In Memory

Chris Pape Memorial Fund

Deceased: 06 Mar 2022

Chris and Samuel Milligan started working together 25 years ago as part of Wokingham Borough's detached youth team. Chris facilitated all the meetings on behalf of the borough; she was well known and respected across the borough but especially in Wokingham, with her recognisable flowery Doc Martens.

Later Chris headed up the detached work in Wokingham on behalf of JAC, different teams had their own unique ways of engaging young people and Chris' was her "Jesus stickers" which were highly saught after, even with young men coming back from army camp, who Chris would have known from years ago, asking for the stickers. They were such a success in Wokingham that other JAC teams tried to emulate the process in other regions, but there was only one Chris Pape, and it didn't work as well for anyone else - maybe it wasn't about the stickers really. By the time Chris firmly retired from walking the streets, she was engaging the third generation of some families - partly due to her repeatedly coming out of retirement to assist the current iterations of the teams.

Chris and Sam also ran summer diversion schemes on behalf of the borough taking the JAC youth programme out into communities from Finchampstead to Charvill and Rainbow Park - it was always interesting working with Chris. 

As new opportunities opened up for JAC Chris naturally gravitated towards the shop and engage young people through the market stall.

Chris was the founder of the JAC Pad back in 2011.  A place for neurodivergent young people to spend time to expand their confidence and work skills but more importantly a place for them to feel safe and welcome.

On a Tuesday and Thursday Chris ran the JAC market stall where young people would help to set up, pack down and serve customers.  The stall worked on a pick your own price basis as it made it easier for the young people not having to add up or give change.

In 2015 Chris opened the first JAC shop on Peach Street.  It was a partnership between the JAC charity and Christian Action Aid.  Again Chris insisted on operating on a ‘pick your own price’ basis.  They were not making a lot of money but had a huge backlog of stock.  Pick your own price solved both of these problems as well as helping families on a low income.

The original JAC shop and JAC Pad closed down when the premises were demolished as a result of the regeneration of Wokingham town centre.  This did not deter Chris who regularly reminded everyone to pray and trust in God.

In January 2019 Chris opened up the JAC in a Box training hub.  Under Chris’ leadership this shop became a warm and welcoming safe space for young people with additional needs to acquire and practice work skills.  Over a period of 22 months around forty-three young people volunteered in the shop and benefitted from her wise counsel and supportive encouragement.  Chris even wrote her own Certificate in Transferable Workplace Skills which she would work through on a 1-1 basis with the trainees – 8 modules that focused on the basic skills employers are looking for.

The JAC in a Box shop quickly became too small for Chris.  She stretched outside, and Central Walk started to resemble a street market with Chris sitting drinking her vegan coffee and chatting to everyone who walked by, at the same time as giving the young people plenty of direction.

In October 2021, Chris was offered the opportunity of moving the Shop to Denmark Street.  She now had 2200 sq. ft. of potential to fill.  Everything was inside so no need to watch the weather forecast so closely!  She was delighted to now be able to offer even more young people support.  Currently the shop has 36 trainees and 21 volunteers on board.

Chris was a very special lady who was ready to help anyone.  She would remember the names of people including all their extended families, she was always encouraging, positive and supportive and filled with love and happiness.  Most of all Chris cared.  She cared about young people, she cared about the homeless, she cared about the vulnerable.  She will be sadly missed in the Shop but we will endeavour to follow the example she set.

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