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A message from Jean Vaughan, Action & Outreach Committee…
When you go our for a meal and are offered a hot towel afterwards, do please ask the waiter what happens to the used ones. I did this in our local Indian restaurant recently and found that the woven towels go into landfill as the company making them doesn’t want them returned!
So now the waiters put them in a pot which I collect weekly. I wash the towels and IRON them when they are dry so that Alison (and anyone collecting for another hospital) has a great source of sterile flannels for the toiletry bags prepared for the patients.
Win Win, as they say.
PS: If there are some that are damaged or too dirty then very probably your local charity shop collects rags for sale. Oxfam certainly does.
During 2018 MU in the Oxford Diocese have been forging links with this organisation whose aims are very much in parallel with some of the MU aims and objectives. Balsam is an interchurch Christian charity and is based in Didcot. It provides parenting courses for young vulnerable families and skills development courses. The families come from Didcot, Abingdon, Wantage, Wallingford, Bicester and the surrounding areas. Mothers’ Union provide refreshments for these twice weekly sessions. At the end of each 10 week course MU provides some of the refreshments for a celebration party which marks the achievements made by the parents. Balsam are currently supporting around 90 families who attend these courses, family days and celebration events. Some MU branches local to Didcot collect goods for Balsam and some purchases are made from the Diocesan Project Fund.
We have promoted our AFIA holidays to this organisation and in the summer of 2018 six families from Balsam Family Project were granted holidays. We very much hope this support will continue.
You can find out more about BFP at www.balsamfamilyproject.co.uk
Mothers’ Union members support the parents whose children stay at the JR Hospital in Oxford in a variety of ways.
There is a Ronald McDonald House on the top floor of the Children’s Hospital and members donate tea, coffee, hot chocolate, toiletries, cleaning products and up to date magazines for the residents there. From these donations the hospital makes up emergency bags which are given to parents who arrive in the Emergency Department and whose children are admitted to the wards. An up to date list of requirements is sent to each branch early in the year and the donations of items is rotated around the diocese We also make a small cake to go in the Christmas hampers that parents receive.
Members also provide new pyjamas for children who have died to wear when the parents go to view them. Older children are wrapped in new duvets. This is because hospital usually wrap bodies for viewing in plastic shrouds which are not very child friendly. We have made special cushions on which to place babies at this sad time so that this experience is less clinical. Treasured memory kits are also given so that families have a record of all their children’s hand and foot prints when one child in the family dies.
In addition, some people work with the chaplaincy team to visit the parents on 3 of the wards to provide a friendly face to talk to: some children stay in hospital for a long time and at the JR children come from far and wide, so are not always local to the hospital, whilst others are only admitted for a short period of time, but the effect on all families is enormous and an opportunity to chat is often very welcome.
Other hospitals around the diocese (eg, Reading, Milton Keynes and Stoke Mandeville) are supported too by donating emergency toiletries to those who find themselves in A & E.
Collections are divided up amongst the Archdeaconries through the year:
South Bucks: March /April
North Bucks: May/ June
East Berkshire: September/October
West Berkshire: November/December
Items required for 2018
Toiletries – Anything from soap, shampoo, shower gel, toothbrushes and toothpaste. All sizes are welcome and the small bottles supplied by hotels are very useful.
Coffee – individual sachets only please
Chocolate and Horlicks – individual sachets only
Tea bags – not necessarily individually wrapped so larger boxes are very acceptable
Small packets of biscuits – the ones with two or three biscuits only please
Magazines – No more than 5 from each branch please and not more than 2 months old.
Soap powder (for machines) } I would suggest that no more than one
Sink cleaner etc. } or two of each of these items from your
Air freshener } branch as a little goes a long way
Please contact Alison Bennett to arrange collection of items – See Focus for contact details.
Every Christmas Mothers’ Union send over 1000 Christmas cards to Bullingdon Prison. The prison chaplain gives each prisoner a card and a diary or calendar. These are much appreciated as often the card is the only one that the prisoner receives. We also send the prison Mothering Sunday cards so that the younger prisoners can send a card to their mothers marking this special day.
Many of you have said there is great difficulty in attracting younger people into MU membership.
Here are a few ideas to grow membership across the age-groups.
1. A good display in your church – refreshed a few times a year, using table and backboard if possible. Have Perspex holders for MU leaflets and invite people to take one (link to order form for leaflets available through the Diocese). Include a clear message of MU aims and details of who to contact to become a member. Topics over the year might be:
- Wave of Prayer
- Make a Mothers’ Day
- AFIA holidays
- 16 days of Activism
- Diocesan projects
- Baptism / Marriage support
2. Admit members within a main church service Here is a link to the central Mothers’ Union website worship pages
3. Present a written report for the APCM, with an MU rep to stand up and say – “this is how we make a difference at home and abroad – join us because we need to sustain this energy. Prayers and financial support are just as valuable as meeting attendance”.
4. Involve the whole church and community when raising funds for Diocesan, national and global projects. For example hold cake stall after the Sunday service. For a sponsorship event, have sponsor forms available in the churches. Advertise events in village and parish magazines.
5. Arrange a couple of evening meetings during the year (or a Saturday / Sunday afternoon) with subjects that will attract a wider range of people. Such as a Parenting Taster evening (ask for help from the Diocese); enriching marriage; MU work overseas. Find catchy titles and involve people with experience and knowledge.
6. Identify someone who has a particular skill MU member or not, for example, card making. Run a workshop and make Easter cards to send to people on your parish prayer list. Be sure to have an insert: “Made on behalf of the *** branch of The Mothers’ Union”.
7. Get involved with Mother & Toddler groups in the community as well as Pram Service or similar church events for pre-schoolers and parents. Have copies of Families First to distribute and other MU literature available.
National and International Policy work
The Policy work that members engage in is usually initiated by the centre who need members’ views to reply to government and other consultations. During campaigns, members are encouraged to write or contact their local politicians, MPs and MEPs when appropriate.
Mothers’ Union has Special Consultative Status on the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN and submits a statement when this organisation meets in the spring of each year – often members are asked for their views on whatever is being discussed.
Mothers’ Union has run successful campaigns in the past and continually monitors changes in the law that affect families – Flexible Families influenced the right for all to request flexible working when looking after children. The Bye Buy Childhood campaign supports families to manage the pressure of marketing aimed at children. We are campaigning for the fees for child maintenance to be waived where there has been violence in the family. Supporting marriage continues to be important and members take part in National Marriage Week initiatives. More information and links can be found here.
Policy Watch is published regularly and a link to the current issue can be found on the monthly Enewsletter and here.
Any members or branch that wishes to engage in a local issue concerning marriage or family life should first speak with the Diocesan President about it. Trustee approval will be necessary before any such activity carried out in the name of Mothers’ Union can begin.