Who are we.......
Hi! My name is Rachel and I am the Youth, Children's and Families Worker at Hatfield St Lawrence Church. We are a church in the centre of the village of Hatfield (near Doncaster), and we love to be there for our community in whatever way they need. From foodbanks, to Messy Church, to cabaret nights, to games cafes and funerals, we adapt for each generation and what they need.
What is the need.....
During lock down, lots of our usual activities had to stop or move online. It has given us a great chance to reflect, to review and to see what our community really needs. One sector of the community that I really feel has missed out during this time is new mothers and those with babies and toddlers. These groups are likely to be the last to reopen, and many new mothers had to go through the entire maternity and birth process alone.
Whilst schools are back and youth groups can return (outside of lockdown 2.0!), toddler groups are much more tricky in the current guidelines. This means missed relationships, missed chances to play and learn, and missed support that new mum's can give to each other and volunteers can provide.
What we want to do.....
In response to this, and to collecting feedback from 49 local mums via an online survey, we feel there is a great need and desire for activities geared towards mums, babies and toddlers. From the feedback we also asked for names, and "LITTLE LIONS" was the most popular! So we want to launch Little Lions as the umbrella name for our under 5's work at the church. This will include:
- Toy Library - a chance for parents to come and swap toys each week or fortnight, to reduce the amount they have to purchase at home, to try out new and different toys, and for us to build relationships with local mums too. This activity can be run COVID safe and socially distantly. Members will be asked to pay a yearly fee, but those on low incomes can apply to join for free. We are hoping to launch this in January (lockdown has put a delay on this as we want to protect volunteers safety)
- "Wild" Toddler Group - Our Grade 1 listed church building isn't the most suitable place for a normal toddler group at the moment, but we have an amazing field behind our church. We want to make use of that for a "wild" toddler group, meeting whatever the weather, enjoying nature and being active together. This is not something that is currently on offer locally. We will might have to restrict numbers depending on government guidance when this opens (we could have groups of 6 if needed).
- Bumps and Babes - For those with immobile babies, social distancing is a bit easier! So we want to offer expectant mums and those with new babies the chance to chat, meet others and get prayer and support for any worries they have.
What is involved/How will we use the money.....
We have applied to raise £3,000 towards launching this project, and here is what the money will be used for:
£2,000 - this will fund 4 hours a week of Rachel's salary for a year, meaning she can dedicate that time to planning, organising and running the activities. She will also be gathering and training a team of volunteers to help run them going forward.
£500 - will be used to make the Barn Field safe for the wild toddler group, perhaps installing a gate to restrict access to car park and providing better signage.
£500 - will be used to purchase new resources and equipment for these groups and activities, such as a gazebo to provide shade and cover, outside seating and other resources.
We thank you for looking at our project and for any support you can give. We really want to be able to love and support the new mums in our village, and are really excited to launch some new activities to do that!