Another Stanborough Park Church member receives prestigious award from local council
When a ball starts rolling it can sometimes end up somewhere unexpected. That is certainly the case with Stanborough Park's Enoch Kanageraj when he set up the Community Chaplaincy Service at the church. His aim of raising the church's profile in the community and establishing and meeting local needs not only got off to a good start but also led to unexpected developments with him being appointed to the Watford Football Club's External Advisory Group, which deals with diversity issues, and receiving a prestigious annual award from Watford Borough Council for his involvement with the community.
As a first attempt to engage with the wider community the Annual Christmas Picture Competition was established enabling local schoolchildren to submit their artwork on a Christmas theme. This competition has proved to be popular with all sections of the community Christian or otherwise, and has just held its fifth prize giving event.
In 2018 Enoch was encouraged by then church minister, Pastor Jacques Venter, to take this a stage further and bring local community groups into the church to explain how they operated and seek support. This led to Community Days being established at the church with representatives from various organisations, including the local women's groups, charities for the homeless, The Red Box Project and the local police, giving presentations and displays.
Around the same time, Enoch's Co-op store where he works became part of the company's Foodshare scheme whereby food past its 'sell by' date and unable to be sold is collected by local charity schemes to feed the needy. One local recipient was Annette Kelly who was running the 'Gokula' cafe in central Watford on a 'pay as much as you can afford' basis with free food for the local homeless population on Mondays. Through her he also came into contact with others helping the local homeless population.
Appreciating that everyone working on their own was doing good work he realised just how much more effectively they could operate if they communicated and shared resources, targeting problem areas together. So he contacted the local groups inviting them to meet at The Stanborough Centre. The response was good and included representatives from the local council and the Mayor, the voluntary services council, the police, Neighbourhood Watch and many charities large and small.
Several meetings later and with the Premiership Watford Football Club on board members of the group, now calling itself 'One Vision', had benefitted from food handling and child protection training at the church. It also took over running the cafe rebranding it as 'One Vision' with the aim of holding workshops and highlighting healthy eating there as well as making it a place to include everyone, especially those less fortunate.
The café's official opening ceremony held on Monday, 25th February, was attended by many of the 'One Vision' group and included people of all faiths and none. It was well-represented by the Adventist church with BUC Health Director, Sharon Platt-McDonald, whose books on healthy eating were on display, giving a talk as well as church pastor, Geert Tapp. The café's owner, a member of the Hare Krishna sect and director of the 'Food For All' project also spoke of his aims for the café'.
February brought with it an invitation for Enoch as Chairman of One Vision to join the Premiership League's External Advisory Group whose members are taken from a large range of minority groups within the area and which advises the club on diversity issues.
It also brought an invitation to attend Watford Borough Council's annual Audentior Awards Ceremony (named after the town's Latin motto). These awards are given to people to have made a contribution to the town's community. To Enoch's surprise he found that he had been awarded the Chairman's Award. The Chairman, Cllr. Rabi Martin, who was present at the ceremony, attended the cafe's official opening ceremony and awarded the prizes at the last Christmas Picture Competition ceremony, so like the Mayor was well aware of Enoch's work as Chairman of 'One Vision'. For Enoch this was totally unexpected and he said, 'The town and myself were very excited for first time in history this award was won by someone from the BAME community.' His award was present by well-respected former Watford FC team member, Luther Blissett.
The event was sponsored by Watford Football Club and held at its premises and included a gala dinner raising funds for Watford Mental Health charities Guideposts and Signpost. A letter from Prime Minister Theresa May was read out giving her support for the event stating how 'both charities help people in their local communities to transform their lives and reach their full potential'
Enoch is not the first Stanborough Park Church member to receive this award; that honour goes to Pat Walton for her work running the church's welfare service. Norma Lewis, the Catholic friend of Pat's whose voluntary role as the church's Welfare Centre Manager spanned two decades was also awarded the same honour for her work for the church. However, he is excited to be the first member of the BAME group to receive the award.
For Enoch, this is just a stage in the ball's travels and he hopes it will continue to roll. He says, 'I am pleased, honoured and humbled to accept this award, I would like to thank everyone who supported to bring One Vision this far.'
Summing up his work in the past year he says, 'At the beginning of 2018, with the instruction of the Pastoral team lead by Pr Jacques Venter, we started a Community Day but God lead me to connect with the community, and in a short time created the One Vision. I have brought the Stanborough Park outreach this far and now every table in the town speaks about One Vision, Stanborough Park Church. I want to thank God and all your support and the Elders of Stanborough Park Church, please be aware that now we have a lot of work to do with our Community to glorify his name.'
By June Coombs