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Vibrancy in Meetings Programme

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.

Local Development Workers

The Local Development Workers team start in September 2016. They will be based 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

What is a local development worker?

Local development workers will be placed in or near Quaker Meetings in different parts of Britain, getting to know the Meetings and understand the issues affecting them. The local workers will be a two-way conduit for communication and support between Friends, Meetings and the wider work of Quakers in Britain. The workers will encourage and inform the initiative, aiming to facilitate and sustain action by others, locally and across the Yearly Meeting.

They won't be able to solve every problem - but they will spend time with Meetings, be alongside them, offer possibilities, share good ideas and best practice, support developments and new initiatives, and put them in touch with help from other Meetings, groups and staff of Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke.

Their focus will depend on the Meeting, but might include thinking about how Meetings 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.

Who else is involved?

Rachel Matthews is the Programme Co-ordinator. She is based at her home in Carmarthenshire, but works closely with colleagues in Woodbrooke and Britain Yearly Meeting. Her role is to manage the team, and to develop and promote the programme, within and beyond the localities.

The Steering Group met for the first time in March 2016. The members are drawn from across Britain Yearly Meeting. The group bring together both experience and enthusiasm to support and guide this programme and have described themselves as “providing guidance, acting as a keel to keep the ship stable and on course”.

The programme is a joint initiative between Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre and Britain Yearly Meeting.

Why has this programme been set up?

Woodbrooke and Britain Yearly Meeting provide a wide range of support and nurture to help Friends and Meetings. However, we know that for many, Friends House can seem distant and irrelevant; and not everyone can travel to visit Woodbrooke. In 2013 and 2014 we employed a development worker, Lizzie Rosewood. After listening to many Quakers around Britain, one clear thing emerged - an interest in a 'local worker' scheme. This idea has been developed and tested carefully. Now, we have secured funding to pilot it, to find out how it will help Quaker meetings find the support they need and want from Britain Yearly Meeting, Woodbrooke, other Quaker groups and each other.

It is important to remember this is a pilot which is planned to last for 3½ years (to September 2019). We will evaluate and share what we learn, so that everyone can understand whether this is the right way to help Quakers feel more connected to each other, to Woodbrooke and to those working for Britain Yearly Meeting. As part of that, we will consider whether it is the right thing to have local development workers in other parts of Britain.

Who's paying?

The pilot phase is being funded by legacies to Britain Yearly Meeting, and supported by Woodbrooke's resources and facilities. 

How can I be involved?

Could you use your experience and enthusiasm to be a champion - helping us to explore and share ideas and news about this work? If so, please contact Rachel Matthews using the details given below.

Are you interested in helping to make your meeting more vibrant? – Then please get in touch. Your meeting might fall inside one of the pilot areas, in which case we will let your vibrancy local worker know that you’re interested, once he or she is in role. If your meeting is not in one of the pilot areas, we’d still like to hear from you and will do what we can to help.

I'm interested - who shall I talk to?

Please contact us:
Rachel Matthews, Programme Co-ordinator
07419 991 638  (I’ll phone you back if you would prefer not to call a mobile)