Youth Work Update - End of School Year Report
The end of the summer term was really busy for me, as follows:
- At Mayflower High School I was asked to mentor two girls through to the end of term;
- I taught year 10 (14-15yrs) about ‘Christians in the Community’ as part of their GCSE in Religious Studies;
- I assisted SMB with a lunch-time group and Community Support.
The lessons were very successful with Year 10 and they relished asking all sorts of challenging questions, whilst somehow managing to keep on track with the subject. It is great to be a Christian Youth Worker with knowledge about the history of social action in this country and also having knowledge on the structure of the church. In particular, there were some really interesting discussions at the end of the lessons about the importance of volunteering and helping others, as well as recognising some of the dangerous aspects of being a Street Pastor.
It has been a confidence boost to support the Religious Studies department during the last term of the year. I know that the staff were grateful for the help and I can’t wait to see them in their new home as they move across the school to different classrooms. The RS department also said farewell to their Head in July. Judy Bryans has been a teacher at Mayflower for a very long time and retired with all the grace in the world. It was a privilege to work with her over the last 8 years and to see how she has prepared for her departure. Stephanie Edwards has already taken on the role of Head of Department and is enjoying the challenges it brings. I have worked closely with Stephanie over the las year and I am excited that she is in the role.
Schools Ministry Billericay
Some changes have been going on at SMB as well. There are two new workers on board. Karen is focussing on Secondary school work and Charlotte is going to be helping out at Primary Schools. Ruth has become the strategic planner for helping SMB reach more families and communities, whilst Sue continues as the lead Primary Schools worker. The town is invited to join SMB as they celebrate their 25th Birthday on 24th September, 4pm at Emmanuel Church.
Youth Group has begun to take on a different shape. Over the course of the summer term we have been opening an hour earlier than normal to support some of our older members. SPACE has been a success and we’re looking to continue this in September and beyond. It is about giving young people the SPACE to reflect on what they are learning about faith, or getting additional support if they need it. We love to listen to the young people’s point of view about some very tricky subjects – approaching evolution vs creation and stem cell research before the summer holidays began. This term we are going to see where an extra half an hour a week takes us, what kind of theological understanding we agree with and what is needed in the way of supporting the young minds of Billericay.
Over the last year we have been raising money for work in Ciamanda and the work of McMillan Cancer Support. In total the young people raised over £300. This term we will be raising money for The Children’s Society and sharing with the young people the work that they do across the country.
SPARK met in June for the third annual Ninja Warrior tournament. The young people of Christ Church have a competitive streak. Jane had laid out several challenges in her garden and the young people took it in turns to see who could go round the fastest. It was very comprehensively won by Thomas Henderson in 2017.
During June and July, I attended two very good training sessions around E-Safety and Youth Work practice. It was good to come away from those sessions feeling refreshed and supported by the professionals who were teaching. The E-safety training was hosted by the Diocesan Youth Advisers and presented by Dr Bex Lewis who is a senior lecturer in Digital Marketing. It was useful to be reminded of some of the challenges the church faces when supporting young people who live most of their lives online.
In July, I attended a day hosted by Youthscape, one of the leading providers of youth worker training and resourcing in England. The event was called Tenacity and there were a number of workshops to attend. I refreshed my safeguarding training and also looked at contemplative ministry in youth work. The keynote speaker was Kate Middleton, is a psychologist focussing on Christian mental health. She taught us plenty about resilience and riding the waves of the storm with young people when life isn’t quite going to plan.
SOLID and Summer Festivals
In the middle of July, 18 young people and 8 adults attended SOLID, at Stubbers Activity Centre. We all had a brilliant weekend, learning about God, ourselves and each other, creating community and eating plenty of food. Every year SOLID has been attended by a lot of our young people. Over the next ten months we plan to invite Youth Group to join us in 2018. There’s already a team willing to attend with them and show the support that they need for a weekend away. I am really grateful for the adults who joined me for the weekend. Being 6 and a half months pregnant has its own challenges, but I was able to do an incredible amount of connecting with the young people because I didn’t have to worry about the practical aspect of feeding hungry mouths or knowing where everyone was.
A lot of our families were away over the summer holiday - visiting family, taking a well-earned rest, competing in sport or visiting many of the Christian festivals that happened in July and August.
Falcon Afloat, Churches Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS)
Ray and I, with 9 other adult team members and the FACT (Fellowship Afloat Charitable Trust) Team welcomed 22 young people aboard Trinity from 23rd – 28th July. We had an incredible time learning about God’s love for us and all about each other. This year we were full – 22 is the maximum amount of young people we can take away. Several came from a new partnership with the Make Lunch Project (something that I am passionate about), and others were from a variety of backgrounds, from across Essex and the country. It is always a bit of a risk gathering 22 young people on to a boat, no matter how much or how little they know each other. Ray and I were blessed to have a team that gelled together and showed an amazing amount of consistency and support to all the young people. We started as strangers and left as friends. One grandparent contacted us after the holiday to say
“It was so good to see her so cheerful when bidding farewell to the friends she made. It was a good break for her for what are difficult circumstances and we are certain she has derived real benefit.”
Ray and I really love doing Falcon Afloat. We’re always on the lookout for themes, young people to take and adults to help out. CPAS have been a great support to us over the years and we are really grateful for their encouragement to keep on going – so much so they have booked next year’s Falcon Afloat already! If you know of any young people who are facing any form of hardship in their lives, please suggest to them that they may like to go on a ‘CPAS Falcon Holiday’. You can have a look at their holidays here: https://www.ventures.org.uk/falcon-camps
By the time you read this I will be on Maternity Leave. Whilst I am away, please contact the church office and they will direct you to who you need to talk to. I will be taking 6 months away from work with a few ‘keeping in touch’ days in those months. There is more information about what will happen with different aspects of my role on the welcome table if you’d like to know anything further. I will be praying for those who are stepping into roles that they haven’t done before and for all the youth work that will happen without me. Please pray with me that everything goes smoothly.
It is an exciting time to be part of the youth work at Christ Church and in Billericay, if you feel God is calling you to join in please speak to Rev Margaret Fowler, Andy Butt or Carol Cockcroft.
Outreach Youth Worker