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Christ Church
Billericay, Essex

 

Registered Charity No: 1131650

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Liz FisherYouth Work Update - End of School Year Report

Schools Work

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

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

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.

Training

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

Maternity Leave

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.

Liz Skudder
Outreach Youth Worker
Christ Church

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Liz FisherYouth Work Update – Summer 2017

Schools Work

In the weeks before Easter, Gary Bott (Baptist Youth Work Director) and I taught 16 classes at Mayflower high school to years 7 and 8 (11 to 13 yrs old) about the events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection. It was great to be in the Religious Studies department almost every day speaking to students and staff. The lessons were well received and opened the door for teaching years 9 and 10 (14-16 yrs old) about Christians in the Community, which is part of the GCSE curriculum. I have been able to give lessons with support from the department staff about content and group work.

Gary and I were also able to assist the Mayflower RS department as they took Year 7 students to Rochester Cathedral and Gravesend Gurdwara. The young people were well-behaved and asked lots of questions of the tour guides. It has been a really interesting time at Mayflower High School over the last term and I am praying that we will still be the opportunity be able to host a prayer space before the end of term.

Transforming Lives for Good (TLG)

In the last update I mentioned the work of TLG, a Christian charity which brings hope and offers a future through education to children and families going through a difficult time.  In May leaders from Billericay churches were invited to the TLG Essex Awards Ceremony dinner when two children who had shown exceptional improvement over the last year received awards. I attended the dinner along with Rev Margaret Fowler, Gary Bott, Jane and Andy Robb (Revival Church Billericay), Ruth Strickland, Sally Grimes and .... (Schools Ministry Billericay). The evening encouraged us to dream big for the future of TLG in Billericay.  It would be a town-wide initiative to support young people and children who are struggling in full time education. Please keep praying for SMB as they seek the way forward.

Christ Church

The Holiday Bible Club at Christ Church was very well attended and loved by all the children who joined us over three days in Holy Week. Thank you to everyone who supported us during that week. Eastingle was quieter this year and we think that was due to lack of publicity. We hope that next year we’ll be able to promote it more effectively.

Youth Group

After Easter we were joined by a couple of young people from Emmanuel Church as their main youth group leaders were taking a break to welcome their first child. The leaders were really happy with the transition that happened and we’re really pleased to be able to help out.

We opened SPACE for the first time on Friday, 21 April.  SPACE is the half an hour before youth group when the young people can come for conversations with the youth group leaders to seek guidance on an issue affecting their lives, to ask questions about faith or to have a time of prayer. The team have seen a positive response to this, including the young people wanting to be in the building to help set up for the evening. It is really good that the young people are showing that they care about the Church building and its contents.

Fundraising

This term youth group are raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of a Granddad who passed away recently and it’s going very well so far. Tiana and Sophie held a bake sale straight after school on a Friday afternoon and raised over 50. Tiana also held a bake sale on 14 July for her Aunt who is in need of treatment.

Recently we have been saddened by Bishop John’s news about his treatment coming to an end. The young people met him in June 2016 when he blessed our notice boards and we have been able to pray for him as a group in recent few months. June, one of the youth team volunteers, said ‘I will remember them praying altogether for the rest of my life.’ Praying together is important for us now and we will continue to hold Bishop John in our prayers.

Looking forward

7-9 July – Solid Youth festival – please pray for the leaders and young people as they spend the weekend at Stubbers Activity Centre
22 – 27 July – CPAS Falcon Afloat – Please pray for Liz and Ray and their team as they welcome 20 young people on the FACT Light Ship at Tollesbury.

Please pray for Liz and Ray as they prepare to welcome their baby boy into the world.

Spark met at the end of April for a games afternoon. It s a friendship group for our church teenagers that meets roughly once a half term. Using both physical and mental challenges, Jane Howell provided an entertaining afternoon for our young people. They relish competition in a friendly environment and are looking forward to a Ninja Warrior style challenge in late June.

Last Summer we offered free drinks and snacks to young people at our Pokemon event.  This Summer I am planning to offer refreshments to young people when they pass by going to and from Lake Meadows and am hoping they will stop by to have a catch up with their friends.

Liz Skudder
Outreach Youth Worker
Christ Church

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Liz FisherYouth Works Update - Spring 2017

Reports and Training

The New Year brought in a lot of new reports from Youth Scape (a Christian youth work agency), Ely Diocese and the Children’s Commissioner, so in the midst of preparing for a new term I was able to read these reports and reflect on the Youth Work Audit that Mark Tiddy (Bradwell Area Youth Adviser) had prepared for us at Christ Church during 2016. Both the reports and the Audit say the same thing – there must be a focus on working with children and young people – teaching them about faith and encouraging them to seek fellowship and to follow Christ. There are a lot of young people who are seeking answers from faith groups and we must be available and ready for those questions. One report, ‘Rooted in the Church of England’ also mentioned supporting paid and volunteer workers more fully in their roles, which for me was backed up by attending a day on ‘Managing Volunteers’ which was hosted by the diocese. Margaret and I will be looking at the job description for all the youth work roles in the coming months and seeking the input of those who spend their time teaching and supporting our young people as we write revised descriptions.

In January I had the opportunity to attend the National Youth Evangelism Conference, with Mark and Hannah Phillips (Barking Area Youth Adviser). Jimmy Dale is the new National Youth Evangelism Adviser and used the day to ask several youth advisers, vicars and youth workers to speak into how to support churches as they reach out to young people across the country. We had good discussions throughout the day as to how to support churches who have little or no youth work.

Schools work

This term has been all about booking in lessons for Easter. Gary Bott (Baptist Minister) and I have been visiting every week the Religious Studies department at Mayflower School to speak to the staff and support them. We are teaching year 7 and year 8 before the Easter holidays as a way of following up from the Christmas lessons that took place last term. Gary and I continue to develop the lunch time club, which now runs on a Tuesday and we are happily supporting the pastoral staff and other teachers during Thursday lunch times in Community Support.

Youth GroupYouth Group

Youth Group have surprised me this term and surpassed my expectations. We set out to get the young people to raise 8 to send to Kenya to help those who are treating foot parasites, called jiggers. At the time of writing we have raised a total of 85 and we’re looking to raise 100 before 31 March 2017. I will let you know how we do!

We were all saddened by Bishop John’s news that his care is now palliative and the youth group gathered together to pray for him and agreed to sign a card and have a photo taken to send to him in the near future. We loved it when he visited us with Mark Tiddy and blessed our notice boards!

Pancake 2Pancake 1Outreach

We celebrated the beginning of Lent with a Pancake Party inspired by the Church Urban Fund campaign to make people think and to raise money for families who go without food during the school holidays. ‘Holiday Hunger’ is something that is really close to my heart, so it has been really good to raise money and welcome families from our local schools into the building for an afternoon of food and fun.

You may have noticed that our bookcases have disappeared and the building is slowly changing. We are moving slowly towards renovation and part of that was to send our books to a charity called Book Aid. There were four large boxes of books, bible study notes, biographies, children’s books and commentaries that were delivered to Book Aid, who will then use them to raise money and send them on to countries who don’t have access to these resources. The small hall is slightly less cluttered because of it and we are looking to employing a carpenter to build cupboards around the TV for the technology, tables, and other boxes at the far end of the room.

Spark 2Spark

Spark 1
On Ash Wednesday, Spark met together to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. We made and ate pancakes and chocolate. Spark is for our 11 to 14 year olds and serves to build their friendship group and provide a place for support and fellowship. We finished our afternoon with a game of Uno.

Falcon Afloat

Plans continue to gather pace for CPAS’ holiday Falcon Afloat. Ray (my husband) and I are in our second year of overall leadership. We run the holiday for young people who are disadvantaged, and we’re excited to be partnering with Make Lunch Barnet to provide a holiday for some of their members this year. We’re looking for people who will pray and support us as we prepare and talk to other leaders and young people. Please make contact with me if you would like more details.

Transforming Lives for Good (TLG)

Finally, Gary Bott and I spent a morning with TLG (Transforming Lives for Good), learning about early intervention and education programmes that encourage young people and children to open up about their experiences at school.  Gary and I are eager at the prospect of supporting children and young people who are struggling at school because their home life is not stable, or they have been identified by their teacher as needing additional space and time to discuss their thoughts and feelings. These children or young people are often on the verge of exclusion or have been bullied. Each ‘Life Coach’ (an adult from a local church who has been trained) spends an hour a week with their chosen child for a whole school year. All of the stories that we heard from local ‘Life Coaches’ and quotes from teachers were incredibly positive. I’m hoping and praying that this is something we can take forward in partnerships with our local schools.

Easter Holiday Bible Club

During the Easter Holidays we will be hosting a Holiday Bible Club (11-13 April). Everyone from Reception to Year 6 is welcome to join us. Please contact the Church office for more details (01277 630144).

The Future

We are working on our response to the Youth Audit which took place in the autumn term. There are a few plans to help our young people to connect better with church and the spirituality they are seeking.  As Schools Ministry Billericay we are looking to host a Prayer Space at Mayflower School shortly after the exams begin. Please pray that there is a good reception for us to this.

We will also be supporting Mayflower School during their places of worship trip with year 7.

Please continue to pray for our young people and the pressures that they face. The summer term is just around the corner and they are facing exams and end of year assessments. A few of them are doing music exams on top!

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Book Aid Donation 2017

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