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Community Hubs bring outreach and a listening voice

by Michael Ford last modified 15 Jan, 2020 02:03 PM

Diocesan advisers have launched 3 Community Hubs as part of an outreach programme they hope to expand across the Diocese.

Community Hubs bring outreach and a listening voice

Original photo courtesy Pexels

In recent months, as part of our community hub initiative, they have been supporting St Peter’s Church in Shaftesbury in their work with young people in the town.

As part of our Community Hub work in Bridport, the advisers worked with the church leadership and local schools to undertake a substantial consultation with students in the local secondary school.

And as part of the DBE Community Hub work in Sherborne, church and school leaders are working together to better connect with and meet the needs of children and young people.

CYP* Adviser Andy Malcolm explains how the projects are trabsforming the communties they are based in:

"During a consultation with students in the local secondary school in Shaftesbury, the church became aware of a lack of activity on a new housing estate. In response, the church committed to hosting 10 outdoor sessions of youth work on a small piece of grassland in the middle of the estate, offering arts and crafts, sports + toasted marshmallows.

"Over the 10 weeks, many children, young people and families engaged with the volunteers, including an interview on local radio. A few weeks in, we became aware of a woman observing on the edge of the field. One of the team offered her a hot chocolate and started chatting to her.

"As a local resident, she had been watching the sessions over a number of weeks, but only today had decided to come outside for herself. In chatting to her, the team discovered that in fact it was the first time she had been out of her house for nearly a month for something other than doctors appointments and essential trips, and it was the first time she had spoken to her neighbours for several months. Watching the way the team had generously engaged with all those who had come along gave her the confidence to come and see for herself.

"Our Community Hub work in Bridport undertook a substantial consultation with students in the local secondary school. The purpose of this was to inform local leaders about the needs of young people in the town and direct the type of community work that the church and schools will together engage with.

"The core adult team had felt that they had a good handle on the kind of issues that might come out and many did match. However the consultation showed that there was a strong sense of feeling from the students that they didn’t feel welcome or safe in their own town.

"Going beyond the common feedback of seaside towns being geared towards senior citizens, students disclosed a sense of fear about going to certain areas of the town. This was a surprise for the adult leaders and has now led to the local clergy team and school leaders focussing their early efforts in their hub to address this.

"This work will seek to lead to positive changes to create a more connected community there.

"And as part of the work in Sherborne, we facilitated an event where 12 young people aged between 11-18 years old met with local leaders and influencers to chat to them about the students' views on the town, on mental health provision and on improving inter-generational connections.

"It led to some incredibly profound moments. Giving students the opportunity to think, reflect and own their views brings change in our conversations, change in our perspectives and brings people together. Through Diocesan support work will continue in the town to help local groups to address these issues with young people and build a more connected community."

*Children and Young People

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