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By Marriage Care:

In 2018, across the diocese of Clifton, volunteers in Marriage Care’s three Centres located in Bristol, Cheltenham (and Gloucester) and Swindon (and Wiltshire), hosted 11 marriage preparation days which enabled a total of 90 engaged couples to reflect on the commitment they were about to make to each other. Feedback from these couples was extremely positive, as these examples illustrate:

“This marriage course genuinely helped our relationship, in being calm and thinking more about how to be in love for a long period of time and what we need to do to help this work. It also helped us understand each other, more than we imagined it would.”

“It helped me to understand the real essence of the sacrament of marriage.”

“I think it has helped us refocus on the marriage rather than the wedding day. We felt happy to have had the chance to talk about and reflect on our relationship at such an important time. I feel we can face this big step with more confidence now.”

Marriage Care is a Catholic voluntary organisation which provides relationship counselling and marriage preparation. Set up just after World War II to counsel couples experiencing difficulty in the wake of enforced separation and trauma, our marriage preparation work grew out of what was learned in the counselling room, on the basis that prevention is most certainly better than cure.

We still counsel couples in difficulty and we do this locally from venues in Bristol, Cheltenham, Corse (near Gloucester) and Swindon. Clients reach us through a Freephone telephone service (0800 389 3801) and again feedback is positive. The service is entirely donation based, once a small booking fee is paid, and costs are defrayed by marriage preparation fees and other fund-raising initiatives.

None of the front-line work in strengthening marriage would be possible without a team of Centre support volunteers. These range from Heads of Centres, who look after the immediate needs of local volunteers, to chaperones without whom counselling services would not be possible. Coordinators, administrators and helpers of many kinds ensure that couples at marriage preparation days are catered for and that those delivering these days feel well supported. It’s all a team effort and very rewarding for those involved.

If volunteering with Marriage Care is something that attracts you then why not find out more? For marriage preparation work we provide free training and ongoing support. You become part of the Marriage Care community – both locally and nationally. In return we ask that you commit to delivering at least three marriage preparation days per year, which are usually held on Saturdays.  

On March 19th 2016 Pope Francis invited us all to do more to support engaged couples:

“The complexity of today’s society and the challenges faced by the family require a great­er effort on the part of the whole Christian com­munity in preparing those who are about to be married.”                                                         The Joy of Love #206  

At Marriage Care we celebrate the work of our volunteers in being part of that great effort. But in the diocese of Clifton we are also very aware that we can do much more to help couples sustain their lifetime commitment to one another. We understand that around 350-400 couples marry in the diocese each year. We want to reach many more of these couples with our marriage preparation service. Would you help us do that? Please contact volunteer@marriagecare.org.uk for more information about training to become a marriage preparation facilitator or visit www.marriagecare.org.uk.

Volunteer Profile

Adrian J German supports a team of volunteers based at Marriage Care’s Swindon and Wiltshire Centre. The Centre offers couple counselling, Preparing Together marriage preparation days and FOCCUS marriage preparation sessions.

Adrian, what do you enjoy most about your role?

The people.  I have an excellent team of volunteers in the Wiltshire & Swindon Centre.  They are, without exception, enthusiastic and professional in all that they do for Marriage Care.  We have had some enjoyable social evenings and fruitful business meetings.

How does your role benefit those you help?

My role is the least important within the centre as, generally, I have little contact with the people we help.  It has, however, been a real privilege to take part in (as washer-upper) Marriage Preparation days.  Having said this, judging by the experiences of other centres, without a Head of Centre, one of the facilitators or counsellors has to take on the role, thereby either giving them a heavier workload or detracting from their other activities.

What is your favourite thing about volunteering for Marriage Care?

I have met some wonderful people who are a credit to Marriage Care and who shine with the light of Jesus. 

Marriage Care as an organisation

Marriage Care is providing an increasingly more important function within society.  Firstly, we train people in what to expect from marriage – possibly the most sacred of institutions created by God.  How I wish my wife and I had been able to benefit from the experience of attending one of the Marriage preparation courses before we got married – it would have saved a lot of heartache in our life together (well some anyway!).

At a time in society’s evolution when marriage is less popular (sadly), Marriage Care is showing that it is exciting and fun as well as sacred.  The course really is a fantastic day for any engaged couple.

Again, there seems to be a view in society which “celebrates” divorce but Marriage Care are doing everything we possibly can to reverse this sad trend with our counselling service.  This really is an imperative in the UK in 2019.

Adrian J German
Head of Centre (Wiltshire & Swindon)
Marriage Care

We urgently need someone like Adrian to support our teams in Cheltenham and Bristol. If you believe in marriage and feel able to encourage and support our front line practitioners please contact volunteer@marriagecare.org.uk. We offer induction and mentoring support to our Heads of Centres plus regular get-togethers with each other and the national support team.

Did you know?

A 2013 study funded by the Department for Education evaluated three relationship support interventions including Marriage Care’s marriage preparation programmes. It found that for those who attended a skills-based course, there were significant positive effects on their well-being. For those who attended inventory type sessions, there were significant improvements in their relationship quality. Overall over 80% of those who attended marriage preparation felt that as a result, their understanding of how a healthy relationship is built and sustained had increased. In addition, couples said they were significantly more likely to seek support if things were to go wrong in the future, despite their indicating to the contrary prior to the course.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationship-support-interventions-evaluation  

Volunteers needed across Clifton Diocese: Could it be you?

 ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few’

Broken relationships are extremely painful especially among family and friends. Marriage Care is a Catholic charity providing vital relationship support to couples, in good times and bad, throughout England and Wales.

Based locally we help couples preparing for marriage to build strong healthy fulfilling relationships, and we offer relationship counselling to couples in distress. We are in need of volunteers who share our passion to build happy homes to join our centres in the Clifton diocese.

Could you give a few hours a week, a month, a year? Our following centres are looking for people like you!

Bristol vacancies – Head of Centre, Marriage Preparation Facilitator, Qualified Relationship Counsellor, Parish Liaison and Advocates and a Marriage Preparation Coordinator

Cheltenham and Gloucester vacancies – Head of Centre, Marriage Preparation Facilitators, and a Marriage Preparation Coordinator,

Wiltshire and Swindon vacancies – Treasurer, Qualified Relationship Counsellors, Parish Liaison and Advocates

For more information about these roles and our centres please visit us at: www.marriagecare.org.uk or email volunteer@marriagecare.org.uk.