Using Growing Good in East Yorkshire

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A Place To Connect

Prompted by the Growing Good toolkit to consider specific needs in their community, St Peter’s Church in Wawne started a pop-up café at the village hall. Using the Growing Good Toolkit was an opportunity to grow in connection as a church but also look outwards and consider themes including presence, perseverance, hospitality and participation. The Growing Good resources facilitated an opportunity for the small congregation to consider again the resources they had, the needs in the village and how they could reach out into the community as a church.

Since it launched in November 2022, the pop-up café has become a popular meeting place in the village. Café guests have formed new friendships which have strengthened community and alleviated loneliness for individuals. For many guests the pop-up café is their only link with St Peter’s and an awareness of the presence of the church that is welcoming and active in the community has grown.

Reverend Eileen Connolly shares the impact that engaging with the Growing Good Toolkit has had on the church:

"Working through the Growing Good resources it was the theme of hospitality that loomed quite large for us: How can we be hospitable to people? How can we welcome people if they’re not coming into our building? We have a few groups in our community, farming families who have been here for a long time and newer younger residents who have moved in. You could say at times there has been some disconnect and feeling of them and us between different groups. What we wanted to do, and what we hope to do still, is break down that lack of connection between groups in the village. We’re seeing some of this with the pop-up café now, with an open invitation which has brought older residents and younger people together. We've got a baby area to create a space for young families. We’ve linked with a local sixth form who will be joining us to volunteer and build connection and help with developing their skills.

I think for the small group of eight who originally did Growing Good together, they were motivated by that desire to do something in the village and see a change. People have been at St Peter’s for a long time and it can be hard when you’re not seeing much growth. I think the experience of the pop-up café has brought a new energy and a new life to people in their faith. A growing expectation of what could happen as a team working together with different skills. That has strengthened possibilities which has been a real encouragement and it’s given us a confidence as a church and a team that we didn’t have before.”

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Growing community through action

John and Diane hosted the St Peter’s Growing Good homegroup in their home:

John shared: “Diane and I are relatively new to the village and we wanted to get involved in church activities when Eileen suggested doing Growing Good. We were happy to volunteer to host the homegroup at our house to help us get involved as newcomers into the community. This was also an opportunity to learn more about our new parish and until we did the course I don’t think we realised quite how big this area was.

From these discussions we considered the large number of people who live in the parish who don’t get involved in St Peter’s because it’s far away or we’re a small congregation. Plus, there are all these new houses where there’s mainly young couples with young families, they’re busy with work and children and church isn’t part of their lives. So as a group we started thinking more about how can we reach out and get them involved?

There is no café in the village. We don’t have a church hall and there is no pub or community centre or hub. We were also made aware that following COVID a lot of people were quite isolated because they'd had keep themselves to themselves and that had continued. We thought about how could get people out and get them together, and that’s when the discussions during the course about the pop-up café began.

It’s been a positive experience for us getting more involved in the church community and in the village community as the café has grown. We’ve become quite close to people and I think that would not have happened if we hadn't done the course together."

Diane shared: “I think people in cities forget that in villages very often there's only two or three people going to a church and it's very difficult to raise any sort of energy. I think as relative newcomers to the village we were able to bring that encouragement to try something new as a church in the community. I think we have seen the success of that with the pop-up café sort of bringing the whole village together all at one.

You see a mix of ages at the café and we’ve made new friends and connections. I think the process of hosting the Growing Good course in our home and now being part of the pop-up café team has really helped me settle into the area. I think we can see how the presence of St Peter's has grown through this experience and we can see other impact this may have had on community building in Wawne."

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Growing friendships

Liz participated in the Growing Good course and has lived and worked in Wawne throughout her teaching career.

“Our planning for the café after Growing Good coincided with the cost of living crisis. Even in villages where you might think people are quite affluent and wouldn’t be as impacted by heating or food costs, loneliness can be a significant challenge. People would really welcome a nice place to go and have something to eat and that’s what we’ve been able to develop at the pop-up café with a mixture of people from across the village. With the pop-up café we are welcoming to everyone and we’ve introduced some young mums to each other who didn’t know each other before and are now good friends."

Pam was a guest at the cafe and is a resident in the village.

“We found out about the pop up café when we had a note through the door. We’ve lived in Wawne for 43 years, and when we came to that first cafe we met people who had lived here just as long who we didn’t know including someone who lived just round the corner! Sometimes the perception can be that everyone in smaller villages knows each other but having community things like the cafe is important, especially to make those connections. Loneliness is a big thing and I think the pop up cafe has gone way to helping people who are lonely in the village with a place to meet.

It’s a lovely community atmosphere at the café you can join a table and sit and chat or sit by yourself and just be in the space, there’s no pressure which is a really nice thing. I know it’s run by the group from the church (St Peter’s) but it doesn’t feel churchy at all, it’s very informal and you feel people are here to listen and support. There’s some people here from the church but also from other walks of life. That mix is nice and we’ve certainly made new friends by coming along to this. We’ll certainly continue coming along and hope it continues to grow.”

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