What is a local development worker?
Local development workers are based in different parts of Britain, working with friends in a group of Area Meetings. They are available to individuals, local Quaker meetings, Area meetings, and other Quaker groups. Their role is to make sure that Quaker communities are able to thrive.
Local development workers offer support to Quaker communities in many ways including:
- 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.
Any Quaker can contact the local development worker in their part of Britain, about anything related to being a Quaker. The local development worker may provide support themselves, offer other sources of information and help, or work with the wider team to respond in new ways.
We currently have local development workers in the following parts of Britain:
- Zoe Prosser firstname.lastname@example.org Scotland
- Sophie Smith (interim) email@example.com Cumberland and the North East of England
- Wendy Hampton firstname.lastname@example.org North West England
- Bridget Holthom email@example.com Yorkshire
- Helen Oldridge firstname.lastname@example.org Wales and the Southern Marches
- Carrie Comfort email@example.com South East England
- Pip Harris firstname.lastname@example.org South West England
- Bev Smith email@example.com East Anglia
The wider team will ensure that a range of services are available on all aspects of being a Quaker meeting. Much of this work is done in partnership with Woodbrooke Learning. This includes:
- Networks of friends who can support one another. This may be through e-mail groups, online meetings, newsletters, in person gathering, or offering tailored support from a Friend with relevant skills and experience.
- Resources to provide information and ideas. This includes leaflets, booklets, posters, sessions and study packs, Quaker Recognised Bodies, and specialist organisations.
- Events and activities which bring people together, provide fellowship and learning, explore areas of interest, and the chance to experiment. Training for Quaker role-holders is an important part of this work, led by Woodbrooke working closely with learning from local development work.
The wider team will include people with specialist skills and expertise in all aspects of being a thriving Quaker community. Some of this will be with team members, some by working closely with skilled and experienced friends.
You can find out more about areas of support on the Support for Meetings page.
The local development approach reflects learning from the successful Vibrancy in Meetings pilot. Find out from Friends how Vibrancy made a difference by watching this short video:
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What is meeting-centred support?
Meeting-centred support is the joint response of Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) and Woodbrooke trustees to today's challenges. It means working in new and different ways to help Quaker communities across the Yearly Meeting to thrive.
Quaker communities know best what support they need to help build the world described in Our Faith in the Future. And support from BYM and Woodbrooke works well when staff walk alongside Friends to offer help, ideas and challenge. By working together, BYM and Woodbrooke can make best use of our shared resources and expertise.
There's an appetite amongst Friends to try new ways of doing things. The public health emergency has made that even stronger. The same questions that are being discussed beyond the Quaker community – questions about the right balance of resources between north and south, London and the rest of Britain, and between Britain's different nations – are important for national Quaker work too.
And at the same time, the number of Quakers overall is declining slowly, and meetings are getting smaller. For many meetings, the focus is on keeping going. They care about Quaker work in the world, but don't have as much time or energy to get involved as they'd like.
The Vibrancy in Meetings Pilot Programme, the Youth Worker Development Programme, Woodbrooke on the Road and online learning, and specialist programmes on property, simpler meetings, mental health, and supporting young adults, have all shown the benefits of staff being personally known, and locally available.
BYM and Woodbrooke are responding by recruiting more local development workers. These are staff based closer to where Quakers are, walking alongside them, connecting them to others, and facilitating their work.
By Summer 2022, there'll be a local development worker available to every Quaker community in Britain. We will be working with all the areas who do not yet have a local development worker during the rest of 2021. We hope to appoint 4 more workers in the Autumn of 2021, and another 4 in the spring of 2022.
We have opened a pilot hub at Carlton Hill Meting House in Leeds. This is a new location for some staff working for Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke.
We'd love to hear from you. Find out about how to get in touch below.
A new Hub for staff of BYM and Woodbrooke
We have opened a pilot hub in Leeds in May 2021. This is at 188A Woodhouse Lane, Leeds – a self-contained office suite attached to Carlton Hill Meeting House. This is a new location for some staff working for Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke.
Friends have said that work and support based in Woodbrooke and Friends House can feel a long way away. We are trialling a hub for staff outside London and Birmingham.
The hub aims to improve links between local Quaker communities and our yearly meeting-wide organisations. It will also provide more locally-based services to support for meetings. In time it may also become a home for other Quaker groups and projects.
It will also be a focus for bringing together the many staff who are now working from their homes, across the whole of Britain. Learning from the pandemic, we are now an organisation which can do many things on line. This means that our staff team only need to come together occasionally. About 30 staff are now working from Glasgow to Totnes; from West Wales to Norwich. The Leeds hub will give us another place to enjoy seeing one another face to face – and for meeting with Quakers as well.