The purpose of the pilot programme has been to explore whether having locally-based staff can help meetings to thrive as communities with a vital Quaker ministry, becoming stronger, more connected, more confident, more engaged, and more sustainable.
Helen Oldridge is our Local Development Worker for Wales and the Southern Marches. Helen introduces herself as follows:
“I have attended Cardiff Quaker meeting for 20 years. Over this time I have been involved with Children’s Work, a fundraising project for QPSW, editing the South Wales Quaker Newsletter, the Pastoral Care team, the End of Life Matters group and Nominations.
I am passionate about strengthening relationships by sharing our stories; and finding out what nourishes us spiritually so that we can do more of it. These are things that I believe will help us to build more vibrant meetings and communities. I love the Welsh word for Vibrancy “Bywiogrwydd” which sounds so full of life and spirit!
Helen started work September 2016 and hopes to get out and about to different meetings and events so that she gets to know her area, and so that local meetings can get to know her.
Vibrancy in Meetings is not a “new thing” which meetings have to subscribe to; it’s part of the support and information structure to help meetings do what they already do, or develop in the ways they wish to develop.
The programme will inform Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke, as well as the wider community, helping them to shape their work in supporting local meetings.
The Vibrancy in Meetings Programme is responsive – the team will respond to requests from local meetings, and work with them in a planned way.
Vibrancy in Meetings
Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke trustees have made a decision based on the evaluation of our Vibrancy in Meetings Programme. The programme is a success and that was down to you, because of you and your meetings being willing to work with us. It’s through the interesting things that you have decided to do, your willingness to experiment, and to open your meetings to the programme, that this way forward has been discerned. We want to say that it has been a personal privilege to work in the Spirit with you all. I thank you for your trust with time, thoughts and concerns. Sandra Berry, Director of Woodbrooke, and Paul Parker, the Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain, have shared the following:
“The Trustees of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre and Britain Yearly Meeting spent time together talking, listening and in worship. Together they took a decision to reshape the way the two bodies work together, with the aim of improving the ways we serve the needs of Quaker communities across Britain. First, they decided to extend and expand the successful
Vibrancy in Meetings pilot programme. This joint pilot programme experimented with locating paid employees in different areas of Britain to test whether local support better enables Quaker communities to thrive.
After just two years, our evaluation told us that Friends in the Vibrancy areas felt more connected, confident and supported. A third of meetings involved were making changes to increase accessible or reduce demands on role holders. Others reported that the programme was helping bring meetings together as a community. Overall there was a clear message: locally based support helps Quakers not only be Quakers, but enjoy being Quakers. Based on this evidence trustees decided that within five years we should aim to have a local development worker in reach of each meeting.
The two Trustee bodies also agreed to experiment with hubs or clusters of support based outside London and Birmingham, moving the work closer to Friends. We’ll still need Friends House, and Woodbrooke has a programme of learning wider than support for meetings, but we can see many opportunities in thinking more flexibly. Our aim is to build better connections between local Quaker communities and the work being done for and on behalf of the yearly meeting. We hope to become more relevant to Quakers in all parts of Britain; to strengthen local resilience and reduce our carbon footprint.”
This means that not only is the work going to continue but that you have helped to show that we, as a yearly meeting, can move towards offering this to everyone over the next few years.
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The first few weeks as the Local Development Worker for Wales and Southern Marches.
September 2016 we started at Woodbrooke, a very fitting place as the initiative began with Woodbrooke and Friends House wanting to find a way of working together more closely, and we started with a gathered period of Worship, also very fitting for a Programme that is based on a vision of Spiritual, Pastoral and Practical support. We met key members of the Woodbrooke staff and heard about some of the historic aims of Woodbrooke, and how these are continuing today as part of the current Woodbrooke Strategy in the “Fostering of a vital Friends’ Ministry” through providing learning opportunities for Quakers to grow as individuals and as a community.
We then had a number of inductions at Friends House and discovered more about Vibrancy in Meetings from Paul Parker, along with his passion for seeing the Society of Friends thrive. The Programme itself comes under the Recording Clerk’s Office. I was struck by the enthusiastic welcome we all received as we were introduced to each new member of staff across all departments. I realised that they see us as the connecting point or “two way conduit” between Friends House/ Woodbrooke, and Local Meetings.
I have been touched as well by the kindness and support from Area Meetings who have started welcoming me and inviting me to attend events. As we get to know each other better I look forward to becoming a familiar face that walks alongside your Local Meetings as you follow a path of celebrating, exploring, developing, learning, sharing, struggling and thriving in the Quaker Way.
The Vibrancy Programme is seeking to tap into what is already available by working with Local Meetings to narrow down and focus on the existing resources and opportunities that will best serve and support the current needs of that Meeting.
|Vibrancy in Meetings Local Development Worker
Wales and Southern Marches
Mobile no: 07422 972 990
Mae'r swydd hon ar gael yn Welsh hefyd