Local Development Workers (LDWs) will build on the success of the Vibrancy in Meetings Pilot Programme and has arisen from a long process of discernment by Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke trustees.
Paid LDWs already work with Quaker communities across four different parts of Britain. They respond to the needs and aspirations of Quaker meetings and support them to thrive. They offer support to meetings by:
- listening, encouraging and reassuring;
- connecting Friends with people and resources;
- signposting to other BYM and Woodbrooke services;
- facilitating sessions on a variety of themes;
- helping to review existing activities or processes;
- assisting with major projects.
The Vibrancy in Meetings Pilot Programme began in September 2016. LDWs were placed in four different parts of Britain to test whether locally based support better enables Quaker communities to thrive. After just two years, a report by the independent NCVO Charities Evaluation Services found that Friends in these areas felt more connected, confident and supported. A third of meetings with access to an LDW were making changes to reduce demands on role-holders while others reported that the programme was helping to bring meetings together as a community.
The aim now is it to have an LDW within reach of every Quaker community in Britain by 2025. The next group of four LDWs will be working across the following geographic areas, starting in 2021:
- North-East England, and the parts of Cumbria covered by Cumberland Area Meeting
- East Anglia
In future years further LDWs will be employed to cover other areas.
Hub for staff in Leeds
The trustee of Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke have agreed to create a pilot hub as a base for BYM and Woodbrooke staff outside London and Birmingham, thereby moving central work closer to Friends. The aim is complement the work at Friends House and Woodbrooke so as to build better connections between Quaker communities. The hope is to become more relevant lo Quakers in all parts of Britain, build resilience and reduce the carbon footprint.
The preferred location for the pilot hub is the office suite attached to Carlton Hill Meeting House, Leeds.