The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

Members of the congregation have been asking what the initials A.F.I.A. stand for so let us go back in time to 1962 when the President of the Portsmouth MU became our new Central President of the  Mothers’ Union, she felt very strongly about maintaining the ideals for which the Mothers’ Union stood, encouraging anything that would strengthen the member’s resolve. It was suggested that what was needed was to concentrate on Christian Family Life, and after much prayer and deliberation in 1963 was the launching of the Christian Family Year, a major teaching and study programme being put in hand. Each Diocese had its own Family Year committee to coordinate the work, projects for Christian Family Action were presented, discussion took place on how best to help those in need.  After three years of deliberation and planning the details were finalised in 1965 and the Away from it All (AFIA) was well established in Dioceses throughout the United Kingdom where there are MU branches.

The families are recommended to us through various sources, social services, nurses, doctors, vicars, and church members, these people come because they are disadvantaged, single parents, husbands, wives, anyone who someone sees that they would benefit from a break and may never have had a holiday. A chaplain and trained facilitators and Mothers’ Union Members look after the families for the seven days.

Portsmouth has been very involved with the Away from it All project for several years. Every year approximately 10 families from varied backgrounds and needs are given this seaside holiday for free. The adults have time to talk over problems and are given advice to overcome difficulties, also to receive guidance as to how and where to get started and how to improve their family life. Good things do happen. Two single mothers who had good A level results and had always wanted to improve themselves are now at university.

The children are entertained by facilitators, playing games, going to the beach; some children arrive totally withdrawn and by the end of the holiday they are joining in with everything, as one facilitator said, “they leave so changed for the better and it is so rewarding and worth the hard work and fun.”

Away from it All is such a worthy project, it costs approximately 4,000, this money is raised by the Mothers’ Union in this diocese, one such holiday has just finished so now we start raising money for next year and by God’s Grace we will.

As Christ said, “Suffer little Children to Come Unto Me.”

Jennefer Higginbottom

MU Branch Leader

Autumn Edition 2012

St George’s Mothers’ Union - AIFA