Christ Church Quarry Bank have this week launched a much-needed Toddler group at the church, made possible thanks to a grant from the Kingdom People Fund.
The Kingdom People Fund was set up to provide grants to parishes establishing projects in line with our Kingdom People Vision. Christ Church’s toddler group also fits with our diocesan priority to double the number of children and young people worshipping in our churches by 2030.
Answering a need in the community
Val Houghton, Curate in Quarry Bank and who has taken the lead on setting up and running ‘Toddler Time’, explains the idea came about because previously there was nothing being run in the community in Quarry Bank for under 5s. There are no toddler groups at all. Val and Rector David Hoskin who applied for the funding, also recognised that they had something of a gap between Baptism and children joining Children’s Worship aged 4. Even though they had Baptism Families signing up to stay in touch with the church, but there was nothing specifically for them until years later.
Initially Christ Church held a taster session just before Christmas to see if there would be any interest in a regular toddler group. They had eight children and 10 adults attend and felt people were interested enough to launch it as a regular group. Toddler Time launched last week and meets on Mondays 9-11am in the side chapel of the church. They had 12 children attend with their accompanying adults which included four grandparents. They had a good range of ages from 0-4 years old with four babies aged from 2 months old. Four members of the church congregation also volunteered to help with setting up and refreshments.
How the funding is being used
Christ Church wanted to be able to offer the group free of charge, especially as Quarry Bank, where the church is based, has areas of deprivation and the Kingdom People grant enabled them to do this. Some of the money is being used to provide healthy snacks such as melon and apple, as well as hot drinks for the parents.
Christ Church have also been using the Little Seeds resource for toddler groups developed by the former Calling Young Disciples Team and have used some of the money to make up book bags and ‘story sacks’. For example, in their ‘Stickman’ by Julia Donaldson story sack, they've included a jigsaw, a stickman, a dog and a Father Christmas figure along with the book so that the story can be recreated using these items.
The grant application mentioned that some of the money will be used to purchase toys because they want to provide quality toys that will last. Any donations of toys are welcome but will be checked to make sure they do not have broken or missing parts.
They used a sizable chunk of the funding to buy and install a changing table in their toilet. Val feels this has been worth it so that parents and grandparents can change their little ones off the ground, which is especially important with younger babies.
Building a greater sense of connection
Most importantly, Val wanted to create a safe space for children and a place where parents and carers can get together and chat with like-minded people who live nearby.
They wanted to make sure there is some Christian input so Val's daughter who is an ALM in training, read the story and lead a prayer, which all the parents and children stopped to listen to.
Those attending are invited to Christ Church Quarry Bank’s Cafe Church which is held on the fourth Sunday of the month. The group has also been told about the children’s work on offer during the school holidays. This takes place on a Tuesday morning and they had 18 children and young people attend in the last holidays.
Val Houghton said:
“We’re really delighted to have received this funding. While it is early days, Toddler Time has been really well received by the local community, we’ve had a great turn-out and it’s wonderful to know that we are answering a need in our local community."
"It’s all about building relationships and I’ve been really encouraged by the response so far. At Toddler Time yesterday it was great to look around the room and see a group of four young mums all sat together with their little babies in one corner and in another corner four grandparents all sat together. They are definitely finding a sense of greater connection here, with each other, and in time hopefully with God as well.”