The Comfort Trust
Serving and Supporting Families in
East Oxford since 2005
Magdalen Road Church has always wanted to be at the heart of the community, to love and serve those around them, and to dedicate time and resources to supporting local families. Rather than being just a place of worship, the Church has strived to be a place where the whole community can feel welcome and served. Nearly 10 years ago, our previous pastor, Peter Comont, and church member Nicola Carpenter started to think and pray about launching a Toddlers group, given the number of young families in the community, and a growing need to provide a space of encouragement, support, and play for both parents and children.
Nicola was keen to dedicate her working week to preparing and running these sessions, but the church had no resources to pay her. The Comfort Trust charity was initially created specifically to pay and support Nicola to run these sessions. The Trust took its name from Mr. B Comfort, a leading figure at the Magdalen Road Mission Hall during the 1870s, who built a workmen’s hall on the site of current church building and appointed the first full-time pastor, Mr. Trotman. Since the charitable Trust was being established to care for the local community, and to provide a source of nurture and companionship for local families, the name felt like a perfect fit! Karen Avery, who still attends the Church, was also a founding trustee and was fundamental to the establishment of the Trust.
Funding initially came from the local council via the Network Funding Trust, which was a wonderful win-win scenario – the council was directly investing in the support of young families, parents and carers, and Nicola, supported by a raft of volunteers from the Church, was able to harness those resources to support the local community. A wider vision and aim of the Trust was specifically to serve and support more vulnerable families in East Oxford (over and above those with young families). Funding wasn’t available at the right time in order to move these projects further, but this is something we actively want to pursue in 2015 and beyond. Obtaining the Irving Building would allow us more room, resources, and facilities to further this vision, and enable us to further support those in need in our community,
Within the first couple of years almost 400 families had used the Comfort Trust sessions – Sunflowers, Buttercups, and First Saturday. The Comfort Trust has continued to run and run, and remains hugely valued by local people, both young and old – almost every time any of our Church members talk to local families, they will have used (or know about) these sessions as a time of relaxation, comfort, support, and play. We are often full to capacity during a number of these sessions, and using the additional space in the Irving Building would allow us to continue to open our doors to more and more families!
The Comfort Trust is a central part in the life of Magdalen Road Church, and is absolutely crucial in developing our core remit to open our doors to love and serve those around us. It’s been a fundamental part of our development and relationship with the local community. We would love to see The Comfort Trust continue to be a charity and structure whereby we can increasingly serve the community, particularly those in vulnerable or marginalized positions. This is something we are actively looking into at the moment, in terms of finding where we can best place our funds, time, and resources – and the Irving Building would be a fantastic location to put these plans into practice.
Church members Mary Guest, Ruth Currie, Gwyneth Leaver, Daniel Blanche and Fraser Hutchinson form the current Trustee Board, and there’s a large and committed band of volunteers, too numerous to mention, who are always ready with toys, cakes and cuppas to help make your week that little bit easier!
The Comfort Trust is a registered charity (1116495
) set up by Magdalen Road Church.