FISH - Food (and Fun) In School Holidays - started in the summer of 2014 after we noticed a rise in the number of families accessing the foodbank service during the long summer holidays.
We wanted to be proactive and help these families rather than just keep giving out food parcels, so FISH was born to both serve in a practical way by offering a free hot meal and free fun activities to low income families, as well as helping to further connect the church and the community they are in.
It’s hard to say this project has been ‘successful’ because the more people who come (a standard measure of success) means the more people are in need which is definitely not a good thing! However, the success part is that many families have formed new and meaningful relationships with each other and can support each other and not feel so isolated.Relationships between the church and individuals have also grown, with families attending services and events the churches have held, all because they have attended FISH, been welcomed, accepted and been invited!
A number of churches are involved in leading and running FISH clubs – these include Oak Grove Community Church, St Matthew’s at Thorpe Hamlet and several in Lakenham (New Hope Christian Centre, St John’s and St Mark’s) which have done so since the beginning. Hope at Wymondham and NCBC have been involved for a few years; St Thomas’ at Russell Street for a couple of years; and since 2019, King’s at Mile Cross – all running a club in their area.
The model of the club has remained similar at all venues, but each has been tweaked and honed to fit with their
venues, communities, the area’s need and the volunteers who give up their time to enable the club to take place.
Whilst the club’s aim is not to be evangelical but to simply serve, this attitude of kindness, giving and acceptance often leads to deeper conversation and even just ‘why do you do it’ can enable volunteers to speak about faith and their reason for being involved with the club or with the church. Some parents have come along to Alpha groups since attending FISH.
Our overall aim is to feed those who might be hungry, but so much of the time families leave both the
foodbank and the FISH club saying that, while the food was appreciated, the company, a listening ear and the acceptance was even more valuable and we know that this is the Lord working through us.
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