Well Updates

Partnership and Communication Worker

penny-sarahA few weeks ago I got a message from a friend that I’ve known for many years.  Sarah enquired about The Well and how things were going.  She has a marketing background, and as we talked the idea of Sarah working alongside Penny became a possibility which then became a reality two weeks later!

We’re delighted that Sarah has joined our team – 7 hours a week.  She brings additional expertise and enthusiasm to team, and we are thrilled that she wants to use her God given gifts and be a part of what He is doing in and through The Well.

Sarah has come in on Monday evenings, so she can experience first hand the work that goes on here.  She was thrilled on her first Monday to be able to tell one of our service users that he was due a tax rebate of over £200! Nice way to start:)

Sarah spent part of her childhood in Thailand, where her parents were missionaries & she brings an understanding of cross-cultural relationships with her.  She is married with two young children.

Every so often I have reason to reflect on the great bunch of volunteers we have here – this morning Joyce popped in.  I said “Are you Jaan today?”  She said “No, I’m just dropping this file in.”  She had taken someone’s file away to put together a summary of his case for him to take to his MP.  The summary has run to 5 pages of bullet points!  It must have taken her hours and I’ve no doubt that Mr Waheed will be be very grateful.  I know that several of our volunteers have done such things for people in the past, regularly going the second mile – determined to follow up and do their best for folks.  Well done team!



“I’ve got you . . .”

Last week I received a phone call, I instantly knew the voice, but I couldn’t name the person. She asked if she could come into see us, she needed some advice.  I asked what sort of advice, and she said “Personal”.  I told her our opening times, and suggested she ask for me – Rhoda.  She said “Oh Rhoda, thank God you are still there, you helped me 12 years ago!”

When she did  get in to see me we had a lot of catching up to do, her family has grown, her faith is much more important to her, she’s been busy!

She listed the huge support network that others have, and then in the next breath said “and I’ve got you”!  I laughed – not sure whether I’d just been complimented or insulted! She realised how it sounded, and immediately reassured me that it was a compliment, and having The Well was the best support possible!

But isn’t it great?! That after 12 years she knew where to turn to get help. That because we are still here she could say “I’ve got you” and know it to be true.


Everything changes . . . everything stays the same

The Well is always changing and adapting to the needs and challenges of our service users.  We’ve seen a change in the demographics of Govanhill, and this has been reflected in the folks who come to The Well.  When I first started as a volunteeGovanhill Collager back in 1998(!) the majority of our service users came from Pakistan – about 85%!  As Mary says now “the whole world is here.”

Up until early this year we had a growing number of Roma service users, but since I came back from my sabbatical, I’ve noticed a marked decline in the number of Roma using The Well.  Many have moved either to other parts of the UK (Doncaster!) or back to Slovakia.  Last week one of our regulars was telling me that he and his family are moving back – having known them for  more than10 years, I felt sad – but glad to know that we had made a difference to them, and they were keen to come and say goodbye.

In the early days of The Well we could keep a range of beneimagesfit forms in stock in The Well, now much of our work is done online and we no longer even keep forms, indeed we regularly have to ask people to go the library to have the form printed off. (91 pages for an EEA form, 4 times a day would be way beyond our printing budget!)

We still operate a drop in service, but are now piloting restricting visits to 1 hour (where possible) both for the sake of the other service users, and for the well being of the volunteer staff.

We’re still really busy! 4 people working on advice this morning and there’s a queue of 8 people!

We’re still supporting some very vulnerable people, a young single dad who has found the whole system of claiming child benefit and child tax credits quite overwhelming; a young woman with many physical, mental and emotional difficulties who on finding The Well, said she had found “Angels.”  Last week it was wonderful that a woman we had supported for at least 15 years, came back to visit us. (She lives quite far from The Well now)

We’re still dependent on individuals and churches supporting us – we have applied to various charitable trusts, but the core of our support comes from dedicated individuals & churches. Maybe you would like to support The Well, but you’ve never been in a position to do so? Well now if you shop online, then it is possible to support imagesThe Well through Give as you live. Simply register with Give as you live, nominate The Well as your chosen charity, and then go shopping from there.  You’ll see we can profit anything from 1% of your total shop.

Of course Give Net is another option to give directly to The Well!

Most importantly of all we know that the same God who was in our beginnings, is with us still and He doesn’t change.    “For I, the Lord, do not change.”  Malachi 3:6


In and Out of The Well

The other day Mrs Ahmed was in The Well (almost a daily occurrence!) She was in very good form – which we were all very pleased to see – for a few months, she seemed to be carrying extra burdens, which now seem to be lifted.

Ms Benocova came in – she’s been coming regularly for several years now, each of the staff got a hug from her, and then she turned and hugged Mrs Ahmed! I was so chuffed! A Pakistani and Slovakian woman giving each other a hug.  If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I’m not sure I would have believed it.  It really was a very special moment, and all the years of working at building relationships not just between the staff and our service users, but trying to provide an environment where those from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures could get to know each other was finally paying off!

At our prayer time this morning  Sarah prayed for an Afghan man that she had helped last week, and Vivien mentioned “last week when I took Mrs Ahktar home . . .”  I was reminded of the privilege that is ours to pray for by name people from all over the world. Dougie went further and said he loved being able to call people from so many parts of the world “friend”.    It also made me grateful for the volunteer staff that give so much to The Well, and its service users.  Not just the shifts they do, but regularly going the second mile for their new friends. Volunteer staff who give people lifts, or make home visits, or follow up with phone calls, or email me to ask about how someone is.

As ever we are looking for more people to join our Volunteer Staff team. Would you consider it? Sometimes when people first start, they feel a bit daunted – but with support and training they quickly realise that being in The Well gives them back so much more than they could ever imagine. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.

I really admire Gail for being willing to give the fundraising role a go, but Gail found that filling in application forms was just not for her – we’re delighted that we will continue to benefit from Gail’s commitment and many talents as she continues on the volunteer staff team.

We are now looking at building a team of people to do the fundraising – both grant applications, followup and other fundraising activities.  Maybe this is a way you could help us?

I’m in the process of registering The Well with “Give as you live” – I’ll let you know as soon as it’s live, an easy to support The Well if you do online shopping.



Chai & Chat

The Well Craft Group has been a fixture for many a year.  This group for women only – sorry guys – has seen us have much fun together, as well as produce some lovely items for both personal use and selling over the years. Some women come to use the sewing machineswhile others prefer to learn some new craft activity.  I felt very honoured to help one friend as she made clothes for herself and her family who were going on Hajj one year!!

Last month we decided to make a little bit of a change – and to rename the group  Chai & Chat.  ‘Chai’ is tea as far as our  South Asian, some Middle Eastern and our Slovak friends are concerned and is a seriously important component to socialising and relationship building. We are told regularly  it’s the chance to get to know women from different parts of the world and different faith backgrounds that make this get together on a Tuesday afternoons (1-2.45pm) so enjoyable.

The group is open to any woman, from any background. We nearly always have cake  🙂 and a craft activity of some sort to enjoy together. Please join us!

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Stonelaw Church Coffee Morning 7th May – An Invitation

We are delighted that the National Mission Team at Stonelaw Church (stonelawchurch.org) are hosting a Coffee Morning  in support of The Well this coming Saturday 7th May.  We’re looking forward to meeting some old friends – as well as making some  new ones!! This is a great opportunity to catch up on the latest from The Well and meet some of the team who will be there on the morning!

Where: Stonelaw Church,  2 Dryburgh Avenue,  Rutherglen,               G73 3EG

When: Saturday 7th May 2016, 10.30am-12.30pm


Two are better than one

I’m sitting here feeling quite chuffed with myself because I have actually manged to access this blog page without having to ask anyone for help!!

However, at least part of the reason I am sitting here typing away this particular afternoon is that I know  my colleague, Gail is around and I can ask  her for help if I need it. (She’s clever with IT, computers and stuff like that!!)

Throughout today well over 30 other individuals have come into The Well knowing that help and support is available for them too.

There’s the woman who is  looking for her own place to stay now that a firm job offer has been made. She makes good use of the   computer suite as she would not be able to access the internet easily otherwise. She accepts a cup of tea happily when offered, and then gets back to work on the computer.

A family want to clarify a couple of things on a form they need to complete. It’s a large document and lots of jargon needs to be deciphered. Their limited English means they are finding it a struggle. We are able to phone someone we know who can translate for us which makes all the difference.

Yesterday afternoon a few of us got together over some samosa and tea.  We had a useful discussion around how we might develop the women’s Craft Group. ( More about that soon!) Suffice it to say that over the following couple of hours craft activities for the next few weeks had been sorted – thanks Heather and Jan –  and Gail had come up with a beautiful new design for an invitation postcard we will use as invitations  to the group.

It’s great when you know there’s someone or somewhere that you can turn to and find genuine support –  and it’s the commitment of each of the Well team, combined with a diverse range of knowledge, skills and experience that makes so much of what we do on a day to day basis possible.

One of the Wisdom books put it so well:

    Two are better than one,
     because they have a good return for their labour:
      If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.

Hello… See you later . . .

Hello and welcome to Gail.

IMG_1323Gail joined the team in the middle of February both as a volunteer and as our part-time fundraiser.  I’ll let her tell you a wee bit about herself:

“I’ve recently returned to live in the Glasgow area having previously lived in the Scottish Borders. I’ve worked overseas in the past and love cross-cultural contact. I’d already intended to volunteer with The Well (which I do twice a week) and when the vacant post of Fundraiser was made known, I applied. It’s a completely new role for me so I’m trusting God to help me and bless the work I do. My daughter and son-in-law live in Glasgow and I’m enjoying being nearer to them and my 2-year old granddaughter.”

Gail has just completed 5 weeks training on fundraising and is keen to get started in her new job.

Welcome to the team Gail!

See you later . . . 

I have been the manager of The Well for 13½ years. (Surely that can’t be right!) In October last year the Board agreed that I should have a sabbatical this year. This has been arranged and I will finish in The Well on the 16th March and return on the 5th July.  I will go to the Middle East and spend most of the time there.

Whilst I am away Penny will be the acting manager and several of the volunteers have agreed to take on extra responsibilities.


A very special visit

3-ministersWe have been privileged to  have been friends with The Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison – Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, for many years.  We weGroup-1re delighted when he contacted us at Christmas time and said he would love to visit.

So we arranged for him and his wife Marion to visit The Well this morning.  It was special have some of the local Church and Mosque leaders join with us for the visit.

Just before 1Kenny-&-Angus2.00, the door opened and a long time friend of The Well came.  She wanted to share some good news with us and we were all able to rejoice with her that having waited for many years, she and her family could finally call Scotland home.Penny-&-Marion

We went from The Well to the Grace & Flavour Cafe, part of the Queen’s Park Govanhill Parish Church building on Daisy St.



Thank you Angus & Marion for coming to visit, and for the lovely celtic cross you gave us – we look forward to finding the right place for it to hang with pride in the office.

February Update

Sometimes I can hardly believe that it’s a year since The Well faced its toughest challenge to date, and yet here we are at the start of another year, having experienced God’s faithfulness and provision and your encouragement.

My mum has a great expression “God hates waste, and He doesn’t waste anything.” This past year has certainly not been wasted as we have learnt afresh what it means to trust God.

Our financial position is much healthier than it was a year ago, and whilst we will never be flush, at least we can make plans to continue developing the work.

From April this year Penny MacLeod will take over as Depute Manager of The Well, she will continue her role in Bubbles – the Mother & Toddler group, and heading up the Craft group. But for a long time it has been obvious that The Well needs to have a second person to share the load of management.

This change has created a vacancy for a fund raiser, and we are delighted that we have someone who is willing to be trained in this role. Once things are finalized I will give you more information.

I have been the manager of The Well since August 2002, and have seen phenomenal growth in the numbers and diversity of folks using The Well. (Right now behind me, Vivien is speaking to someone in Romanian, there’s a Pilipino women in the reception area, and we’ve already helped Indian, Pakistani, Moroccan, Iranian, Afghanian and Slovakian today!)

We are seeing a change in the demographics of those using The Well, most of our Slovakian service users have moved away, and now we are seeing more Romanians!

We’ve not yet got the final stats for the year, but once again we are looking at around 970 service users across all activities, using The Well and other groups about 7500 times.

We’ve recently welcomed Gail, Elizabeth & Heather to the volunteer team, and our Monday openings will restart this coming Monday. (We spent January doing training, and this Monday had to be cancelled due to the weather.)

I am very grateful that the Board agreed that I should have a Sabbatical this year, and so after my holidays at the end of March, I plan to be on sabbatical from 1st April until 30th June. I am hoping to be able to do some language and cultural study in the Middle East, providing I can get my visa! I would appreciate prayer for that!

EllenIn our last news letter we introduced Ellen. For me it’s been thrilling to see how God has always provided the right person for us. When Margaret Menzies retired we had no idea how we would replace someone who fitted so well into the family here. God gave us Christine! Christine was very different to Margaret and brought a whole different set of skills, but equally fitted into our family very quickly. When Christine was returning to Australia, we once again thought “how are we going to replace Christine?” It’s obvious God has once again been a step ahead of us, and given us Ellen. Ellen is already very much at home here, and making the job her own. It just feels like the family keeps on growing.

Another part of the work which is developing is our Cross Cultural Awareness Training. Here’s some comments from recent courses:

“It’s difficult to get my head around the honour /shame culture and all the implications of that – but it’s been great to have been made more aware.”

“It was powerful how you showed that Jesus balanced perfectly honour and truth. Thanks for that.”

The English Classes are as busy and popular as ever, and once again God has provided great teachers.

We do need someone to help out at our Craft Group on a Tuesday afternoon – maybe you know a woman who would like to be involved in that?

As ever we are very grateful for your prayers and support which make this work possible.