Charlbury wins the first Youth and Child Friendly Church Award

by Jo Duckles


MEMBERS of St Mary’s, Charlbury have been awarded the first Diocesan Youth and Child Friendly Church Award. The two-tier award scheme was launched last year by Yvonne Morris, diocesan children’s adviser and Ian Macdonald, diocesan youth adviser.

Celebrating the award are children and youth and children’s leaders with Yvonne Morris and Ian Macdonald. Photo: KT Bruce

Celebrating the award are children and youth and children’s leaders with Yvonne Morris and Ian Macdonald. Photo: KT Bruce

“We are really excited about the Youth and Child Friendly Award. It is a great opportunity to look at how any church can be more welcoming to children, young people and families; as well as looking how to more fully engage with them,” said Yvonne. Churches first look at the ‘Welcome’ they offer. They next move on to the Good News award, which is presented after the church explores how it engages young people in the living faith community of their local church.

The Revd Jan Fielden, of St Mary’s, said: “Our children and young people’s leaders work so hard they are just amazing. We cater for crèche age children right through to when they go to university. Some of them have been in post for years and it’s amazing how they give their time to the church.” She said the church has been encouraging congregation members to find out the names of two children each week and make a point of talking to them. JAM (Jesus and Me) is the Sunday morning group for older children and teenagers.

David Nicholls, who works with JAM said the process had helped identify new opportunities: “We recognised, for example, a need to look more closely at our work amongst children with special and additional needs. And that was very timely – Jan, Christine and I recently attended the ‘All Inclusive’ training evening at Diocesan Church House, which gave us a lot of food for thought as we explore this area further.”
As well as the various youth groups, mothers and toddlers meet at the Font Café, which recently re-opened after it was damaged by fire last year. The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, recently visited the café.

Christine Pierce, a teaching assistant, has run the Sunday Club for children aged three to eight for 30 years, said: “It’s really great that it has been acknowledged and recognised that we do welcome children and families at St Mary’s. We moved here in 1980 when my daughter was a toddler. I started to help in the crèche and quite soon after I started helping with the older children. Apart from a few short breaks like when I had my son, I have been doing it ever since.

John Clifford has run You are Only Young Once, (YO YO) for 10 to 14-year-olds for 15 years. The group recently had a bell ringing mystery with a ‘kidnapping victim’ locked in the bell tower and a safari meal, with different courses at different people’s houses. John said: “The number of members varies. At the moment we have 10 and two of them regularly come to church.”

Ian added: “It was exciting to hear how much the process of going for the award helped Charlbury to look with fresh eyes at their engagement with children and young people.”

To find out more about the awards scheme call Carolyn Main on 01865 208257.

 

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