“Family Groups look like a great initiative, it’s a good thing to see that Christian people here are socialising and treating church not as a duty, but more as of a joy and a place where you can enjoy.” Parishioner, St Gabriel’s, Billingshurst
In 2014 the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton was awarded a grant of £25,000 to build capacity for family ministry. The diocese sought funding to explore the benefits of Parish Family Groups more widely following a successful pilot. Their application noted that “the traditional structures of social cohesion are not as strong as they were” and that as a result families don’t experience the same level of support and belonging. “This has consequences for all aspects of parish life including formation, and perseverance in faith practise.” The diocese aimed to launch Family Groups in 6 parishes in different parts of the diocese over two years, in order to explore the ways in which stronger bonds between groups of families might strengthen parish communities as a whole.
After one year the Project Officer, Kat Pond, has worked with four parishes, in Crowborough, Egham, Esher and Billingshurt, to get Family Groups off the ground – with more launches planned for phase 2. Between these four parishes 28 Family Groups have been set up, although some are very new and yet to establish themselves. It is estimated that around 310 families are involved in these groups.
The diocese plans to evaluate the impact of Family Groups using a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures, relating to the numbers of groups, participants etc and the reported experience and perceptions of members over time.
Find out more about Family Groups across England and Wales via their blog page