Category Archives: News

Share your story of caring

How do you – or a carer you know – support someone living with dementia? The organisers of National Dementia Carers’ Day – which took place on 10th September – want people to share such stories.


NDCD was ‘a great success’ on social media, the organisers told us. A number of guest bloggers submitted content. Unfortunately, individual stories were small in number. However, NDCD are still interested to hear people’s stories and share them.

As many of us have experienced, caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges. Perhaps you can share what it means to be a carer. National Dementia Carers’ Day (NDCD) say all submissions will be read and may be shared as part of their work.

The day is an annual event, and the hope is that NDCD 2018 will be bigger than ever. The initiative is founded by a coalition of partners – SweetTree Home Care Services, Dementia UK and Alzheimer’s Society.


Quite separately from NDCD, over recent years a number of resources have been produced by various organisations, looking at dementia from a faith perspective. These include:

Dementia: Living In The Memories Of God by John Swinton (William B Eerdmans, 2012);
Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything by Sally Magnusson (Two Roads, 2014);
First Steps To Living With Dementia by Simon Atkins (Lion, 2013);
Creating Church At Home: For Older People Living With Dementia by Patrick Coghlan (Kevin Mayhew, 2016);
Dementia: Pathways To Hope by Louise Morse (Monarch Books, 2015);
Prayers For Dementia by Fay Sampson (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2017).

‘When you’re caring for a loved one with dementia the world can be a very lonely place sometimes,’ said Nicki Bones from SweetTree Home Care Services. ‘Raising awareness is vital if we’re to build dementia-friendly communities.’ For more information and to share your story about living with dementia, visit here.

Make your gnome with us

A president, a dean and a superintendent walked into a room. No, this isn’t the start of a joke. They were among winners of our fun competition that urged people to ‘make your gnome with us’ at the Methodist Conference in Birmingham.


Youth President Elect Michael Pryke, Superintendent of Wolverhampton Circuit Revd David Lavender and Assistant Dean of Nazarene College Revd Louise Kenyon each won a ‘paint your own gnome’ kit at the MMHS stand, which was designed to look like a garden.

The competition title was a play on the Society’s slogan, ‘Make your home with us’. Other winners were Revd Gill Baalham of the North Bedfordshire Circuit and George Dixon-Gough, ONE Programme Development Officer at Cliff College. George brought his team of interns to our stand for his prizegiving (pictured).

The aim was to offer representatives light relief between Conference sessions. Entrants had to use their creativity to ‘gname the gnome’ at the Society’s stand, which was a bright feature in the exhibition hall. But people engaged with our team for more than just a humorous competition.


Other visitors to our stand included – ministers who wanted to discuss their retirement options, Society residents who enquired about repairs and alterations on their existing homes, church members who were keen to offer financial support to MMHS, and others who simply wished to encourage us in our ministry with positive feedback and comment.

One visitor said he had just helped one of our residents move into their new home. The place had been renovated so well, the tenant didn’t recognise it. ‘Well done,’ his friend told us. We also held a fringe event where Society staff and board members shared stories about their work with MMHS and talked about music which had inspired them in their lives.

Scupper the scammers

Scammers who try to swindle pensioners across the UK have started to target Methodist ministers and widowed spouses.

An 86-year-old widow recently reported one such fraudster to the Methodist Ministers’ Pension Scheme. A caller had phoned her, claiming to be from the Methodist Church.


They knew she was receiving a pension, and also offered to help her with her computer. But their target was not an easy one. ‘The call was suspicious,’ she said, ‘and my guard went up straightaway.’

The widow hung up and promptly reported the incident to the pensions team at Methodist Church House. She shared the phone number from where the call originated.

Her quick thinking alerted the pensions team. They responded by checking the number on the web. They found numerous other people had been targets of this scammer.

‘Be aware of and disregard scam calls claiming to be The Methodist Ministers’ Pension Scheme,’ said MMPS Pensions Administrator Tony Pritchard. ‘We wouldn’t ask for any bank account details over the phone.’


There is plenty of advice on the internet on how to deal with scam calls. MMPS and the housing society suggest the following simple guidelines:

– beware of any unexpected or ‘cold’ calls about your pension;

– disbelieve cold calls about transferring any or all of your pension;

– if pensions advice sounds too good to be true, it usually is;

– never give your bank details or personal information to a cold caller;

– should you become suspicious about any such call, hang up and check with the pensions team or housing society at Methodist Church House.

The Pensions Regulator has issued important advice on this issue. Read all about it here. (This article is the full version of a story that appears in the spring 2017 edition of Roof ‘n’ Roots.)

Meena promotes meaning of pensions

meena pic 3 - 1Pensions are big news – so they must be important. That’s the conclusion of the Methodist Church’s new pensions team manager Meena Tooray.

MMHS and Meena’s team assist each other where they can in a spirit of mutual support, as they serve retired ministers. When MMHS spoke to Meena about this article, she was compiling the annual Members’ Report.


‘Pensions is a complex subject,’ said Meena. ‘But our people are quite well educated by us.’

Her team send out various communications through the year. They also make sure their contact details are highlighted on their webpage. In an age of costly consultants – and even more costly scammers – accurate information is vital.

‘It’s about making people aware we are here,’ Meena explained, ‘and there’s no charge for talking to us.’

They keep members informed about changes in legislation. That means they rely on members to keep them informed about changes of address. ‘It’s about maintaining communication,’ Meena explained.

Meena looks after the day-to-day operation of the Church’s pensions, which are paid to ministers and lay employees. That includes co-ordinating trustee meetings, ensuring everything runs according to rules and keeping all data up-to-date.

She has more than 20 years’ experience in pensions. A qualified mathematician, Meena joined the industry when banking and finance were respected.


Meena started work in the 80s with no idea what terms like ‘superannuation’s’ meant. ‘I found it really interesting,’ she said. One of her first jobs was based near St Paul’s Cathedral. Her office window gave Meena a bird’s eye view of Prince Charles’ and Lady Diana’s wedding.

Since then, Meena has worked for such corporate giants as Capita and major charity Family Action. At one point she ran no fewer than 13 schemes. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed it,’ said Meena. ‘You have to enjoy what you do. And it’s been very rewarding.’ (This article is the full version of a story that appears in the spring 2017 edition of Roof ‘n’ Roots)

How to cope with a kitchen refit

sharp kitchen 4 - 1Treat it as a holiday. That’s the secret to coping with a kitchen refurbishment, according to a couple of Society residents.

Revd Chris and Deacon Marian Sharp faced a future with a weary, worn-out 1990s kitchen at their MMHS home in East Anglia. Units were tired, surfaces scuffed and a dishwasher leak left a musty smell.


In addition, a stroke had left Marian disabled. It became difficult for her to make meals with the existing layout. They told the Society about their crumbling kitchen, and found out it was beyond the normal 20-year lifecycle.

‘The Society said they’d help, but we should get an assessment of Marian’s needs,’ said Chris. ‘We’d also have to make a contribution because of our equity share. We were happy with that.’

With guidance from Maintenance Manager Glenn Fry, the Sharps sorted the paperwork, selected a design with kitchen firm Howdens, and chose a contractor. ‘Within six weeks of the initial contact, the fitters were at work,’ said Chris.

The couple set up a makeshift kitchen in their dining area with microwave, kettle and bottled water. They slept at home, but spent afternoons at a nephew’s house nearby. ‘We didn’t find it stressful at all,’ Chris explained.


The refit took just a week, leaving a new kitchen well in time for Christmas. ‘The contractors were brilliant,’ Chris recalled. ‘They bent over backwards to make sure we weren’t without water or electricity for very long.’

What advice can the Sharps offer to those cautious about the upheaval of a kitchen refurb? After all, the kitchen is more than just a place to prepare food. It’s the centre of a home, where family and friends are fed and entertained.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ said Chris. ‘Everyone is very helpful. Make simple alternative arrangements with your microwave and kettle. Go out for a meal or two. Treat it as a holiday.’

Storm Doris had her day

Doris caused such a storm, residents were still phoning the Society five days after the ‘weather bomb’ hit Britain and Ireland. But MMHS householders appear to have escaped the worst of it.

Shattered fences and broken roof tiles were the reasons why residents across the country called or emailed the Society – after gusts of up to 100mph had struck their homes.


‘Storm Doris raged up and down the country on the Thursday,’ said Reactive Repairs Co-ordinator Patricia Berry. ‘The next day, householders phoned us with reports of broken fences, asking for advice on what to do next.’

Most calls were about typical damage. Some people discovered they had ‘party fences’, which is not unusual. In such situations the repair costs are shared by owners of properties on both sides of the fence.

‘Some residents lost a few roof tiles here and there,’ said Patricia, ‘but there were no reports of debris causing injury. Some fences may have been getting old anyway, so this is an ideal opportunity to have them replaced.’

No trees came down on MMHS properties, as far as the Society knows. ‘One resident said they would get help to fix fence panels, so the Society wouldn’t have to pay labour,’ Patricia explained. ‘That was very thoughtful. But the main thing is that householders shouldn’t worry about it. It’s within the Society’s remit to repair any damaged fences or roof tiles.’


Weather incidents happen every year, and MMHS respond accordingly. ‘If damage is bad, call a contractor and take appropriate action to make everything safe,’ said Patricia.

‘Then call the office at the earliest opportunity to report the damage and obtain advice on how to proceed. We want to encourage residents we are here to help. If you’re unsure, always ask.’ (Photo: Clive Price)

How to survive a bathroom refurb

It became a friendly neighbourhood joke to ask Joyce Peacock when would she cut the ribbon to celebrate her brand new bathroom.

That’s because Joyce is so delighted with work on her MMHS home near Bournemouth. ‘It’s been beautifully done,’ she said. Joyce had coped with vintage ablutions in her home for some time. Enough was enough – despite the disruption that replacing the bathroom would cause.


‘I was hesitant because I’m 84 – and it’s a lot of upheaval,’ she said. ‘But I had to do something about it.’ The Society replaced her retro restroom with an electric shower, low-level tray and screen, toilet, sink with vanity unit, tiling, handrails and safety floor. They also added a basin to a WC.

It was a few weeks’ work. But Joyce found the workmen ‘very nice and very respectful to me’, allaying her fears. ‘They did what they could to minimise the mess,’ she added.

Joyce has some advice to give other MMHS residents who may be reluctant about major works. ‘You need to go with it,’ she said, ‘rather than fretting about how long it’s going to take or how much mess it’s going to make.’

She realised there was a pattern to the project. ‘On the first day or two it’s exciting, and everything moves fast,’ said Joyce. ‘Then you get to the next stage, and you think, “Should I have gone for this?” But at the end of the work, it’s nice. You’re pleased with it.’


Joyce encouraged other residents to ‘keep optimistic’ with such refurbishments. ‘For days afterwards, I was going in to the bathroom, looking at it and saying, “Is this really mine?”’

Property Services Director Godfried Addo remembered how Joyce had ‘grave concerns’ about the project. ‘However, she’s now “over the moon” about the resulting improvement and its positive impact on her well being,’ he said.

‘And the property team feel flushed with success!’

Hello and goodbye

board members page 1 - 1Six new members have joined the MMHS Board, as the Society gets ready to meet future demands and opportunities.


Debbie Faulkner, newly appointed as Chair, welcomed the Board members at the Society’s recent Annual General Meeting. Debbie joined the Board in 2009. Her late father Revd Tony Bullock was a resident of the Society, and her mother Shirley remains so today.

The new members are – Alexander Campbell, Paul Haslam, Catherine Hastings, Revd Glynn Lister, Revd Charles New and Revd Alan Taylor.

Ros Peedle became Vice Chair of the Board. Revd Alan Ashton and Revd Richard Teal were re-appointed for a further year. Revd Jacquie Evans was re-appointed for a further three years.


In her Chair’s report for the AGM, Debbie acknowledged the significant contributions of the Board members who had stepped down recently – Mrs Ann Brook, Revd Dr John Harrod and Dr John Lander.

You can read the new Board members’ profiles here.

Follow the adventure trail

joy-murphy-for-website-1A thread of adventure runs through the fabric of Roof ‘n’ Roots – the quarterly newsletter of the Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society.

The Winter 2016 edition – out in time for Christmas – features the moving story of MMHS resident Joy Murphy (pictured). Joy, who lives in a Society property at Aylesbury, helps run a humble charity called Karibuni Children – which supports 14 projects for children in poverty in Kenya.


MMHS resident and former chair of the board Revd Pat Billsborrow has written a reflective piece on a life of adventure. ‘Retirement – or “sitting down” – doesn’t mean waiting for the inevitable end,’ she says. ‘It’s full of opportunities if only we’re prepared to look for them.’

A special round-up article Winter? That’s A Wrap! offers plenty of practical advice not only to make the most of the season but also to take up new interests and projects.

‘I’ve noticed there’s a common thread of adventure and trying out new ideas running through this winter edition of Roof ‘n’ Roots,’ said CEO Mairi Johnstone. ‘We all wrote independently of each other – and came up with these similar themes. Why not ask God for something new in 2017? Let’s stay “fresh and green” for as long as we can.’


The edition also offers some insight into the religious beliefs of George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars saga of films. With the latest of these movies Rogue One now on general release, people are encouraged to look out for any spiritual references to Lucas’ Methodist upbringing.

Roof ‘n’ Roots is sent out to all MMHS residents, but family and friends – and supporting churches – are most welcome to receive a copy, too. Please contact the Society and let us know if you’d like to enjoy this publication on a regular basis.

Keep heat up and bills down

british-gas-engineerEnergy bills can be a big concern. But there are little things you can do to reduce them. Here’s a seven-point checklist for you:

1 Service your heating system – an efficient boiler will save on heating bills. British Gas service boilers for all MMHS residents. You should hear automatically from British Gas. If you haven’t received a service appointment a couple of weeks before your current certificate expires, phone MMHS on 020 7467 5270.

2 Room temperature controls – your thermostat should be set between 18°C and 21°C. By installing thermostatic radiator valves, you can set different temperatures in different rooms. This installation is usually carried out during heating upgrade works by MMHS.

3 Check your radiators – if a radiator is warm at the bottom but cool at the top, that could indicate air in the system. Please let the British Gas engineer know when they service your boiler.

4 Loft insulation – insulating your loft is an effective way to reduce energy waste and lower heating bills. Normally, MMHS properties are insulated. If in doubt, contact your local authority about grants for loft insulation.

5 Letterboxes – check to see if your letterbox is draughty, which can lead to cold hallways and a potential increase in fuel bills. Installing a letterbox draught excluder is an inexpensive and easy DIY job.

6 Windows – energy-efficient glazing keeps your home warmer, allowing less heat to be lost. Double glazing is usually fitted as standard to MMHS properties. If your property lacks double glazing, you may have indicated this in our recent repair and maintenance survey. If you didn’t tell us then, please let us know now.

7 Use curtains to retain heat – it’s important to get as much sunlight into your home during the day as possible. As soon as dusk falls, remember to close curtains to retain heat.

Wrap up your home – as well as your presents – this Christmas!