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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Heading 'Oot the back'!

Updated: May 13, 2021

Ideas came thick and fast at this week's Network Get-togethers via Zoom. Susan Kirkbride in Orkney told us how she 'pounced' when her local gin distillery in Kirkwall set up wooden booths for outdoor socialising. The Orkney Distillery in Ayre Road was quick off the mark, constructing a well thought-out and pleasant place for its customers, with plenty of hand sanitiser at the entrance and on the tables. The Peedie Kirk minister has arranged for older folk to meet there for tea and refreshments, she told us at one of our online Get-togethers this week as a safe alternative (to the customary indoor social events) during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, when someone suggested a 'Hot potatoes' group I thought at first we were talking about a topical discussion group covering burning issues of the day! But no. It is a lunch club for older people, with a difference in Leicestershire. Church provides the baked potatoes, you bring your own favourite filling. Simple! The plan grew out of a frugal Lent lunch idea and has caught on for other times of the year.

The discussion group idea, by the way, was one we came across at Keswick in Devon one year when an organiser told us about his 'Breaking News' group which was attracting men mostly, who like to discuss current affairs. Topics they had covered at the time included: the ethics of global companies evading tax, trolling on the internet, Donald Trump and Republicanism, the NHS, and reality TV (the Great British Bake Off)!

We've been offering three Network Get-togethers this week on Zoom, including one in the evening. Comments afterwards showed much appreciation for the blend of worshipping and chatting together.

‘Many thanks for such an encouraging and interesting morning. Zoom is certainly a wonderful way to keep in touch with what everyone is doing!’
‘Thank you for the online Get-together this morning. It was lovely as always to have time to worship together and to hear news and ideas from other Anna Chaplains. It is great that from Kent I have been with people from Scotland, Wales, Northern and Southern England this morning!’

Topics discussed ranged from new names for memory cafes – how about a Companions Cafe, or Silver Service? – the difficulties of getting back into care homes to visit residents and the deprivations so many residents have suffered since lockdowns began more than a year ago... to the imaginative ways in which churches are providing worship at arms length, notably the Maidstone team of Anna Chaplains – see

So, if you belong to the Anna Chaplaincy network and haven't yet plugged into one of these 90-minute informal gatherings, look out for Wendy Hopkins' email invitations to forthcoming ones. There's one tomorrow afternoon at 3.00 pm (12 May) and then on 7 and 8 July 2021.

And are you following the Anna Chaplaincy Facebook page yet? Sign up and keep fully up to date with all that's happening...



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