Oxford Phab have been involved for several years in helping with the fundraising for the Wesley Memorial Church Open Doors building project. We were very happy to have a presence at the opening event.
Sonia Hicks, the President of the Methodist Conference officially opened the new Atrium and were stalls from several of the groups who use the premises, including Phab.
We also performed a signed song, ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free‘, boosted by church members, and enjoyed the performances by other groups connected with the church. There was also food ! It was great opportunity to mingle with other church users, and we look forward to continuing to enjoy the use of the refurbished buildings.
In a return to tradition we celebrated the approach of Shrove Tuesday with delicious pancakes, and a variety of favourite toppings.
Although opinions may differ about the best topping for a pancake, a wide variety were available, lemon, sugar, bananas, whipped cream, chocolate sauces and so on. Several members bring their own contributions to make sure that their own choice will be available, and there was plenty to go round.
Unfortunately the Covid pandemic meant that we could not celebrate Kathryn being nominated for the Paul Hope award with trip to a ceremony in London, as we did for Simon’s nomination, but a presentation at Wesley Memorial meant that more people could enjoy the occasion, particularly Tom.
Fitting in with an activity that Wesley Memorial Church has been doing, we made sculptures of of bread dough. These could be of people we found inspiring – our ‘roll models’, or anything we liked.
It was good to get back to creative activities together.
Unfortunately the worsening Covid-19 situation meant that we were unable to meet in person at Wesley Memorial, but several of us, including some who could not have come in person anyway, were able to get together on-line and chat.
We rounded off the evening with some Christmas themed Zumba, run by George Martini.
Due to rising Covid numbers this was our last face-to-face meeting of the year. Members were asked to take a lateral flow test before coming, to wear masks, and socially distance from people not in the same family group.
Despite the difficult circumstances those who were able, or safe, to get to Wesley Memorial had an enjoyable evening.
Having not met in our normal meeting place at Wesley Memorial Church in the centre for Oxford since March 2020, and having had our AGM last year via Zoom, it was great to be able to hold this year’s AGM as our first ever hybrid meeting.
This enabled some members who would otherwise have had to travel some distance, and those who are shielding to participate.
Each year at our Annual General Meeting we award the Roy Lewis Trophy to someone who has inspired us by their actions and contribution to our club. The past year has been difficult for so many people but our members chose to award trophies this year to three people who have stayed strong and positive in adversity. Their bravery through sadness and difficulty has been an inspiration to us all. We send our love to Trisha, Melissa and Katherine.
We also had physical confirmation of the results of our sponsored walk to raise money for Toilet Twinning, and were able to show off the certificates.
We raised enough to twin both accessible toilets and four taps at the church.
As well as the usual AGM business of elections, accounts etc it was an opportunity for members to see the new church atrium, with its automatic doors.
It has been a long wait for Wesley Memorial Open Doors building project to reach this stage, but the results are beautiful. They are also much more accessible. At the far end of the space between the church on the left and the John Wesley Room on the right, before the atrium was built, roughly where the wooden desk is, there was the door into the building. It was installed before accessibility was an issue, and so opened outwards, as fire escape doors should do, and had a door closer to prevent it staying open, to conserve energy. It was also at the top of quite a short steep slope, which has been converted into the gentle unnoticeable slope of the atrium. The combination of these factors meant that entering the premises in a wheelchair, even for someone who was normally independent, required three people, one entering, one holding the door and one pushing.
All the fundraising Oxford Phab did to help support the Open Doors project has been most worthwhile.
Two things greatly important to us came together in this event – helping others and toilets. Supporting each other is core to what Phab means, and toilets loom large in the memories of anyone who has been out and about with Phab, particularly in the days when accessible toilets were scarce and often dumping grounds for unused furniture ! (Frustrating when someone is desperate to use them for their inteneded use)
There is an organisation which works to build toilets in the world’s poorest countries We tend to take access to good sanitation for granted – most of us even have a toilet in our own homes! For many people this is not the case, and Toilet Twinning was set up to help them. You can find out more about them by visiting their website at https://www.toilettwinning.org/
We went on a wet walk at Farmoor reservoir to raise money to ‘twin’ the two accessible toilets. It was very wet !
However we persevered, and despite the rain, made it to the far side of Farmoor reservoir.