Viva has hosted an informal evening in Oxford to share the good news about our growing network of local churches and organisations that are empowering disadvantaged young people.
It’s almost three years since the formation of Doorsteps, which began with a research project to identify the needs for children and families, find the gaps in provision are and suggest solutions.
Viva’s Katy Thompson (left) described the progress made. She said, “Resources are increasingly constrained and yet the needs are growing. We need to do more with less, and for Viva the answer has always been to work in partnership.
“We’ve been very encouraged over the last few years to see a number of different partnership programmes emerging.”
Katy introduced the most established programme so far, called Find Your Fire, which is building young people’s aspiration and self-esteem, and finding routes into employment for them. It is a partnership between Donnington Doorstep, St Luke’s Church, Oxford Youth Works, Barnardo’s, Viva and Oxford City Council.
An inspiring video highlighted how the young people on last year’s pilot project had developed a number of peer education projects, including a web chat room to help students with GCSE choices. One young person said that he had learned better leadership and teamwork skills which can help later in life, whilst another said, “I have especially learned improvisation – something I couldn’t do at all a couple of months ago.”
Andy Jefferson (right), youth worker at St Luke’s, has been excited to see young people grow and develop new skills, and said the partnership with others was very encouraging. “Youth work can be an isolating job. With all the cuts going on, working together has helped to sustain the work we’re doing.”
Jo Hutchence, a coach on the programme, appeared on video to talk about that aspect of the work, saying, “Coaching and mentoring is massively important – what you’re communicating to the young person is that they can set their goals and, with a little bit of support, can achieve those goals.”
Rob Tumilty from Oxford Youth Works praised Shakeel, a teenager who had been on Find Your Fire, and who was there on the evening. “Shakeel was brilliant in being a mentor with young people at a summer school last year using the skills that he had developed on Find your Fire.”
Rob also talked about the National Open College Networks Accreditation, which the young people on the programme work towards.
Katy said, “Find Your Fire has been a fabulous example of what can happen when local groups come together, bringing their expertise and thinking about what the needs are. We hope to see resilient, confident young people as a result of this.”
Katy finished the evening by talking about several other Doorsteps initiatives in the pipeline, including a family mentoring scheme and community-based solutions around youth mental health, and encouraged other churches to get involved.
For more information, contact Katy at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
Listen to the whole event in full (18 minutes) by clicking below.