Mount Merrion Church, Down and Dromore MU and Active Belfast join forces for a weekly mini–bootcamp and packed lunch giveaway in the middle of the Cregagh estate.
Since last year, before coronavirus was even heard of, Mount Merrion Church had been planning a ‘Grub Club’ aimed tackling holiday hunger by providing hot meals twice a week to local children and their families over the Easter and summer holidays. Restrictions imposed to help contain the virus put paid to these plans, however the concept was adapted and this week the first mini-bootcamp and packed lunch giveaway took place on the green area in the middle of the estate.
This initiative has attracted support from Active Belfast, who provided funding for the development and production of exercise stop signs that were placed around the park, and which are also available to local primary schools for use in their daily mile exercise programmes. Through the Active Belfast initiative, the church was also able to give away fruit to those in the local community.
Three sports coaches, Carl Green from Peninsula Fitness Bootcamps and local volunteers Rachel Colligan and Rachel Warnock, all of whom had already been providing various exercise classes through the church’s Community Fitness Hub, helped run the bootcamp which was attended by about twenty-five adults and children of all abilities.
Carl from Peninsula Fitness Bootcamps said, “We believe active people are happy people and we are committed to building healthier, stronger communities. Our involvement in the daily mile challenge in the Cregagh estate has been to create a selection of bodyweight exercises for children to participate in while on their one-mile route. These exercises will help children build natural fitness and promote outdoor adventures.”
Mothers' Union support
The Mothers’ Union in the Diocese of Down and Dromore had planned to get involved with the original ‘Grub Club’ by providing a team to prepare and serve the meals and also to support the initiative financially through their “Mums in May” fund, which awards grants to support projects in communities across the country. Clare Stewart, Action and Outreach Coordinator, said, “One of our objectives as a Mothers’ Union is ‘to promote conditions in society favourable to stable family life and the protection of children’, so when we heard about the “Grub Club” project which Revd Adrian was planning we were very keen to support the project in every way we could.”
When the plans changed, the Mothers’ Union quickly adapted and offered their support in providing a packed-lunch give-away instead. Roberta Macartney, Mothers’ Union Diocesan President said, “Mothers’ Union in Action is about seeing a need and supporting those better placed in the community to fulfil it. We are able through our ‘Mum’s in May’ grant to be able to supply food for this worthwhile project. Mothers’ Union are delighted to support Mount Merrion Church with this initiative and look forward to helping in whatever way we can. We wish Revd Green and his team every blessing as they undertake this worthwhile project.” Clare added, “We hope that many families will have some fun together at the Mini Bootcamp and Lunch Giveaway” over the Summer of 2020 and we look forward to being involved in the Grub Club in the future.”
When asked why the church wanted to provide this service, Adrian said, “The ‘Grub Club’ idea and now this mini-bootcamp and packed-lunch giveaway simply reflects our heart for the community we are part of. During the pandemic we have sought to work in partnership with others to provide for the most vulnerable and isolated in the area. It is clear that finances are tight and through the uniform recycling scheme that we are currently running and this weekly give-away, we hope to share something of the love of Jesus in a practical way.”
The bootcamps and packed lunch giveaways will continue weekly over the summer. The day may vary due to the weather so check out Mount Merrion Church’s Facebook page for updates. Social distancing measure mean the numbers are currently limited to 30.