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People: Jackie Pope @ St. Marks Hall
Interview with Jackie Pope  (2nd November 2010)
Jackie has been described by some who know her as an angel in disguise. She gives her life for the young people of the estate around St. Marks Hall in Rochford.  She is not your average ‘do-gooder’ and the thought of talking about herself often flusters her, but one thing is abundantly clear: she has a big heart for the children and young people of Rochford and she’s there doing stuff for them. One of her biggest worries is whether the finances will continue to allow her to do that.

Rochford Life: Give me a simple rundown of what you do.
Jackie: (Long silent pause that typifies the reticence that Jackie often shows when talking about her activities. Eventually....)  Job wise, it is to lock up and to clean the Hall as the caretaker here.   

RL: But you spend considerably more time down here than just looking after the hall. What do you do in the rest of the time you’re here? Run through the week.
Jackie: I do drama with ‘Extended Schools’, and Alison Perry on a Wednesday night, 6.15 to 7.45. Now it’s starting to get dark they start to come back but we’ve only had about ten kids here until recently. I enjoy that with the children. Thursdays I also do Mini-prints which is part of Footprints. I do one on one week and the other on the next week. The time for Mini-Prints is 5.00 until 6.30 and the age group is supposed to be 6 and up but I take five year olds with the parents’ approval.

RL: Why don’t you start at the beginning of the week?
Jackie: Mondays I just clean the hall. Tuesday is the Teen Cafe which is sponsored by the Rochford Parish Council now, and I run it from 7.45 until 9.00 although some of them turn up earlier.

RL: And the Parish finance this?
Jackie: Yes, but it doesn’t make any sense to me for they seem to charge themselves because they rent the hall and pay the rent. It seems to me it would be simpler if they just didn’t charge anything for these community projects. If someone would only form a trust to run the hall we could take it off the Council’s hands.

RL: OK, what about Wednesdays?
Jackie: I do Minimees on Wednesday morning which is a group of 16 to 25 year olds young parents that meet from 10.00am to 12.00.  We’ll sometimes go as a group to get babies injections to make sure they are being looked after, and sometimes we’ll go out to have lunch in the park together because some of them have horrible lonely lives.  They’ve got their homes and they’ve got their children but they’ve just got nobody to share that life with, so that’s why we sometimes got out to have lunch together, or go and feed the ducks. We passed by St. Luke’s the other day and some of them don’t have grandparents and we’ve wondered if we could adopt an elderly person in St. Luke’s who may also be lonely, to go and visit regularly, but I don’t know how we could do that.

RL: Who are the various organisations that you work with?
Jackie: There’s EYPDAS, the Essex Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Service who come on Tuesday evenings and we’ve had young people come and ask for help to get off their drugs. There’s also the PCT; I work for the NHS and do the condom card now which also involves Chlamydia testing.  Chlamydia has been rife in this area. Rochford Community Church have also supported me, especially Mike Ewers. Maureen Vince of course really helped me to get where I am today. The Parish Council obviously, and the District Council, especially Dave Sergeant, there’s PACT training  - I’ve done all my training with PACT which is run by Mike Ewers. which point our conversation was interrupted by little people calling for Jackie’s attention. I join the group outside and the conversation becomes less formal as I watch Jackie interacting with some of her little flock and I am impressed by her obvious care and concern for them and their acceptance of her. We eventually part with hugs and Jackie still professing her concern for the little people of the area who are so clearly on her heart.....

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