Fresh Start

Fresh Start is a ministry which is designed to love and support those parenting alone.  Fresh Start aims to extend Christian comfort and hope to those parenting alone for any reason. 

We aim to give spiritual encouragement and empathy by coming alongside individuals in their isolation as they rebuild their lives towards being in a place of emotional stability and independent living in their faith with Christ.

Fresh Start was founded by Caroline Chalkley, who was a single parent for many years.  In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 it says "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God".  It is Caroline's vision to bless others parenting alone with the same comfort that she received. 

Caroline leads the group with her husband, Clive, along with Yvonne Ellis.  She is aided by a committed and faithful team of caterers (Angel, Arlene and Audrey) and child carers (Jason, Amber, Alison and Charity).

Fresh Start meets every other month on the second Saturday of the month.  It starts at 10.45 am and continues until 1.30 p.m.. Breakfast and childcare are provided.
 

This photo was taken from our recent Fresh Start retreat.  

Below is a testimony from one of the single parents who attended the retreat:

I felt like I was in a good place spiritually and emotionally, however I was worried about becoming stressed and overcome by anxiety. The school summer holidays had only began, like most single parents, I was juggling work, the extra expenses of summer childcare and trying to find time to have fun with my children and actually enjoy being a parent. I lay on my sofa and said something around the lines of “Lord, daddy, I need a break! I’d love to go on a retreat; but I haven’t got anyone to look after Shaun (my 8 year old son)”.  Less than a week later, I was on WhatsApp and a picture popped up in one of the groups I’m in, it was a poster adverting a retreat for single parents. I was sooo excited, thank you Jesus, this is exactly what I was looking for.  I knew straightaway that I wanted to go, but thoughts entered my mind that it would be too good to be true and all the spaces would have been taken.  I was so desperate to attend; I wasted no time in ringing Caroline.  I told Caroline that I saw the ad for the retreat and asked if any spaces were left, there was and I booked up straightaway.  I had no clear idea who the organisers were, only that it was something to do with Care for the Family. I had no idea where Ashburnham was or how I was going to get there.  I also had no Idea of what the teaching was going to be on; all I knew is that I was going; I had something to look forward to. 

It was only when I turned up at Ashburnham, that I realised Fresh Start was part of New Life Bible Church, although on the emails Caroline sent me they did have the New Life Bible Church logo (I was probably just so delighted that I didn’t even pay attention).  By the time the retreat came around I was emotionally and mentally tired with life. I was definitely losing grip of who I was and, more importantly, of who God says I am.  I said to myself “Claudine, I don’t know what you’re here for, but you're going to be open, so you don’t leave without it".

The retreat was amazing, every single talk spoke to me directly. During our times of worship, I was at peace and the Holy Spirit spoke directly to me during these times, reassuring me, comforting me and filling me with His love.  The retreat was only a weekend, but it felt like a week.  The Holy Spirit showed up and showed off.  Jesus didn't waste any time, I felt myself coming back to life again during every session.  My son has also been transformed, I’m not allowed to call my son 'little Shaunie' anymore, he has grown.  By being around boys of a similar age to him, Shaun feels affirmed as a strong boy/child of God. We have both been renewed and are moving forward with what God has for us.

The fellowship was equally amazing, everyone was extremely welcoming. I started off knowing no-one and left knowing I had a new family at Fresh Start.  My son was happy and safe and everyone treated him as though he was their own.

Thank you Fresh Start.