Pakefield Church’s Mothers’ Union meets from 2.00 – 3.30pm in the Church Hall on the third Thursday of each month. They are a friendly group of ladies (although men may also join). Some of them run the monthly Teddy Edward Club in church for babies and pre-school children and their parents. They also host and lead the Living for Life course that we run as part of our marriage preparation course. And two of them are the Diocesan organisers of AFIA (Away From It All) holidays for families who need a break but who can’t afford it.
PAKEFIELD MOTHERS’ UNION – PAKEFIELD BRANCH
PAKEFIELD MOTHERS’ UNION
Our two Sandras have relinquished their role as organisers for AFIA after a long term in office and below is a summary of the work they undertook written by Sandra Bendall.
Away From It All Holidays (AFIA) has been a big part of Mothers’ Union work across the UK for many years and is undertaken in different ways across the dioceses. Some arrange coach trip days-out for groups of families; some offer weekends away; a few have their own caravan which members look after and give different families each week a holiday in the summer months. One diocese even lays on a week’s holiday in a large country house where MU members sort out the accommodation, catering and entertainment for eleven families at a time! Others, as we do here in the Norfolk diocese, arrange a week’s holiday in a holiday camp.The holidays are funded by contributions from MU branches across the diocese and some other charitable giving.
AFIA holiday referrals are made by professionals, such as Health Visitors, Social Workers and Clergy who are working to support and assist vulnerable and needy families who would not be able to afford or have a holiday otherwise. There are many reasons for this, for example, family breakdown, redundancy, illness and domestic abuse being some of them. If children in the family are of school age,holidays are usually booked in the October half-term (May half-term being very expensive) but if only under-age children are in a family then these can be booked in June, early July or September when the holidays are not at their maximum cost.
With all contacts via the referrers, families are offered a self-catering holiday at Haven Holiday Park in Caister consisting of a week’s holiday in a two or three bed deluxe caravan. With this comes a Fun Pass which admits all members of the family to the many and various facilities available, extra activities have to be paid for, for example, archery. Families provide their own food, as they would if they were at home. They also have to make their own way to the holiday campby their own car or by the excellent bus/train links which stretch across most of Norfolk. If for any reason they cannot manage this it would be up to the referrer to arrange something. When they arrive at camp no one on the site is aware that they are on a MU free holiday (unless they wish to tell) and the caravans are randomly booked across the site
Sandra Sacks and Maureen Hill were running AFIA in our diocese when I joined the church in 2008. When Maureen retired from the post in 2012, I partnered Sandra until 2020 when we both retired. One new MU member from a Norwich branch has now taken on the role but we are still looking and praying for another member to assist her in this very worthwhile work.
Finally, over the years, we have had lots of feedback from families about their holidays but one comment in a letter received from a single mum sums up the work of AFIA for me:
“You have really helped to make such lovely memories for my beautiful girls and me that without yours and my health visitors help just wouldn’t have happened. With love and best wishes…..” SANDRA SACKS AND SANDRA BENDALL
Great news; we are able to meet again on April 15th in church, usual restrictions apply. Please bring anything that reminds you of Easter and/or Spring to read or some particular piece of music.