The Annual Planning Meeting took place on Sunday, 20th September 2020 and the Chairman's Report can be found is as follows:
At the start of 2020, it looked as if it was going to be business as usual for WPoF. We began, positively with our Trustees Winter Meal on the 5th January at the Turkish Kitchen and looking forward to the coming year with no idea of the chaos to come.
By the 25th January, the Coronavirus has taken severe hold in Wuhan, China and the Foreign Office advised UK citizens not to travel to the province of Hubei. By the 31st January, the first 2 cases were reported in the UK and my wife suggested we postpone our intended short break to Italy in mid-Feb ... just in case.;
WPoF carried on its work with a lovely event, 'Who do we think we are?' on the 1st February 2020, finding out about people's life journey to Woking and over the following 6 weeks, there were planning meetings for the Annual Refugee Week Event in June; the Football Tournament - which was scheduled for the same month - the pitches were booked and teams were being invited; discussions were underway about our involvement in Woking's Party in the Park in July and the Last Post ceremony at Brookwood in August. Meanwhile we were getting the International Day of Peace competition up and running, ready for the annual prizegiving event in the centre of Woking in September, and we were hoping to have a visit to Cambridge Mosque in early October.
...AND of course, Byfleet Walking Pilgrimage was in its final stages of preparation for the 21st March 2020 - ready to rumble!
In those same 6 weeks the worldwide situation worsened considerably. At the same time, in the UK, the number of COVID-19 infections had jumped from 2 in late January, to 1140 in mid-March and the death toll had risen from its first confirmed on the 5th March 2020, to 21 on the 15th March 2020. The government had put forward a variety of plans to cope with the epidemic, while locally, some places of worship had already stopped serving refreshments in their places of worship.
After much heart-searching, in order to ensure we kept the participants safe, on the 15th March 2020 we cancelled the Walking Pilgrimage in Byfleet.
Soon after, the government closed all schools and by the 23rd March 2020, the country was on complete lockdown, with only frontline health workers and teachers of key workers allowed to go to work; for the majority, daily exercise and essential shopping were the only things allowed to get them outside.
From 18th March 2020, WBC cancelled ALL public meetings until 8th November 2020, meaning that we could no longer have any of our meetings for the next 8 months! So, the Horsell Common Preservation Society event, Refugee Week, the Football Tournament, Party in the Park, The Last Post and IDOP were all COVID-19 lockdown victims!
We also had to cancel our face-to-face Trustees Meeting on the 21st April 2020 and prepared to have email discussions instead.
Happily, fantastic Rev Phil Simpson came forward with his knowledge of Zoom and from mid-April, got us all up and running online, meeting from our own homes! Thank you, Phil!
For the last 5 months, WPoF, has been extremely busy. The Trustees have met twice, the Officers have had several meetings and the Events Committee are currently meeting every month to keep up with the potential changes in the COVID-19 rules, to keep the format of our events up-to-date - working parties are meeting to organise the specific events that are on our calendar. The website is being updated regularly and we now have a 'Thought for the Week' section.
WPoF had our first online event: the Prayer Vigil on the 25th June 2020. Since then we have also had regular online ladies coffee mornings and the first face-to-face, socially distanced (and very successful) event - the interfaith Cricket Tournament on the 12th September 2020! And, coming on the 26th September 2020, the HCPS event to preserve the Common will go ahead using the Rule of 6!
In preparation, with a practice run already out of the way, is the online cooking show, where we will be guided into preparing a cultural dish in our very own kitchens.
In the final stages of preparation is the Doing God Together event on the 12th November (online) which will involve speakers from 5 faiths on a very appropriate topic and, with enough focused publicity, we hope that this very exciting event will have a very large audience - potentially much larger than we could have had in person.
And so, currently, with a 2nd wave of infections spreading rapidly, none of us can say for sure exactly what the future will bring and the precise nature of the continued upheavals to society due to COVID-19. However, I am confident that we CAN say that WPoF will continue its work in whatever form it can, in order to fulfil its aims for the people of Woking and its environs.
Simon Trick, Chair, Woking People of Faith
Date: Sunday 20th September 2020