There are many ways that we put our aims and objects into a practical and tangible form.
Mothers' Union AFIA holidays are a practical and important way to help support family life. Each year the MU nationally offers on average 600 families a holiday through the AFIA holiday scheme.
In Gloucester Diocese a small team of members consider each application for a holiday and discuss the needs of the family or individual. The scheme is open to anyone who is under stress. Each application needs the support of a professional such as a clergyperson, doctor, head teacher or social worker. A typical holiday would be a week in a caravan near the seaside.
AFIA in Gloucestershire also arranges days out for The Haven to Weston-super-Mare, supporting The Churn Project's outing and supporting children on a school trip.
One of the special aspects of the Mothers' Union Parenting Programme is the fun and enjoyable way people are taught facilitation skills through a participatory approach. Mothers' Union has developed and extended the support it was already offering to parents in the parish and wider community with its Parenting Programme, which trains members to lead and facilitate parenting groups. Each parenting group varies enormously. Typically a group consists of six to ten parents and meet for six to eight weeks. They share with one another the joys and challenges of being a parent, learn more about the parent child relationship, and develop friendships and mutually supportive networks.
The trained facilitator helps the parenting group become more cohesive, open and able to talk about experiences and ideas.
Facilitators encourage parents to attend groups by pointing out that everyone can have difficult times and sometimes wonder if they are parenting in the best way. Facilitators are not experts and don't have all the answers. They are there to help the groups work closely together and to give encouragement. Videos, books and leaflets are used as the groups share problems and pleasures and help each other in the hardest job anyone can have.
Parenting courses are held across this diocese with particular success in Churchdown, Cirencester and Lechlade.
Here in the Diocese of Gloucester Mothers' Union currently has a link with HMP Eastwood Park prison.
In addition to a member from the diocese who travels from Cheltenham to visit prisoners, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek also regularly visits the prison and often shares the stories of the women she has met, so please prayerfully consider this ministry and get in touch with the Action and Outreach Unit Coordinator via the Diocese of Gloucester Mothers' Union Office.
Mothers Union members from across the diocese also send greetings via Christmas cards which are distributed by the Prison Chaplain; and many also make 'Cross-in-my-pocket's which are given out at Easter.
A selection of simple and cheap recipes has been produced suitable for use by students and others with limited funds and is distributed through local food banks. This can be downloaded, see Recipes
Members in Gloucestershire provide various knitted items for local children's hospitals, include blankets and clothing. Some members also knit prayer shawls for the elderly. Patterns can be found via the Resources tab at the top of the page.
Mothers' Union is involved in many ways with local communities.
24 branches help in residential homes or day centres
St Catharine - Gloucester's Mothers' Union run a "Knit & Natter" group .
36 branches run or help with Mother and Toddler groups, Children's clubs and pram services
8 branches run or help with Open the Book to take Bible stories into Primary schools.