My Journey with Cirencester Upper Room by Sam Burgess
IT STARTED WITH THE GARDENING GROUP
I used to attend a coffee morning at St. Lawrence Church with my Mum and one of my Nan’s on a Wednesday morning. One session they organised a guest speaker, Maureen Rowcliffe Quarry. She was a part of the Barnwood Trust and she told me about the work she does. She explained there was a group at Chesterton Farm doing gardening, for example potting up flowers, digging holes, taking snippets of flowers, and tidying up the borders and the flowers beds.
THE UPPER ROOM
I found out about The Upper Room from the gardening group as Pete was the drop-in manager at the time; he said he helped to run a drop in session on a Monday and Friday from 10 am till 12pm. He asked if I would like to attend to meet new people, interact with people and have a drink.
The following Monday I attended the Upper Room; I was nervous as I went on my own and I did not know what to expect. I found the building at 37a Market Place Cirencester and I pressed the top button of the buzzer. A few moments later I heard a voice I recognised – it was Bernie Harding whom I already knew from Cirencester College in the shop as part of my College course.
I went in to the room and sat down – I felt so welcome to be coming into a place I never been to before but I was also nervous. I was offered a cup of coffee. Just Pete and Bernie were there at first then the buzzer rang and it was another friendly face – a lady called Brenda Wills who I hadn’t seen for a few years so we had a catch up. Then a few other people came – Pete introduced me to everyone in the room and made me feel really welcome. Even though that was my first drop in session they started to involve me in activities like planning the summer play scheme and a day trip to Burford Wildlife Park. From that first day, I have been attending the Upper Room for three and a half years, every Monday and Friday.
The Cooking Group
I have been attending the Cooking Group at the Parish Centre Cirencester for around one year which is run by Marion and Bernie from The Upper Room. They have shown me how to cook a healthy meal on a small budget and have shown me knife skills such as how to peel different vegetables and fruits.
During the 6 week summer holidays The Upper Room team run a playscheme at Saint Lawrence Church in Chesteron for families from the Chesterton Estate. Parents asked us to do this as they didn’t have much money to have fun with their children. We run this once a week for 5 weeks with different themes every week like pirates, under the sea, monsters and a sports day. We’ve all got a part to play to make this happen, from helping in kitchen, making the drinks, helping the children, making art together and entertaining the children.
Since I joined I have been on a few trips, going to the West Midlands Safari Park, Burford Wildlife Park and to the wonderful Giffords Circus. We’ve also been to Gloucester Catheral, Cirencester Christmas Spectacular and the Christmas lights switch on together.
The Intern Scheme
Our latest venture together is to set up an Intern Scheme to help us learn new skills for work. There are 4 interns and we are learning all kinds of new and different skills and improving our c.v’s. I have been doing a course with a fellow intern called Amber; we have both already learnt new skills and we are only 1 month into the course! I am doing a course through Asdan about the world of volunteering. I have written some blog posts for our website, learned to do a health and safety risk assessment, and observed someone else volunteering and reflected about what I saw.
My Faith Journey
When I started coming to Cirencester Upper Room, I hardly had a religion or went to church, but since I have been attending the Upper Room I have begun to find my own kind of faith. I have been attending the Upper Room Communion service once a month. I help by offering the Communion bread and wine. In the second week of the playscheme,I am being confirmed by Bishop Rachel, so this is another step in my faith journey.