SWINDON Charity Appeals for Monthly Financial Support

SWINDON Charity Appeals for Monthly Financial Support

Latest news from Swindon Night Shelter

SWINDON Night Shelter, the charity that provides support for rough sleepers, the homeless and those whose housing leaves them vulnerable, has launched two fund-raising schemes to help them become more financially sustainable.

Celebrating ten years in 2019, Swindon Night Shelter has grown and developed its services and has helped thousands of people over the last decade. Yet maintaining these services is costly for an organisation which receives no grant funding from government – either on a national or local level.

This month, they have launched both a Friends of Swindon Night Shelter initiative and a business sponsorship scheme to help meet monthly bills.

Organiser Becky Davison said: ‘We feel privileged to have helped others as part of this Christian-based organisation. We wish to continue this work. To do that we we need financial sustainability. These schemes will help us to achieve it.’

Swindon Night Shelter and its army of volunteers support five main projects around homelessness in the town:

*The Haven – a drop in day centre on Queen’s Drive which opened in January.
*The Hub – a café on Clive Parade, Cricklade Road, Pinehurst offering work experience.
*The Hive – warehouse for storage and work experience opportunities.
*The Shelter – the original service offered, a Friday night stay in St Mary’s Church Hall, Rodbourne Cheney with a hot meal.
*The Gate cafes – community cafes and pop up shop in the Parks and Penhill, set up to prevent homelessness, isolation and holiday hunger.

Becky and the team are now asking people to consider donating on a monthly basis to help with ongoing costs.

“A donation of £5 a month covers our internet costs for a month to support our guests with claims and accessing essential services online while they are with us. £10 a month covers the cost of a TV licence, allowing enjoyment of an activity most of us take for granted. £25 covers the road tax for our vans. They’re are on the road every day collecting food, donations and taking our guests to appointments or to a shelter,’ Becky explained.

The charity is also asking businesses around the town to consider donating on a more consistent basis too. There are opportunities to become:
*A main partner – £1000 a month which covers the cost of food and utility bills.
*An official business partner – £500 a month which pays the wages of a part-time donations coordinator.
*An official supplier – able to offer a range of free or heavily discounted services or products including an electrician, book-keeper or accountant.

Becky Davison, Swindon Night Shelter.

For more details on the opportunities on offer visit http://www.swindonnightshelter.uk or call 01793 613116 during office hours.

The Royal Big Knit

The Royal Big Knit

The Royal Big Knit

The 8th of June 2019 is a special day. The Yarn balls are aligning for a spectacular event : The Royal Big Knit.

The Swindon Big Knit is hosting another afternoon of knitting, crocheting and sewing to create lovely warm blankets for Swindon’s homeless.

These events are held every other month or so, at the Customer Service Hub at the Swindon Orbital Shopping Centre. Everyone is welcome to come along and help. It’s free to join in and all materials are provided.

We’re always appealing for more knitters, crocheters and sewers to help make the blankets. The workshops are only two and a half hours long and warm blankets for the homeless are in such great demand. It’s a short time to make as many blankets as we can and extra hands are appreciated.

the royal big knit - crown on a cushion

The next event on the 8th of June is a special date because it’s the day to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday.

So, for a bit of fun we thought we would call it the Royal Big Knit.

Nearer the time we’ll email out free knitting and crochet patterns for attendees to make themselves a crown to wear at the event.

We will email the patterns out to everyone signed up to the Swindon Big Knit Newsletter. You can add yourself here http://eepurl.com/dHLx11

NB: The crowns are for fun and not a requirement.

The 8th of June is also World Wide Knit In Public Day which started in 2005 as a way of bringing knitters together.

We hear a lot about how knitting is good for your wellbeing. Yet it it’s a very solitary activity unless you bring a lot of knitters together in one room – and then it becomes a yarn party!

The up and coming Swindon Big Knit is an important event in the yarn calendar. We’re Purling One for the Queen, Knitting one for the World Wide Knit In Public Day and Gaining one for the Swindon Homeless. While having a good time!

We would love to invite more people to the Big Knit events. It’s such a good cause for the crafters and the recipients. If you can, please come along and join in.

If you can’t make the June date add yourself to the newsletter so we can let you now when the next event is.

When and Where?

The Royal Big Knit is happening on the 8th June 2019 at the Costumer Service Hub, at the Swindon Orbital.

It’s the last building on the same side of the road of Boots and DW, towards the roundabout near Haydon Wick.

It starts at 2pm till 4.30pm – it’s free and all you need to bring is yourself. You can bring your own tools if you prefer

Tickets are flying for Swindon’s only pop music festival as full line-up is confirmed

Tickets are flying for Swindon’s only pop music festival as full line-up is confirmed

Latest news from the MFOR Festival team


TICKETS for the first MFor Festival are selling faster than anticipated as the team behind this inaugural event confirm the full music and activity line up.

Taking place at Lydiard Park in Swindon on Saturday July 27 between 11am and 1o.30pm MFor will be both a music festival and a family-friendly community event. 

Graham Stobbs, co-organiser and founder of Synister Music, said: ‘We’re so thrilled with the support we’ve already seen in ticket sales from across Swindon, Wiltshire and the surrounding areas – and also from local businesses and organisations – who are queuing up to support this unique community music festival.’

The music line-up features headline act Years & Years who will be appearing as part of their Palo Santo World Tour. Other acts include special guest Ella Eyre, HRVY, Becky Hill, Toploader and opening the music will be Swindon’s own Jahmene Douglas.  Jahmene will open the line-up at about 3pm and the headline act will take to the stage at about 9pm.

Latest news from the MFOR Festival team

A second stage has now been included and there will be DJ sets, street dancers and other local music acts. One of those will feature local DJ, Jay Hayden. 

Co-organiser Debra Collins. ‘MFor is not just about the music. Fun, family and community is at the heart of this great event and everything we do. Axe throwing, archery, crossbow, assault course, inflatables and so much more are included free to guarantee an exciting day for everyone. We are truly humbled by everyone’s support.’

Experiences on offer include climbing walls and a huge inflatable assault course, go-karting, a rifle range, axe-throwing, a funfair and a dedicated children’s area including activities such as face-painting, workshops and entertainment from street performers.

There will also be a food and drinks area (operating a Challenge 25 policy around alcohol consumption), community participation and a charitable element with money being raised for veteran charity Walking With The Wounded and other local projects. The Wiltshire-based Red Devils, the official parachute display team of the British Army will also be parachuting in at about noon. 

Many businesses have already lined up support the event.  These include:

  1. Sky’s The Limit Entertainment – providing the inflatable assault course. 
  2. Farrs Catering of Swindon – for providing food vendors and a fun fair.
  3. Bring The Game Over – providing virtual reality games’ experiences.  

Graham said: ‘We would especially like to thank Tom Falding, Bailey Farr, Swindon Borough Council and Lydiard Park, who have really become part of the organising team and supported us in getting this first event off the ground.’

The MFOR Music Festival takes place on Saturday July 27. Gates open at 11am and the finish time is 10:30pm.  

Ticket prices were tiered and now cost £37.99 per adult until the end of May.

Children’s tickets are £12.99 (aged five to 13 inclusive) and must be accompanied by at least one full-paying adult.

Under fives go free – one young child per full-paying adult. VIP tickets for fast track access and extra benefits are £70 each. 

 Information and tickets are available on the website at  https://www.mforfestival.co.uk

See also: https://swindonian.me/2019/03/29/toploader-joining-the-line-up-for-swindons-mfor-festival/

Eastcott Window Wanderland

Eastcott Window Wanderland

March 4th 2019

How wonderful it is to be writing about Eastcott window wanderland – yet another brilliant community ‘thing’ organised by the better than brilliant Eastcott community group – based at Savernake Street Community Hall. They’re jolly good at ‘things’ it has to be said.

The Window Wanderland is the latest, super fab initiative from the Eastcott group. I’m ever in awe of what they achieve there. They are such a vibrant, imaginative and well-organised group – what they achieve leaves me impressed, breathless and exhausted in equal measure!

During the two nights of 2nd and 3rd of March, over 130 window makers dressed windows in well over fifty of Swindon’s streets and transformed them into an illuminated art gallery. Images of a small few in the gallery below.

But where did this wonderful idea come from?

The window wanderland concept began in in Bristol. Eastcott resident, Helen Ganberg spotted it there and approached the Eastcott community group to sound them out about bringing it to Eastcott.

Eastcott realised the project in Swindon with the help of a £6,500 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund. The chairman of Eastcott group, Caroline Davis-Khan told the Swindon Advertiser, that they’d worked on the project for six-seven months.

As group trustee Laura Holmes said, it’s a nice creative way to bring people together, that showed how many artistic and creative people there are around. And she’s right – there’s a staggering amount of creativity in Swindon.

To make the exhibition more inclusive, the group used the grant to set up workshops.

Mayor of Swindon Junab Ali, who was at the launch, said: “It’s a fantastic idea, this is just bringing the whole community of the area together. In some places, neighbours don’t talk to neighbours and there is no activity in the community, so this event is fantastic.

And now a few photographs purloined from Facebook (I’m a terrible photographer, trust me it’s best this way) of a small number of the windows. See also this from Swindon Viewpoint:https://www.facebook.com/SwindonViewpoint73/videos/401411213925244/

Especially for Laura Jane Lowry – her gorgeous contribution to the Eastcott Window Wanderland.

Marilyn Trew and Ruth Wintle are two super artistic ladies that run art workshops at Savernake Street Hall. Here’s the windows they all worked on:

If anything sums up the event it’s this – seen on Twitter:

To find out more about the Eastcott area, its community and history read their gorgeous book Legacy of a Rag and Bone Man.

Radnor Street Cemetery blog

Radnor Street Cemetery blog

Radnor Street Cemetery blog - image shows a gravestone.

Listeners! I have grave news for you. No apologies for the pun. I can’t help myself, I can’t stop digging – they’ll be the death of me.

Esteemed Swindon historian, Frances Bevan, has got a new blog. And it promises to be a rather riveting combination of research and fictionalised stories with which Frances will tell the story of Radnor Street Cemetery in Swindon. And, I guess, its inhabitants.

Radnor Street is, amongst being a regular cemetery, a Commonwealth War Graves site.

Photo of squadron leader UK airforce

It’s also the resting place of Harold Morley Starr.

Read more about him here.

Frances is a co-founder of Radnor Street Cemetery Society  so you can be sure she knows a tomb from a crypt. And even more about who is inside them!

To give you a further idea of what the blog is about – this is taken from the blog’s home page:

‘Every death touches someone; a husband, a wife, a friend, a lover, a stranger, leaving a mark on history itself. Each of these blogposts begin with the re-imagined stories of that unknown witness and continues with researched facts supported by contemporary accounts. Sources include books, emphemera etc held at Local Studies, Central Library, parish registers, Radnor Street Cemetery burial registers, Wills, census returns and the British Newspaper Archives website.’

I’ve read Frances’ first post and it leaves you wanting more. So I urge you to follow Frances on Twitter and keep up to the date with her graveyard goings on.

The Journey

The Journey

15th December 2018

The Journey

Last weekend saw me – and many others – in Swindon’s Old Town being part of The Journey.

The Journey, as described on photographer Elmar Rubio’s website, was ‘an immense, immersive theatrical telling of the Christmas story’. It entailed a processional performance that unfolded throughout Old Town that showed ‘the true nature, the faith and the fearlessness of those chosen to birth and raise Jesus Christ. It was truly epic, beautiful and moving and I offer my biggest and most heartfelt congratulations and thanks to all those who made it happen.

It began at Lethbridge School with crowd scenes, and the Romans telling the residents of Nazareth that they had to return to their birth place to be counted – for a census. The Journey progressed down to Wood Street, through a bazaar, and into Christ Church for the Nativity – with a real baby!

A couple of images below of this wonderful theatrical event, with thanks to Elmar Rubio for permission to use them. There’s dozens more here – follow the journey in fantastic photographic detail. Elmar is a brilliant photographer.

Mary and joseph

Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus - The Journey

Mary and Joseph and the Infant Jesus

As I walked along with the performance it occurred to me how much the Christmas story carries resonances for all of us. Whether you’re a firm believer in God and Christ, are on the fence or strongly of the opinion that it’s nothing more than the greatest story ever told – it has resonances. Because, aside from the birth of Christ element, the Christmas story is one of people being made to move en masse, without fault and without choice. Whether it be fleeing from war, or famine or natural disaster – or forced from their homes for racist/political reasons – people have suffered mass exodus since time immemorial. The world hasn’t come to anything. Such atrocities were ever thus.

The residents of Nazareth, and all towns and villages in the region, were forced to undertake a long and arduous journey to Bethlehem because the Romans decided to count the population in its occupied territories. No matter if you were old, or sick or, like Mary, heavily pregnant – you had to go. Many must have died along the way.

And mass exodus is something that moved David Bent to paint his Movement 2000 collection. These works took David two years to paint. He undertook the project from feeling moved, inspired – driven even – to create a major piece of work in celebration of the new millennium. When he chose ‘Movement’ as the umbrella title for these paintings he was inadvertently prescient. Why? Because around this time the Balkan/Yugoslav raged. And, as we know, where ever conflict exists there are refugees. Where ever there is conflict there are people on the move seeking sanctuary.

You can view images of Movement 2000 on the David Bent studio website here.

So as I toddled along reflecting on all this, I considered how apt that this performance take place in a town that is home to the Harbour Project, aiding refugees and asylum seekers and is Swindon City of Sanctuary. And I reflected too, how so so very fortunate I am – that I am not them. I reflected that, to coin a cliché – there but for the grace of God go I. Go you. Go all of us.

I’m not wholly a fan of T S Eliot – but I do think that his The Journey of the Magi conveys how difficult that journey was. 

On the subject of the Harbour Project and Swindon as a city of sanctuary see also this post. 

Journey to safety mural

Journey to safety mural at Drove Primary School




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