Northampton offer a Helping Hand to local children
When Claire Hirst, wife of the Northampton England Stake President, Karl Hirst, and mother of six children, discovered help was desperately needed in her local preschool she immediately thought of the Helping Hands service programme. In the beautiful, Northamptonshire village of Brixworth the challenge of repairing the previously used Victorian school building, now called The Centre, commenced. It could also only be achieved over the half-term break, whilst the children were off school.
As Sister Hirst recalls, “I became a member of the preschool committee in October last year as my son, Reuben, goes to the preschool. At the first meeting I attended, the long list of maintenance jobs that needed doing was discussed. The committee did not have sufficient funds to cover the cost of all the jobs and had no known contacts for people who would carry out the work voluntarily. I got the impression that this list had come up several times before and was just getting longer and longer. I felt very strongly that we could help and so gave them a brief explanation of the Church’s Helping Hands service. They were very interested and asked me to find out if our members would be willing to take on the preschool as one of our projects. I spoke with our elder’s quorum president, Luke Mace, who agreed that this would be a great thing for the members to get involved in.”
So the preschool gave the Northampton and Duston ward members a list of jobs and members chose the things they felt could be tackled in the half term break. All the walls of the main building, a previous school, were painted, the woodwork, window frames and doors in the main hall, downstairs kitchen and bathrooms. A large hole in the kitchen ceiling was repaired and painted. The bathroom taps and toilets were replaced. The youth from four wards, including Kettering and Huntingdon, removed all the hundreds of staples from the notice boards around the hall ready for painting. Extra lighting was put in the bathrooms as the original lighting left it quite dark in there and the children didn't like to use them saying they were scary! Broken floor tiles were replaced in the main hall. The bathrooms had new flooring and skirting boards as they were water damaged.
Outside the building, the large, muddy raised bed was weeded, some plants were removed, and then a membrane and bark chippings were put down to cover the whole area. This made it suitable for the children to play on, the idea being that it would be a mini beast area where the children could weave in and out of the larger, established bushes there. Large areas of ivy were cleared from the wall that separates the centre from the Saxon church car park. Last summer there was a problem with wasp nests throughout the ivy so the removal has made it much safer for the children. A broken window frame repaired, guttering was replaced/repaired and overgrown trees were cut back.
There were about 110 members helping over the half-term week who donated around 430 hours of service between them.
Emma Hindes, the preschool supervisor was absolutely delighted with the results, especially as it was all achieved over one week. “We are just overwhelmed by the amount of work that was done, we can’t express what a difference this will make to the staff and children at the preschool. As she wrote to Claire, “We are so very grateful for all your hard work. It’s difficult to believe that so many members from your church group were willing to give up their spare time to help us out. It’s amazing!” Claire remarks, “Every time I dropped my son, Reuben, off for at least two weeks after the work was complete, she (Emma) thanked me again for all we'd accomplished”.