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 including outings to Weston-super-Mare.
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.
In Gloucester Diocese Mothers' Union helps in two prisons:
HMP Eastwood Park -The small group of volunteers from Thornbury Branch continue to visit the Mother & Baby Unit at the Women's Prison. Their visits sometimes consist of attending the Nursery out of working hours to chat with the mothers and other times assisting the Nursery staff in taking the babies out of the Prison on visits.
Mothers' Union members throughout the diocese send Christmas cards to be given to the women in Eastwood park.
Leyhill Prison Visitors' centre - Volunteers are still helping at the Visitors' Centre but there is a need for more help here for the Visitors' Centre Play Area. This is a very valuable service to the families of the prisoners and it would be good to ensure that it continues.
Many members make Cross-in-your-pockets which are given to the residents of Eastwood Park 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.