A Word From Our Patron

'Family Groups offer our Catholic communities the chance to become more family-sensitive, friendly and welcoming, in line with the objectives of the Bishops’ collaborative pastoral initiative: Everybody’s Welcome. At their best, Family Groups offer understanding, friendship and support to all, encourage and celebrate family life in its myriad forms, and help everyone in the parish feel that they belong. I am delighted to be the patron of the Family Group Movement (England & Wales), and to endorse this initiative.'

Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton

Family Group Movement Collage

Family Group Movement Collage

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Ideas for Re-energising Your Family Group

Like everything else in life, Family Groups can become a little tired occasionally for a variety of reasons - this all normal and reflects the way family works – God’s family is no different. Here are some suggestions to help to revitalise your Family Group.

Some Useful Guidelines to Remember
  • Plan events well in advance and make sure everyone has the dates in their diary
  • Organise monthly events for your group, no matter how many can or can’t make it
  • Involve the whole group, including the children, in planning events
  • Keep cost of events low so that everyone can join in
  • Group members can take the lead for organising events in rotation
  • Try to plan a weekend away (in a youth hostel, camping, etc.) Time and space away in different surroundings can have a positive effect on the group
Ask other Family Groups
For some different ideas, you could speak to members of other groups to find out what they’re up to. If you feel it necessary, you could ask for some help getting things back on track – other people are usually only too willing to help.

Combine an event
If you have more than one Family Group in your parish, then see if another group is willing to combine an event with your group every now and again. This works well if your group has had a few events with low attendances or if there are dynamic issues within the group. 

When things don’t go to plan….
If something crops up on the day of your event, such as bad weather, it helps to have a very simple contingency plan in place, such as; picnic and games in the church hall etc. If fewer people attend events than planned – seek feedback from members and work on it for next time and share any issues with coordinators and leaders.

The internet can be a useful tool…
Social media can provide a variety of ideas and connect us in a way like never before. Facebook, Whatsapp, texting, emailing, phone calling etc. Messenger, for instance can be used to add a few members into a single conversation which is great for last minute conversations prior to an event. Members can use the internet to check out other Family Group websites in the UK or beyond to see what other family groups are planning and to get the ideas flowing.

Attracting new and existing school families
Go to new parents’ evenings to introduce Family Groups and hand out flyers. Keep the profile of Family Groups active in the school community and on occasion place a flyer on the school noticeboard or in book bags advertising Family Group activities that might appeal to parents and children. Advent, Christmas and New Year events/parties can also attract new members and encourage word of mouth from families already in a group.

Keep Communication Open
Communication between members is a vital link to what’s happening; texting, phone calls, Messenger, Whatsapp or email and keep in touch with members who have been absent from a few events or out of touch – this is a part of the Family Group values; keeping people under the Family Group wing.

Raising the profile of the Family Groups 
Regularly post updates in the parish bulletin and newsletters – including the local parish schools - little and often works well. Share any news with Family Group parishes nationally via the national Family Groups blog.

Here is a calendar from one of our Family Group parishes to give you an idea of how some other groups plan and communicate. 
*Names and contacts details have been changed to protect people's privacy.

Always remember, the real purpose of Family Groups is in bringing a sense of community to the parish, and a sense of parish to the community.

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