Over the years, I have been involved in community learning programmes, as a tutor and as a student myself. I have recently attended a really interesting course about the wildlife and archaeology in my home county, with the Workers’ Educational Association. I went on the course for all sorts of reasons, but one of the main ones is that I wanted to connect more with people who share common interests. The WEA have recently published a thought provoking article about how learning programmes can help to tackle loneliness; you can read it HERE.
I tutored on adult and community learning provision on programmes for parents returning to work after periods of childcare and I delivered cookery courses for stroke survivors . One of the massive things which struck me was how isolated these people felt they were. They felt they had been outside the loop of ordinary life and felt distant and disconnected. Their periods of childcare or tackling a new situation, because of a stroke, had meant that their lives had changed and the old ways they had connected with with wider world had disappeared. Community learning was a way back into knowing and feeling life in all its fullness…
I was in a unique position, as a community tutor, to bring them back into a wider circle of people and life. In many ways, the work and mission / outreach we could do in our churches can do the same kind of thing. We, as Christians who care about the world and our communities, are hubs of learning, connection and friendship. As churches, we can extend and develop this work. You can see resources and ideas in links below which can help you get things off the ground where you are and you can contact me if you would like to discuss your ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org
The FCG and the work of the Free Church Education Committee are committed to supporting our member churches and groups connect more with their local communities and breathe life into the way that they can work together.
There are lots of examples of how churches and community learning providers have linked together to provide services. You can read more about one of the FCG member churches, from the URC, doing just this, HERE.
We have created a flyer which you could use in your churches to being this work which you can download HERE.
Revd Sara Iles, Free Churches Group Education Assistant and Community Learning Tutor (QTLS / MSET)