Some time ago, due to the number of families on the estate and the make-up of our core team, we discerned that a primary area for us would be to work with parents and young children and offer such services to the community.
It is now becoming clear that the next thing we should do on this estate is a group for new mums to come together, support and encourage each other and learn some new tips about motherhood.
There are a huge number of families with young children on this estate. Often couples move in and are quite happy living here and working elsewhere until the first child arrives, and the new mother realises that she doesn’t have an easy support network nearby. Additionally, the geography of our estate has meant that we are in between different Children’s Centres and SureStart Centres, resulting in a long walk to get to either. Most of the mums I have met are eager for some sort of a group to get out to which is within walking distance of their house.
On a neighbouring estate, another Pioneer minister is running a Talking Point group out of her home. This is simply a time and place that new mums can meet over coffee and cake with a Health Visitor present, so they can talk about their own experiences and have their questions answered. In her group, the relationships formed have developed into a couple of the mums coming to faith.
However, due to the shortage of health visitors, it is unlikely that we will be able to have one present every week, so we are thinking of a more structures approach to our group. There will still be good coffee and cake and an opportunity to share experiences, but we also hope to offer advice such as breastfeeding and weaning tips, tot advice, parenting tips, as well as tasters in other baby activities, such as signing, reading to baby, baby massage, song time, etc. We may even have some relaxation tips for the parents. This all depends on whether we are able to bring in people knowledgeable in these areas for a 20 minute slot of demonstration and/or questions each week. I have a meeting with a health visitor and the leader of one of the Children’s Centres in early September to discuss this. Hopefully we can start later in the autumn.
At the moment, these groups are purely to be a benefit and service to the community. There is no direct evangelism going on apart from the everyday sharing of faith that comes through conversation. However, with trust built up and relationships formed, we may be able to run Alpha or something similar with those whom we get to know.