Vibrancy

Update January 18 

 

I am almost half way through my three year programme, which is a little alarming.  On balance the answer to the question “So, Vibrancy, how’s it going then?” is  “I’m loving it, but it is challenging me, and it is also challenging Friends at times too!”  … It’s a part-time job (26½ hours a week) which can at times feel more like full-time.  I work flexibly and can find myself working on any day of the week in the South West, at Friends House or at Woodbrooke.  One challenge is to manage what I am paid to do, and what I do as an active Quaker within my own community.  I’m still working on this one.
 
A lot of my initial months were spent getting to know Friends in the locality; this understandably takes time with much dialogue with individuals, groups and Meetings. In the last 16 months I have:
Found myself a lot more active in Devon & Cornwall, than in West Somerset (the third Area Meeting in the South West Locality).
visited 14 of the 29 Local Meetings, and another 6 Meetings whilst they have hosted other occasions than their regular Meeting for Worship
worked in more depth with specific Local Meetings, accompanying Friends in a variety of ways.
worked with Area Meeting clerks, reps and Elder-Overseers (particularly in Devon) more than the Programme team had initially anticipated.
 
The programme is being externally evaluated at several stages of the programme; I feel that I have developed a good sense of how it feels for ‘Friends on the bench’ in different part of the South West. Conversations are still happening of course and very much welcomed; do talk to me if I haven’t visited your Meeting,  or if you feel I can support you as an individual.
 
It is not all been about the ‘local’ though … I have three colleagues in the other Vibrancy areas and together we form a strong team, co-ordinated by Rachel Matthews from South Wales.
We meet regularly at Woodbrooke or Friends House every two or three months, and have many conversations with staff based there around what is available/on offer, and what could help local Friends more.
I’ve got to know more about Quaker Life, especially Quaker Life Rep Council and the network of Friends available to support us. I have kept up with QPSWs inspiring strands of work: our ‘Faith in Action’. Being able to be a small part of the ‘No Faith in Arms’ witness at the International Arms Fair in London in September was both humbling and inspiring.
The work of the Vibrancy in Meetings Programme is one of several initiatives within Britain Yearly Meeting which we link with, including the work of the Young Adult Friends Project. It is an exciting time to be involved. 
Woodbrooke colleagues are very supportive and interested in our work. There have been recent changes and much thought and planning around the kind of support local Friends would appreciate.
 
The Focus in the second part of the Programme:
A lot of work was done before staff were appointed.  Many of the issues we face as Quakers regionally and nationally have already been well documented as part of the careful discernment about what became titled the ‘Vibrancy In Meetings Programme’. I hear a lot of these issues repeated and discussed on my travels.
Whilst it is easy to keep rehearsing these challenges, my focus in the second part of the programme is to work on what may start to lighten the load and help Meetings remain (or become) more vital, whether at a Local, Area or Regional level … and I hope to work with Friends on a number of initiatives.
 
Identifying and supporting ways of sharing more between individual Friends, Local Meetings and Area Meetings is an important focus for me, especially for smaller, stretched or struggling Local Meetings.  I hope to accompany Friends as we consider the ways in which the work carried out previously by the Devon & Cornwall Arrangements Committee, such as the Gatherings and Devon & Cornwall Quakers website might prosper. I look forward to walking alongside South West Friends in the second half of the programme journey.
 

Information about the Vibrancy Programme:
https://www.woodbrooke.org.uk/learn/about/vibrancy-in-meetings/

Facebook page "Vibrancy in Meetings - Quakers in Britain"

How to contact me:

Pip Harris
Local Development Worker (West Somerset, Devon & Cornwall Area Meetings)
Email: piph@quaker.org.uk
Telephone: 020 7663 1163
Mobile: 07422 973 089
I am based at home and work part-time; I can be flexible, working on any day of the week including evenings. I try to use public transport where possible, but will happily travel anywhere aross the South West, using the car as necessary.
 

Background information about the Vibrancy project.