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2015 Inspire Awards: caring for the families in Devon

A child health drop-in is one service helping a Devon church cater for the needs of young families ...

Christ Church in Barnstaple, Devon has a big heart for children and their parents, discovers Sharon Barnard ...

Every week a band of around 14 volunteers at Christ Church will be busy preparing Sunday Club material, setting up for the parents and toddlers’ group or getting the cafe ready for the mums who bring their babies to the child health drop-in. 

“We call the drop-in ‘weigh, play and stay,’” explains Jo Grant the Young Families Worker at this north Devon ecumenical church (Methodist/United Reformed).

“The health visitors appreciate it as the church is situated close to the town centre which means it’s very central for families. We have an average of 47 babies each week.”

And at parents and toddlers on a Wednesday, the church welcomes 20 pre-schoolers and their parents.

Once a month a team of six goes into a local school to deliver Open the Book assemblies, and Christ Church holds a monthly cafe church on a Sunday afternoon.

Here the young and not so young get together for craft and listen to a talk. There’s also a worship time and a buffet tea at the end.

“During the school holidays we run as many holiday clubs as we can,” adds Jo, a former teacher.  “These may be during a half-term or the Easter holidays, but particularly during the summer. 

“They are aimed at five to 11 year olds and we have about 30 children coming along to each of these. We also involve our 12-16 year olds as young leaders.”

One of the highlights for Jo has been seeing the way people of all ages interact with each other in shared creative activities such as drama and art.

“I especially enjoy the times of spiritual reflection and creative prayer with the children which draws them in,” she says.

“I’d really like to see the ministry developing to reach more into the local community – and find creative ways to reach them.”

  • Jo Grant and the Young Families Work at Christ Church was nominated for an Inspire Award by Maureen Thomas from Barnstaple

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