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21 September 2019

Praising God for UP

Becca Harrocks UP leader
UP - group 2019

The last six months have seen a period of great change and development for the United Parents (UP) group, for those parenting alone in Southampton. Becca Harrocks explains more about how the group has changed.

In order to try to make the group more sustainable, we shifted from a termly schedule of events on sporadic days, to a more fixed timetable of meetings every other Monday evening in term-time. However, this also brought challenges. The biggest of these was a lack of volunteers to help with the kids’ groups that are essential to running alongside our meetings, in order to give parents some much-needed space in which to relax, reflect and socialise with each other.

UP - scones

We started with just one lovely and dedicated volunteer, so due to safeguarding ratios the children all stayed in with us on the first Monday meeting, whilst she entertained some of the younger ones who needed a bit more attention. Unfortunately, with the children in, it was loud and also slightly chaotic, which made it very difficult for the adults to have meaningful conversations. By the next meeting we had scraped a couple more short-term volunteers, but although it was enough for safeguarding purposes it was not enough to be able to split the children into age-related groups, so again, this was far from ideal.

For several weeks there was the real possibility that the group would not be able to continue to run, as we did not have the volunteers to provide safe and good quality childcare. But after much prayer, and John’s call to action in one of the morning sermons back in the spring, God has powerfully answered this need, providing some amazing volunteers to be able to run three separate kids’ groups from the autumn, divided by age. This is absolutely key to being able to continue running the group.

UP - speaker

Please thank God for his overwhelming provision to this volunteer need, and pray for wisdom, guidance, and continued provision in developing the content and structure of both the adult’s and children’s groups in the autumn. We have been so blessed also by John Leaver in the kitchen, and some fantastic guest speakers such as Bettina Collins, and Viv Grey from Life Church.

In the last six months I have also had the opportunity to meet with several key churches across the city to publicise UP. Please pray that the Lord makes this support group known to those who may benefit from it, and for wisdom and guidance in which partner organisations and charities in the city I should next approach.

Please pray that God continues to develop and grow the group, and that each meeting He brings whom He knows needs to be there; it has been encouraging to see several UP parents bring other single parent friends to the group. Please pray that UP continues to develop into a welcoming gateway into faith for those who do not yet know the love of Jesus, as well as an encouraging community for single parents who are already Christians.

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