The Vibrancy in Meetings Pilot Programme is doing something new for Quakers in Britain – exploring 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. It is a pilot programme running in four different parts of Britain until December 2019 and has been funded by legacies to Britain Yearly Meeting, and also supported by Woodbrooke’s resources and facilities.
How Vibrancy has made a difference
We spoke to Quakers in the four pilot areas to find out how this approach has made a difference.
Local Development Workers
Four Local Development Workers are working in the following pilot localities:
- Devon, Cornwall and West Somerset – Pip Harris.
- The North West – Wendy Hampton.
- Wales and Southern Marches – Helen Oldridge.
- Sussex, Surrey and Kent – Carrie Comfort.
The focus of each Local Development Worker depends on the needs of the area they are working in, but has included helping meetings to explore how to meet their spiritual, practical and pastoral needs; property and employment; supporting older or younger Quakers; witness in the world; deepening worship, supporting discernment or spiritual development both as individuals and Meetings.
The skills that Local Development Workers have to achieve these aims are varied, but can be broadly broken down into, listening and talking things through, signposting to access services of Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke, facilitating to help questions be explored, accompanying meetings to help them get the support they need and feeding back to BYM and Woodbrooke so they can better understand what meetings and Friends need.
Local Development Workers are supported by a national coordinator, Rachel Matthews and a steering group whose members are drawn from across Britain Yearly Meeting.
What difference is the work making?
The Vibrancy Programme is being independently evaluated by NCVO Charities Evaluation Services which has produced a number of reports at key points in the programme.
The most recent report (March 2019) shows how Local Development Workers are making a difference in their areas. The report goes into detail but some of the top findings include:
- All Friends who took part in the evaluation said the Local Development Workers were approachable.
- 96% of Friends surveyed rated support from their Local Development Worker as “excellent” or “good”.
- Friends highlighted the ability of workers to connect them with other people and meetings; the accessibility of the workers; their personal qualities and skills. They appreciated the workers’ ability to listen to Friends, understand the issues they were facing and provide high-quality support.
- Over half of meetings had made, or were in the process of making, changes as a result of the support received from their Local Development Worker. Examples included work to make meetings more accessible or to reduce the demands on role holders.
The reports below are from NCVO Charites’ Evaluation Services evaluation and have been written at key points over the course of the Vibrancy Programme.
Main Evaluation Report – March 2019
- NCVO CES Vibrancy main evaluation report March 2019 executive summary
- NCVO CES Vibrancy main evaluation report March 2019
Phase 1 & 2 Reports
- Phase 1: Early Findings Report Executive Summary
- Phase 1: Early Findings Report Full Report
- Phase 2: Taking Stock Report
What happens next?
Options for the future of the work beyond the pilot phase are now being considered by BYM and Woodbrooke Trustees in consultation with other groups, including central committees and Meeting for Sufferings. A decision on the future of the programme is expected in summer 2019
For more information contact:
Rachel Matthews, Vibrancy in Meetings National Co-ordinator
07419 991 638 or 020 7663 1039