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January – news in brief

(a)  The recipe book produced by Scone and St Martin’s Church has gone into a reprint, and there are always new recipes appearing on their website – worth a look!

(b)   The Jambouree Cabaret Singers are hosting a virtual Burns Supper, this coming Sunday 24th  at 7p.m. to which all are welcome.  The link to tune in is: www.jambouree.co.uk/burnsnight   Have your whisky, Iron Bru or wine ready to toast The Bard!

(c)  Quaker meeting this Friday 22nd at midday to mark the coming into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons – see separate e-mail for details.

(d)  Marcia Mackenzie passes on the regrets of the World Day of Prayer group who are unable to provide a live service this year on 1st Friday in March.  If anyone would like to have a copy of the service book please contact her on mackenziem70@gmail.com.  There will be an on-line service; details to follow.

(e)  Sarah Lawson renewed her appeal for new Board members for Harbour Counselling Service – please alert members of your faith community who might be approached.  I have attached their appeal again to this e-mail.

(f) Fraser Hunter told us that Skinnergate is getting busier;  the mental health toll of the pandemic is becoming ever more obvious and he requests prayer for all involved.      

(g)  Marjorie explained that the Foodbank is currently very well off for food, and in fact space is at a premium for storing it. Instead, please consider donating toiletries, washing powder, washing up liquid or even face masks – all non-food items which people  still have to buy. The Foodbank is becoming very busy.

(h)  Similarly, Wilma Coleman said that the Giraffe Foodshare in Mill Street is meeting a real need with 28 people there on Monday – some come just for the chat and socialising.   

(i)  Neil Stewart reported that after 26 years, the North Church’s “Open Door” has closed for the last time, though he is confident something else will appear in its place.    Rev Grant Mclauchlan has indicated that he will be leaving Tulloch Net at the end of June, and  his replacement is being sought.  (We send best wishes to Grant for his future.)

(j)  Kathryn Howe thanked everyone who supported the Salvation Army appeal at Christmas time. They  continue to have their Drop In facility.  Their Furniture Project is relocating to the James Barclay building in the Glasgow Road.  And they have successfully recruited a Community Manager for Perth.

Carol Service

We are sorry that the PACT annual Carol service was unable to go ahead this year, but we are happy to share the recent Jambouree Choir concert. The Jambouree Choir is directed by Edna Auld, organist at St Leonard- in-the-Fields, and this year’s concert comes from the grounds of St Mary’s Monastery.  Enjoy!

R2020 concert – recorded outdoors at S Mary’s, Kinnoull – with contributions from some well-known old friends
2019 – What a difference a year has made

PACT – December update

Many thanks to everyone who was able to join us last night for the PACT Advent catch-up.   We were joined by representatives from 14 different  churches, as well as hearing from the Bield, the Shawl Ministry and Skinnergate.   

Much of what was shared was about the various churches’ plans for Advent and Christmas services , some online and/or pre-recorded,  some in churches and some ‘blended’ services – check out individual websites for more information.   Churches have also been able to continue to support good causes, including – Poppy Scotland, Christian Aid, Crossreach, Blythswood, and Christian Rebuild ( a Congregational Church charity helping rebuilding in Beirut after the explosion.)

We were sorry to hear of the recent death of Rev Bruce Thomson, who had been such a supporter of local ecumenical activity, and the not so recent death (in April) of Monsignor Charles Hendry of St John the Baptist  Church and Mary Magdalene Church.    We were glad to hear that Rev John Murdoch is now out of hospital and recuperating at home – he hopes to resume duties at St John’s and St Leonard’s in the Fields at the end of January.

Other items shared:

(a)  Jean Hendry said that  Starter Packs continue to be busy and are appreciative of all donations.  Jean is also involved with Perth CAB which is also being kept busy in these difficult times.

(b)  Jenny Dawson reported that  St John the Baptist RC Church has welcomed a new Nigerian priest Fr Jude Mukoro

(c)  Rev Maudeen MacDougall of Scone and St Martin’s  has raised £1600  through a sponsored weight loss and has published a  Lockdown Recipe book, now available for sale, cost £7.50.

(d)  Members of the Shawl ministry have been very busy over lockdown – 10 black bags full of knitting were delivered to the Blythswood collection, and donations have also been made to the Salvation Army, CATH, and others.  They are also working with  Rev Anne Stott and the latest initiative at Bertha Park.

(e)  we heard more about the Bertha Park Project – retail premises have been bought by the Church of Scotland which will serve as a much needed community space;  more can be seen at this link:

We were impressed to hear that Rev Anne Stott has delivered over 200 Advent calendars in the Bertha Park community

(f)  Rev Sarah Lawson reported that the Harbour Counselling service has  kept going all through lockdown, and the need for its work is great.  It can be difficult when clients can’t meet face to face.  She reminded us of the appeal for more Board members  which had recently been circulated.  She also spoke about Workplace Chaplaincy, and their aim to be more proactive in the town, especially with the challenges being faced by the retail sector at the moment.

(g)  “Compassionate Christmas”, being spearheaded by Giraffe and supported by local organisations and churches, aims to feed 500 people over Christmas.  St Matthew’s hopes to support this with a retiring collection after Communion in December.   More details about the initiative can be found here:

(h)  The Bield sadly has had to close again because of the current Covid  situation, but they hope to re-open mid-January.   The small-holding however has kept going!

(i)  Letham St Mark’s Community Cafe – renamed LSM Connections – is now open three days a week,  (Tues., Wed and Thurs) and is being well-used.

(j) The Salvation Army thanks all the churches who have donated to their Toy Appeal;  the donations will be distributed to those referred by the Social Work department.   The Salvation Army will be shortly re-advertising for a Community Manager –  their advert will be circulated in due course. 

(k)  We welcomed Lis Burke who is now working at St Ninian’s Cathedral, where services have resumed.  During Advent they are making use of their website and Facebook with daily prayers and an Advent challenge.

(l)  Fraser  Hunter told us about Skinnergate, which thankfully has escaped any Covid outbreak over the last 9 months.  They are hopeful they can provide Christmas dinner this year – probably in three sittings to abide by the Covid rules. He was sad to report the death, after a long illness, of one of their long-serving staff members.

(m)  Stella Cranwell, on behalf of the Prison Chaplain (Rev Margaret Shuttleworth) thanked those who had contributed toiletries for the prisoners – any further donations will be gratefully received by Stella.  (Margaret has been added to our Corresponding members list, and would have joined us last night but had a previous Zoom engagement!)

(n)  Wilma Coleman reported that the City Centre drop in centre based in the Giraffe cafe at Mill Street on Mondays and Thursday has on average 12 – 20 visitors each session, many of whom are regulars who value the chance to chat .  They also come for food – there are many hungry people in Perth.  The North Church volunteers are also involved with this enterprise.

(o)  The North Church are hoping to have messages of hope and faith pinned to thier railings in Mill Street during Advent, there for anyone who wishes to pick one up and take home.

With warm best wishes for a meaningful Advent and a blessed Christmas when it comes.

Rev. J. Bruce Thomson

With sadness I have to report the loss of Bruce Thomson, formerly minister at Scone: Old. Bruce died peacefully in Perth on Friday morning, 27th November.

A funeral service will take place in Scone on Tuesday 8th December, and then thereafter to Perth Crematorium.

Regards,

Rev Alex M Millar
Clerk to the Presbytery of Perth

Harbour Counselling Service – volunteers sought

Founded in 2005, Harbour Counselling Service is an independent Scottish charity with a Christian ethos, offering free counselling to people in Perth and the surrounding area.

In view of impending retirements from our Board we seek seasoned and insightful persons to help shape and deliver a successful future for a highly energetic and reputable small local charity.  These are voluntary roles offering a unique opportunity to make a positive impact within our community.  At a time of acute focus on mental health and continuing pressure on the NHS to respond, the work of Harbour makes a real difference in people’s lives. 

Ideally we are seeking a Board Chair, a Treasurer [who may or may not be a Board member] and a further member of the Board.  The current Board comprises six members, two of whom will be stepping down in the months ahead.

Since “lockdown” in March 2020 and the suspension of face-to-face counselling our service has shown outstanding resilience and fortitude in meeting the needs of clients by a mix of video and telephone counselling.

A measured re-opening plan is in place to offer a “blended approach” in the months ahead and this sits within our overall strategic plan drawn up by the Board in April 2020 for the next three years.

Although each of the above roles is specific in itself, the current board has identified the following generic skills and experience as desirable criteria:

  • Corporate governance preferably within the voluntary sector, and/or
  • Service delivery preferably within a mental health operating environment, and/or
  • Demonstrable knowledge of legal matters, or finance, or strategic planning, or faith based projects

The Board usually meets monthly and other occasional commitments can include  networking, representation, fundraising and recruitment.

Please view our website, www.harbourperth.org.uk and if these voluntary service roles are of interest, email our Chair, alan@harbourperth.org.uk or call him on 07713182800 for an informal discussion in the first instance.

November 2020

Donations of toiletries requested to help prisoners

The new chaplain at Perth Prison, Rev Margaret Shuttleworth, tells PACT that she is desperately short of toiletries for prisoners who arrive with nothing. 

Could church members please consider donating items like shower gel, toothpaste and deoderants? 

Such donations must be in plastic bottles and sprays are not acceptable.  If you can help or wish to donate.

Contact details –

Wilma Coleman:  01738 449028

Jean Hendry  01738  623603

Moira Laing   01738 634588

Mary Wright   01738 635881

Stella Cranwell    01738 636842

The Bield     01738  583238

Prayer Shawl ministry

Perth’s Prayer Shawl ministry continues, and there are a number of shawls available, which they are keen to distribute. If any church knows of someone who would appreciate a shawl, please contact either Moira  or Mary Wright – the shawls have been kept safely and have been quarantined!

Starter Packs works through the pandemic to support people trying to set up a new home

Starter Packs is still open and responding to referrals;  donations of household goods (excluding furniture)  can be handed in to their unit (22) at Friarton on a Wednesday morning from 10 – 12 noon; donations will be quarantined then sorted by the volunteers on a Friday morning. PACT link person, Jean Hendry, specifically asks that donations are not handed in on a Friday, to avoid confusion.

Perth City Centre Community Hub

Perth City Centre Community Hub has been set up in Perth city centre to help tackle food poverty. It is run as partnership for groups already offering support in the city, including Giraffe, North Church, the Salvation Army, Perth Street Pastors, Perth City Centre Community Hub, Letham4All, TullochNet, and Perth and Kinross Council.

The base also direct beneficiaries to other support networks within the voluntary and statutory sectors.

Sally Bonnar, who helped create the new initiative, said the idea was born out of work they were doing to help those in need during the current pandemic.

She said: “We were originally just doing shopping and prescriptions and support but we realised that there was a lot of people in the city centre in food poverty at the moment.

“This is for people that don’t meet the foodbank criteria but are struggling for food food for themselves or for their families.

“Because a lot of the agencies are closed people can come here. It’s a response to the struggles people are having as lockdown goes on.”

The Mill Street hub follows similar ventures set up by community groups, including Letham4All, to help tackle growing food poverty issues within the area.

Last year a child food poverty study revealed that one in eight households in Perth and Kinross are classified as being amongst the most socially and financially challenged in the UK.

Perth City Centre was the worst affected area for child poverty within the local authority’s boundary, with 25% of children suffering as a result.

The Fairer Futures: Tackling Child Poverty Action Report showed that 4,000 children within the council area were living below the breadline, a number which could rise in the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Mill Street hub is operating from the Giraffe premises will be open from 10.30am until 1.30pm on Mondays and Thursdays in the first instance.