Worcester Spirit Mark
A scheme to help churches assess how welcoming they are to children and young people
The diocese is looking at ways to help parishes celebrate their good practice with children and youth.
We also want to help parishes to identify ways in which they could improve how they reach out to children and young people and the ways they are welcomed into and included within worship and day to day activities of the church.
In order to do this we are introducing this award scheme - a series of questions for churches to consider, to help congregations to identify whether they really are 'child friendly' - whether they really do provide the environment and opportunities for the spiritual nurture and faith development of children and teenagers.
Bronze, Silver and Gold marks
Participation in the scheme is purely voluntary although it is hoped that as many parishes as possible will work with the ideas contained in it in order to improve their practice. Those parishes who can say 'yes' to all the statements contained in this first booklet will qualify for the Bronze Worcester Spirit Mark, which will be in the form of a certificate.
This can be displayed on the church premises as an indication to the church and the community that this is a parish where the needs of the younger members of the congregation are taken seriously and efforts are made to include them in all aspects of church life.
The Bronze Worcester Spirit Mark itself represents a set of minimum standards in children's and youth work which it is hoped all parishes will want to be working towards. There will be parishes who are going further in the way they include and welcome children and young people and this is to be applauded and celebrated, both within the parish and within the diocese through the awarding of the Silver and/or Gold Worcester Spirit Marks.
On completion of this booklet, parishes will be sent the Silver booklet. If, in addition, a parish can say 'yes' to all the statements contained in the Silver sections of the standards then that parish will qualify for the Silver Worcester Spirit Mark and similarly for the Gold Worcester Spirit Mark.
Help and support to achieve the standards as set out here will be readily available from the Diocesan Youth and Children's Officers (see below for contact details).
The Worcester Spirit Mark also helps children, young people and their families select a church to attend as the Diocese of Worcester has a webpage with links to those churches which have proven to be welcoming of children and young people through receipt of the Worcester Spirit Mark.
Use the jump links below to skip to a particular section.
What sort of things does it cover?
The Worcester Spirit Mark is a symbol which indicates best practice in work with children and young people in the following seven areas:
- All work with children and young people is carried out within a framework of good practice and in accordance with the Child Protection Policy for the Church of England
- On-going training and support for leaders is in place
- There is provision for the ongoing nurture of children and young people for their worship and spiritual development
- Children and young people are included in worship
- There is age appropriate provision for all children/young people (under 5s, 5-11s, 11+)
- The voices of children and young people are listened to and heard
- There is a vision for youth and children’s work
How do we get the Worcester Spirit Mark?
We suggest you get a group of people together to look at this booklet and the seven sections mentioned above.
It is important that the PCC is represented on this group but there may well be others who you feel would have valuable contributions to make, for example children's and youth leaders would be essential members of the group and you will of course want to include children and young people on your group.
Once you start working on the scheme please also contact the Department for Children, Youth and Education. We will then be able to offer support as you work through the process and, if appropriate, put you in touch with someone from your deanery who can act as a mentor.
By working alongside you in this way we will be able collect examples of good practice which can be celebrated and shared across the diocese to help other parishes develop their work with children and young people.
How do we fill in the booklet?
In this revised edition of the Worcester Spirit Mark we have placed the guidance notes before the self assessment section so that you need only print off the last 9 pages for submission to us.
For each standard you need to ask, not only "do we do this?", if you do then you can place a ✓in the 'Yes' column, but also, "how do we know we do it?" It is the answer to this second question that will need to go in the column headed 'evidence'.
The attached guidance notes will give you further information on each section as well as examples of where you might find examples of evidence.
What do we do when we've filled in as much of the booklet as we can?
When your group feels that you can answer 'yes' to all or most of the sections, then please contact us.
We will then be able to arrange for an assessor to visit your parish to discuss the form with you and the evidence you have presented, in order to confirm your attainment of the Bronze Worcester Spirit Mark.
You will then be able to continue to develop your practice in order to work towards the Silver and Gold awards.
What if it doesn't all seem to apply to us?
There will be parishes within the diocese, particularly those where there are either a very few very young children, or even no children at all, whose attitude towards including children and young people is positive and who are actively engaged in encouraging children and young people, but who may find certain criteria simply do not apply in their situation.
It is not the intention of this scheme to present over-rigid requirements on what constitutes good practice and so discourage any parish from examining and developing their practice.
If you are at all concerned about how the criteria in the award can be applied in your situation then you are encouraged to contact the diocese for further support and guidance or if you require further clarification on any of the criteria and how they may be applied in your particular situation.
What if we cannot answer all the questions?
There may be some sections which you’re not sure about or which you as a church have not managed to cover. In either case, do get in touch with us and we can pick up and advise on the sections you’ve not ticked and then help you with those sections, if necessary.