.