A Baptist minister has been recognised for ‘exceptional community leadership’ during the pandemic

The Revd Claire Nicholls, minister of New Addington Baptist Church, recently received the Paul Harris fellowship award from the Croydon Whitgift Rotary Club. Paul Harris founded Rotary International in 1905.

Since March 2020 Claire has been chairing a meeting of community leaders including people from the council, residents associations and charity organisations. Out of that grew a community partnership, including New Addington Baptist Church, which has worked together to try and make sure no-one fell through the gaps.

In a statement on its website, the Rotary Club explained it had become aware of a network of organisations at work in the area during the pandemic. ‘Each had different capabilities and there were frequent opportunities for clients to be referred on from one to another.’

The committee that Claire chairs meets every month ‘to bring these organisations together, coordinate their activity and maximise the benefits they bring to the community.’

New Addington Baptist Church supports its community in a variety of ways through its Community Family Project, which was established over 20 years ago. Before the pandemic, the church began to support households who were part of the project with food parcels as part of their programme of holistic care, and this work expanded as the effects of Covid-19 hit and the basic needs of vulnerable people in the community came to the fore.

Last year the Rotary Club made a further donation to the Community Family Project to support its newly expanded community café, and in November several of its members visited the cafe and learned how it hosts the Crafty Needles group on Tuesdays and the Poppy Cafe on Wednesdays for those who suffer from poor mental health among other activities.

It was on this occasion Past President Peter Townsend presented the award to Claire for her ‘exceptional Community Leadership initiative’.

Claire with Peter Townsend

In her response to the club, Claire said, ‘I also wanted to express thanks for the presentation you made to me. I'm overwhelmed and it only sunk in really after you all left how much this means.

‘I work in an amazing community with some brilliant people who love the people they walk with every day. It's been a privilege to work with them all.’

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