Ladies' Fellowship February 2015

Thirteen ladies were present including Mrs Muriel Hemingway whom we were pleased to welcome on her first visit.

It was cheque presentation time to one of the two local charities whom we supported in 2014. The recipient was Jo Gately on behalf of Bethany House based in Chickenley Lane, Dewsbury. Jo spoke to us about the formation and function of Bethany House and with the aid of a podcast we heard through interviews how important it is to some of the "guests" there. Afterwards she answered questions and distributed material about Bethany House.

Bethany House was started 14 years ago by Hazel Walker who was a psychotherapist at Fieldhead Hospital, Wakefield. She worked with people who suffered from anxiety, depression and loneliness and she realised that tablets were not enough for them and that there were other ways to help. She started a group in a church hall to help such people. It was run by Christians but people did not have to be Christians to attend. At first it was once a month, then twice a month, then it developed to become three times a week!

Two years ago the group got funding to move into a large, detached house in Chickenley Lane and it is open Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm. Anyone over the age of 18 may visit ( both men and women)  and a variety of programmes or classes are offered such as painting, computers, creative writing, sewing and knitting with three in each class and there is even help to fill in tax forms. There is also holistic therapy with pedicures, massages and nail treatment on offer at times. Sometimes there are trips out. The last one was a day trip to Cannon Hall. Outside there is a greenhouse and a garden to cultivate. From time to time guest speakers are invited. After lunch there is prayer time for half to three quarters of an hour but it is optional. No charge is made for attendance  but there is a £2 charge for lunch.

The group receives funding from various places such as Asda (by customers placing a green token in the Bethany charity box), Kirklees council- although funds are limited, and a few churches such as our own. There are links with the community mental health team. Most of the help is given by volunteers. Jo is the only paid employee. She is a counsellor and counselling is free. However, the facilitators" (those who teach the classes and are retired or work part-time) are given £20 for the whole day.

The aim of Bethany House is to provide a safe, warm, therapeutic, creative environment which is non-judgemental and helps to increase peoples' confidence. The term "guests" is always used. Over 70 guests come during the week, roughly half from the Wakefield area and half from Kirklees. There are open days and Easter, Christmas and summer fares.( I've been to a Christmas one and found the atmosphere lovely).

The house in Chickenley Lane is rented from the Wakefield diocese and a caretaker lives upstairs by agreement with Bethany House and the diocese, but Bethany House does not contribute financially.

Bethany House is a charity and needs funding to continue. Running the house is costly. Many of the guests make their own donations. Jo was extremely pleased to accept a cheque for £950 on their behalf and extended to us all an invitation to pop in whenever we like on the days when they are open. We were all pleased to support this charity which is on our "doorstep" and does such good work. We pray that it will be able to continue.

Elaine Heard. ®
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