Mothers’ Union

Mothers’ Union is a Christian movement that has been supporting families in the UK and worldwide for 145 years and which has grown into an international charity with over 4 million members in 84 countries. We work towards ending poverty, ending inequality and ending injustice. Our members bring hope and practical help to millions of people through parenting, literacy and community development programmes.


The Mothers’ Union movement began in 1876. Mary Sumner, the wife of a rector in Hampshire, set up a group to support mothers of all kinds in bringing up their children. After delivering a speech in 1885 to churchgoing women at the Portsmouth Church Congress, she inspired many of them to go back to their parishes and set up similiar groups.

Over time the groups who met as Mothers’ Union became embedded in their communities. They forged strong links with local people and the Anglican Church. They worked to support one another and give a voice to disadvantaged women while addressing wider societal issues. Driven by Mary Sumner’s passion for the role of women in bringing about a better society, the groups proved very popular.

By 1892, membership had reached 60,000 in 28 dioceses, which was to grow to 169,000 members by the turn of the century. In 1893, annual general meetings were organised, and, in 1896, Mothers’ Union Central Council was formed. For more on our history read the timeline here.

Mothers’ Union today

The movement today is made up of hundreds of individual Mothers’ Union charities spread across 84 countries. Mothers’ Union is unique in that members work together to solve challenges in their local communities. By helping to restore and strengthen relationships in families and communities, the movement gives a sense of belonging and acceptance to the stigmatised and vulnerable.

The Mothers’ Union approach

Mothers’ Union works by creating safe spaces and listening, breaking down barriers between and within people. Members often make use of participatory exercises, including Bible study, to surface sensitive issues and challenge harmful norms. Active listening is encouraged and plans are forged together.

By mobilising members to partner with churches, church leaders and other stakeholders (including government and other NGOs) mutually agreed outcomes are achieved.

Mothers’ Union equips members and their communities to recognise and use the skills, resources and talents around them. Through this process people are able to take ownership of their own future, lifting them from dependency.

Following from its historic routes, advocating and influencing for change remains important. Mothers’ Union works extensively through lobbying and engaging power-holders, especially government, to address underlying issues and bring about systemic change.

We have two active Branches in the White Horse Ministry, please come and join

For Westbury, contact Jean Jane on 01373 864585, and for
Dilton Marsh, contact Jocelyn Short on 01373 823870

The Westbury Mothers’ Union meets usually on the 2nd Wednesday of the month in the All Saints Parish Hall, Westbury.

The Mothers’ Union has a varied programme including talks on a wide range of topics and gets involved in a number of community events and programmes. Recently they have been involved in:

  • Virtual Baby project at Matravers School
  • Raised money through coffee mornings for the Mothers’ Union Fund
  • Enjoyed a Quiet Day at Lea Cottage
  • Collected cleaning materials and clothing for the Women’s’ Refuge
  • Helped with the First Steps to Worship

New members are welcome to attend the meeting on the second Wednesday of the month in the Parish Hall at 2.30pm

Branch Contact: Jean Jane 01373 864585

The Dilton Marsh Mothers’ Union Branch usually meet on the first Thursday of each month from 10am until 12 noon except for special occasions.

An Annual programme is arranged for each year which consists of:

  • Some house groups with an invited speaker or themed topic relating to the work of Mothers’ Union.
  • Some Deanery or Diocesan meetings with other Mothers’ Union groups.
  • Some social or fund raising events in aid of specific Mothers’ Union appeals.
  • Attending services at Salisbury Cathedral which include:
    • A monthly communion service;
    • An annual service dedicated to Activism Against Gender Based Violence & Abuse, when we donate items particularly requested by the Women’s Refuge.
  • We have Spring & Autumn gatherings with MU members from across the diocese where we learn from Diocesan leaders and trustees about the work of Mother’s Union both here and around the world.
  • We take an active part in the work in senior schools with the Virtual Baby Project aimed at teaching young people the responsibilities of parenting.
  • We enjoy an annual outing and a Christmas lunch which strengthens our commitment to the aims of Mothers’ Union which is :
    • To reach out and to support families in marriage and family life.

Branch Contact: Jocelyn Short  01373 823870