Saying goodbye to students

goodybe - michael-phelan

As our young people leave for uni we try to give them a little goody bag.  This year it included:

  • Pot Noodle
  • Bag for life
  • Pens
  • Post-it notes
  • Notebook
  • Corkscrew
  • Baked beans
  • Highlighters
  • First by Matt Carvel

Some of these are fairly useless and jokey presents, others have a more serious use and meaning to them but for us it is important that we mark this rite of passage as they leave home for the first time.  We want our young people to know that as they leave our youth ministry, as they leave our little village on the edge of the New Forest and head out into the big wide world we still deeply care for them.

As part of our goodbye we also run an event for those going off to university for the first time where we eat lots of pizza, and chat around topics such as accommodation, finance, lectures, friendships, relationships, social life, CU, church and more using a mixture of youth leaders and some 2nd and 3rd year students.  We had lots of feedback this year that this was a really helpful event giving lots of practical information and helping to deal with their fears and nervousness.

With all our students we try to keep in contact – over the first term we plan to send a couple of parcels to each of our students, and send fortnightly emails keeping in touch with each of them.  We’re looking forward to a Christmas social when they’ll all next be back together as a big group.

Job opportunity: Youth Ministry Officer – Diocese of Leicester

Leicester-Diocese

The Diocese of Leicester are advertising for a new Youth Ministry Officer:

With the appointment of the present Diocesan Youth Ministry Officer, Mads Morgan to a role as Pioneer Development Worker within the diocese, the diocese is looking for a new YMO to take forward this exciting work, located within the vibrant and nationally acclaimed Mission and Ministry Department.

Below you will find links to the Job Description, Person Specification and an application form.

Assembly: Communication

communication

This morning we did an assembly on the theme of Communication in our local junior school.

Ways of communication

Start the assembly by saying something like this. While you are all getting settled, I’ll just have time to phone my friend who lives in London, about 130 miles away’.  Speak on the phone/to the laptop, saying something like:  “Hello, Mum, how are you? Just a quick call to remind you to remember Daniel’s looking forward to ice creams with you this week! (Pause) You had remembered – fine! (Pause)I’m in school, just about to take an assembly. I’ll talk to you later. Bye!”

Continue by saying that if everyone can wait a little longer, you’d just like to email (or text) your friend Sarah, who lives in Chile in South America. Then tap away at the keyboard, speaking as you (pretend to) type. Hi, Sarah Hope you’re having a good week, and enjoying some sunshine. Weather here is chilly, but the summer was good.  Take care and talk to you soon. SEND!

Ask the children when your friend will get the message. He might even get back to you before the assembly finishes, unless of course she’s in bed. Suggest that this type of communication, although now commonplace, is amazing. We hear about things happening all over the world within minutes of their actually taking place:

Message in a bottle

Ask the children for examples of the way people send messages today, such as text messages, email, phone, etc. Discuss ways of sending messages through the ages: messengers, post, telegrams, pigeon post.

Have the four bottles displayed on a table in view of the children. Ask if anyone has sent a message in a bottle. Discuss with the children whether they think this is a good way to send a message?

Explain that it is impossible to predict the direction a bottle will take in the sea.  An experiment was carried out tracking two bottles dropped off the Brazilian coast. One drifted east for 30 days and was found on a beach in Africa; the other floated north-west for 190 days, reaching Nicaragua. (Track these on the world map if you have one.)

Explain that, fragile as it may seem, a well-sealed bottle is one of the world’s most seaworthy objects. It will bob safely through hurricanes that can sink great ships!  Glass also lasts for a very long time. In 1954, 18 bottles were salvaged from a ship sunk 250 years earlier off the English coast. The liquid in them was unrecognizable but the bottles were as good as new!

We are going to think about what kind of message might be sent in a bottle by looking at some actual messages which have been found. Volunteers can be chosen to come out and open a bottle and read the message. Track the journeys on the world map.

Bottle 1: Thrown in to the sea at Morecambe Bay by a four-year-old girl as part of a nursery school project on ‘Beside the Sea’. This bottle ended up in Australia. Message: ‘Hello. Please will you write to me?’

Bottle 2: Dropped overboard by a Swedish sailor called Ake Viking. Picked up in a fishing net by a Sicilian fisherman.
Message: ‘If any pretty girl finds this, please write!’ 
The fisherman gave it to his daughter, Paolina, who wrote back, and the couple subsequently married!

Bottle 3: Tied to the long line of a fishing net that was found by 88 refugees who had been abandoned in the seas off the coast of Ecuador. The boat had started to take in water and the men they had paid to take them to the USA had abandoned them three days earlier. As a result they were saved. Message: ‘Help, please, help us.’

Bottle 4: Picked up on a beach somewhere on the west coast of Africa, along with a New Testament of the Bible. Message: ‘God loves you very much.’ It had been sent by a charity called Bread on the Waters from the USA.

So you could put all sorts of messages in a bottle and who knows where it might end up and who might read it. It might be a cry for help, it might be a proposal of marriage, it might bring you a pen friend, or it might be good news for someone.

God is always there

Talk about the ways the children have already communicated today, e.g. talking, maybe a phone call, smiling, pulling a face, answering the register.

Show the children some of the forms of communication that you have brought. Ask what is good and bad about each one. For example, a mobile phone is a great way of communicating with people even when they are not at home; however, it can be easily lost, and there are times when it needs to be switched off, making the owner not contactable. An email is a good way to contact someone if you don’t want to disturb them at a busy time, but some people may not check their emails for days on end.

Explain that all forms of communication have their good and bad points but none of them gives immediate access to someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Christians believe that God is available for us to talk to him at all times. They believe that there will never be a moment when God is not listening to us. This can bring people great comfort as they feel that they are never really alone.  Psalm 121 verse 4 tells us: ‘He who watches over you will never slumber or sleep.’

Misunderstandings

When we think about how we communicate it’s really important to take the time to understand the feelings of others and what those around you really mean. Otherwise we might upset them, start arguments or just get very embarrassed.

Show the letters WC and ask your audience if they know what these initials stand for. (Answers may include Winston Churchill, West Central, etc.). Hopefully, you should eventually get the answer ‘water closet’ – an old-fashioned term for a toilet.

Now tell them the following story: A lady from England, while visiting Switzerland, asked the local schoolmaster to help her find a place to stay where she could have a room for the summer. He was a very kind man and took her to see several rooms. When everything was settled, the lady returned to England to make final preparations to move. When she arrived back home, however, the thought occurred to her that she had not seen a WC in the apartment. So, she immediately wrote a note to the Swiss schoolmaster asking him if there was a ‘WC’ in the place.

The schoolmaster only had a very limited knowledge of English and was not familiar with the term, so he asked the local priest if he could help in the matter. Together, they tried to find the meaning of the letters ‘WC’ and the only solution they agreed on was that the letters must be an abbreviation for ‘Wayside Chapel’ – a small church common in the Swiss countryside. The schoolmaster then wrote the following letter to the English lady:

My dear Madam, I am delighted to inform you that a ‘WC’ is situated nine miles from the house in the corner of a beautiful grove of pine trees, surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding 229 people, and it is open on Sundays and Thursdays only. As there are a great many people expected during the summer months, I would suggest that you come early, although there is usually plenty of standing room. This is an unfortunate situation, particularly if you are in the habit of going regularly. You will no doubt be glad to hear that a good many bring their lunch and make a day of it, while others, who are unable to go in their car, arrive just in time.

I would especially advise you to go on Thursdays when there is an organ accompaniment. The acoustics are excellent and even the most delicate sounds can be heard everywhere. The newest attraction is a bell, donated by a wealthy resident of the district, which rings every time a person enters.

It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the ‘WC’ and indeed it was there that she first met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to a seat usually reserved for one, and it was wonderful to see the expression on their faces.

Sadly my wife is rather delicate so she can’t go regularly: it is almost a year since she went last. Naturally it pains her not to be able to go more often. I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you, if you wish, where you will be seen by all.

Hoping to have been of some service to you, I remain, Yours truly, The Schoolmaster

Comment that, as you see, it is so easy to misunderstand those we come into contact with if we are not careful.

Obviously we hope to see you in the nearest WC – that’s Wayside Chapel, of course!

 

Reflection

Do you ever feel lonely? Do you ever feel scared and alone? Christians believe that God is always with us and that we can talk to him at any time.

Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you that you are always there for us to talk to.

Thank you that you understand me when other people don’t.

Amen.

Assembly: Sharing and Working Together

Sharing

We did this assembly on sharing and working together last week in one of our local junior schools:

Preparation and Materials

  • Equipment: two spoons, sticky-taped onto long canes; some small sweets such as Smarties, or crisps; two shallow dishes; two bananas; two bags of cookies.
  • You will also need a travel bag and a couple of books. Put one book and one of the bags of cookies in the travel bag – along with other items to ‘hide’ the secreted bag of cookies.
  • Before the start of the assembly, place three chairs at the front of the assembly space with the travel bag on the middle chair and the other paper bag of five small cookies out of sight behind the travel bag. The three chairs are the airport departure lounge. Put two further chairs to one side of the ‘stage’: these will be the plane.

 

The Long Spoons

Ask for two volunteers to come out and eat some sweets. Tell them they must use your ‘Special Spoons’. The children try to eat the sweets, but fail as the spoons are too long.

 

Stop the children after a few attempts and tell them that the theme of the assembly is ‘sharing’. Give them a few clues if necessary, so that they get the idea of feeding each other with the spoons. Stop after a few successful attempts.

 

Ask the children for any examples of times when they have helped someone to do something, or needed someone to work with them. If appropriate, have some children act out their ideas, or use the ideas above.

 

Discuss the need for working together to make life better, for offering to help rather than waiting to be asked, for being open to help and ready to receive it.

 

Have a Banana

Explain that you are very hungry because you missed out on breakfast/break/lunch (whichever is appropriate to the time of day). Say you hope that, while you are talking, no one minds if you have a snack.

 

Produce a banana from your pocket or bag and say how much you like bananas and how healthy and delicious they are, etc. Begin to peel it.

 

Part way through peeling it, stop and say that perhaps you are being a little selfish, and maybe someone would like to share your banana with you. Ask for a volunteer who really likes bananas. Choose an older child who is emotionally robust(!) and say you will ‘go halves’ with him or her. Continue to peel the banana, and then give the skin to the child while you begin to eat the fruit, saying: Half for you and half for me.

 

Look disappointed that the child isn’t eating the banana-peel, and say something like, I thought you liked bananas – what’s the problem? Hopefully the child will say something along the lines that s/he can’t eat the skin, and so hasn’t really had half, etc.

 

Make the point that sometimes we think we are sharing and being generous, when really we are keeping the best for ourselves and giving away rubbish. Can the children think of any examples, such as sharing sweets but only giving away the ones we don’t like? Christians believe that everything we have really belongs to God, and we need to be responsible with it and not greedy. In the Bible we are called to be generous and ready to share (1 Timothy 6.18).

 

Finish by apologizing to the volunteer and giving him/her the second banana.

 

The Cookie Thief

Ask for two volunteers to act out the story that you are going to tell. Tell the volunteers to sit on the two outside chairs. Explain that they are passengers waiting in an airport departure lounge for their flights. They don’t know each other and are waiting for an announcement to board their planes. The man is reading a book (give one to the volunteer).

 

The lady is getting a bit bored. She decides that she will get her own book out to read (she gets it out of the travel bag).  An announcement comes over the speaker system that her flight is delayed. The lady is getting a bit peckish so decides she will have one of her cookies. Without looking up from her book, she reaches down by her bag and takes a cookie (the child reaches into the paper bag behind the travel bag).

 

To her astonishment, the man also reaches down and helps himself to a cookie and eats it all (child gets a cookie out of the same paper bag). The lady is shocked and thinks what an awful man he must be. She chooses to say nothing but gives him a look of disdain. She has a further cookie and again the man takes one and quickly eats it. (Lots can be made of this – how the lady must be feeling – her shock and surprise. Get the children to imagine how they would feel in her place.)

 

Then to her disbelief, the man reaches down and takes the last cookie in the bag, looks at her, breaks it in half, offers her half of it and he eats the other half. The lady snatches it off him and with a scowl eats it. Another announcement is made and it is the lady’s flight that is being called. She pushes her book in to her travel bag, puts the bag over her shoulder, grabs the cookie bag, screws it up in anger, throws it in the bin and with an angry look at the man, storms off to the departure gate and her plane (child moves and sits on one of the other two seats: the plane), leaving the man behind to wait for his own flight.

 

Settling in to her plane seat, the lady prepares for the flight. She reaches into her travel bag to get her book. (Give a gasp of astonishment and shocked disbelief.) To the lady’s horror, she discovers her bag of cookies! (She pulls out of her travel bag an identical paper bag to the one just screwed up and thrown away. Hold this up.)

 

Depending upon the age of the children, remind them of what has happened and point out that the man had offered the lady half of the last cookie even though they were his cookies.

 

Time for reflection

What a terrible situation to be in! But reflect upon what the man did. Even though the lady was eating his cookies, he graciously let her have half of his last one.

 

Would we have done the same?

 

Just as that lady did, do we think bad thoughts about people when they act strangely? Perhaps we should sometimes turn around how we think and respond with kindness even when we feel we are wronged.

 

In a moment of silence, ask the children to think especially of someone they might share things with, choose to work with, play with or help in some way today.

 

Dear God,

Please bless our school,

that by working together and playing together

we may learn to serve you

and to serve one another.

Amen.

 

Mentoring needs to start with children

Mentor Children

Mentoring has been a trendy area of youth work and youth ministry over the last decade, however I’m not convinced that most of us have realised the full potential of mentoring.

In the church where I work mentoring is an exciting, purposeful relationship that helps young people grow, develop,  learn and share the journey that is life. Some want to work through specific issues such as anger management; others just want somebody to talk to. Whatever the purpose, our mentoring scheme can help to create trusting and lifelong friendships for any young person.

Over the last decade I’ve seen lots of lives changed by mentoring – the changes in behaviour, self-esteem, spiritual maturity and more and it’s left me with one conclusion.  We need to start mentoring at a younger age.

We constantly hear the challenging and distressing statistics about how many young people are leaving the church.  There is lots of research about just why this is.  Most of the religious beliefs, behaviours and expectations that define a person’s life have been developed and embraced by the age of 13, according to Christian Research.  If there isn’t a firm foundation in the Bible and the Christian life before that, children are more susceptible to succumbing to peer pressure, to doubting the faith and seeing church life as alien to the real world.

The Sticky Faith research from Fuller Youth Institute shows that inter-generational contact in the church is critical for a child to developing a resilient faith.  Take a moment to think about your church. How does it ‘do’ children’s work?  Is it separated away from the youth and adult ministries?  One of the easiest ways to join them together is to have a mentoring scheme that includes children using a combination of young people acting as older sisters and brothers, and adults who can act as spiritual and pastoral parents and grandparents.

I want to challenge you not to see mentoring as a tool to work alongside older teenagers but to instead view as something that children, young people and adults all need to be involved in – both as mentees and mentors.

How do you do mentoring in your setting?

Assembly: We are all special to God

You are special

We did this assembly in one of our local Infant schools this afternoon:

 

Start by looking through the binoculars as if bird-watching, with a bird book at hand. Pretend to follow a bird’s flight path. Every now and then say, ‘Wow, did you see that?’ Take out the bird book and pretend to search for the bird.

 

Notice the children and tell them that you are a keen bird-watcher and you have heard that there are some rare birds about. They have been blown off course in a recent storm. Suggest that the children help you. When you spot a bird you will try to describe it to them. If they think they have identified the bird they may put up their hand. 

‘Here comes one now.’ Pretend to follow its path. ‘Now this one is quite big. It is all white and has big wings. I think it is looking for fish.’ Take the first reasonable answer you hear and thank the children.

 

‘Look, here we go again.’ This one is making for the school bird table. It is quite small. I see a bit of blue on it. Oh, it is eating the nuts.’ Again accept an answer from the children.

 

Then choose an unusual bird, maybe an osprey, a kingfisher, or a bird from another continent if any class has been studying such a topic. Be very excited about this one. Lots of exclamation! ‘Imagine us seeing an osprey! Do you know how rare that is?’

At that moment another bird flies quickly past and you immediately stop talking to the children to follow its imaginary flight as before. ‘What is this one? Do you see it go? It’s brown and it’s small. Oh, quick, it’s landed on that gate.’ Keep looking. ‘I think it’s a … Oh, it’s a sparrow!’ Put the binoculars down.

 

Explain to the children that sparrows were once very ordinary in this country, one of the most common birds around, in fact. They are not very colourful. They don’t do anything very spectacular. But God speaks about them in the Bible. There is no mention of a seagull in the Bible. There is no mention of a blue tit in the Bible. Nor is an osprey even mentioned. But an ordinary, little sparrow. Yes, in fact it was Jesus who had something to say about sparrows. In Matthew 10.29, Jesus says that his Father knows when a sparrow anywhere falls to the ground. He cares about each common little sparrow. Christians believe that this means that God cares for everyone, not just the ‘special’ or unusual people.

 

Point out that recently the number of sparrows in the UK has dropped off so that in some areas they are not very common at all – they’ve become special and unusual!

 

Ask: how many of us feel very ordinary like the sparrows? Maybe we are very ordinary to look at. Maybe the things we are able to do seem very ordinary. Maybe we don’t think we particularly shine at anything. But just like the sparrow, the only bird that Jesus talked about, we are special. Each one of us is unique. Ask if anyone knows what unique means: we are the only one just like us.

 

Lewis Carroll

Ask the children if any have heard of someone called Lewis Carroll. Hopefully an older child will have read Alice in Wonderland and know that he was the author of the book. Spend a few minutes allowing the children to share what they know of the story.

Say that Lewis Carroll lived during the reign of Queen Victoria and is well known as an author. But probably not many people know that he was also a lecturer in mathematics. He invented something called the Carroll Diagram. We are going to find out what this is and maybe we will discover that the older children have been using these diagrams already as they have gathered and sorted information in mathematics.

 

Put the large pieces of white paper on the floor. To the left side of the squares place the labels Brown and Blond. At the foot of the squares place the labels Boy and Girl.

 

Choose a class or group with the smallest number of children in it, or the reception class. Explain that you are going to sort this class by their sex and by their hair colour. Bring each child out one at a time and see if they can work out in which square they should stand.

Ask the older children questions from the information on display. For example, how many boys have blond hair? How many more girls have brown hair than boys?

 

Explain that as we start the new school year many children have moved into a new class with a new teacher. In some classes there are new pupils. Some classes may even have been joined in with another class. There is a lot to learn about one another!

It is easy to be able to say what colour of hair we each have, whether we are tall or small, whether we are quiet or noisy. But there is so much we have yet to find out about one another, so many interests and talents that are developing in each of us. 

Very few people, including your teachers, perhaps knew that Lewis Carroll was not only a famous author but a famous mathematician.

Time for reflection

 

Reflection

Lewis Carroll was good at writing stories and at mathematics. Choose two things that you are good at. Maybe you could share these with your teacher when you go back to class.

 

Prayer

Invite the children quietly to look around at one another as you say this prayer:

 

Dear Father God,
Thank you that I am me!

Thank you that I am special, that there is no one else quite like me.

Thank you that you have made me in your image, which means that I am able to think and do and make and create and learn and enjoy.

Help me as I grow and change this school year, to become all that you made me to be.

Amen.

What is the meaning of life?

The meaning of life

On Thursday as part of the Arrow Course, my peer cell did a street survey asking people on the streets of Woking what they thought about Christianity, the church and more.  One of the questions that seemed to make people pause was:

If you were asked by a teenager ‘What is life all about?’ What would you respond?

The concept of what is life all about is what the Alpha course bases all its advertising around, and yet most people were flummoxed by being asked that question.  It got me thinking about how do we get people to consider the Christian faith.  Asking the question doesn’t seem to be the right place to start, and yet that is where so many churches in the UK seem to start their evangelism efforts.

I was struck by one of my friends on the course who shared about a church she knew that had done away with any evangelistic programmes, as people in the church just didn’t commit or invest in them, but instead as part of their church membership, each person was challenged to eat and drink once a week with a non-Christian – to live life with them.  Over the course of a couple of years the church had seen much more growth through this relational approach then it had ever had with any evangelistic programme.

I think there are two reasons why this has happened:

  • People don’t have a confidence in the gospel – they don’t know their bible or theology to be able to give good responses to their friends questions about Christianity
  • They’re worried they might fail – and yet the Bible is full of tails of failure and success – we don’t need to worry about this.

So the challenge I’m wrestling with is how do we encourage people to live life together, to help them discover together what is the meaning of life. Any thoughts?

What is child sexual exploitation (CSE)?

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse and it is illegal.

It’s when a child or young person (anyone under the age of 18), engages in sexual activity as a result of receiving something such as food, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, accommodation, drugs, money, or affection.

It’s a process of grooming where the abuser targets a child’s vulnerability, makes them feel loved or wanted as though the relationship is normal when in fact the child is being controlled through intimidation, fear or violence.

It can happen to boys as well as girls, from rich and poor backgrounds, of any ethnicity and anywhere in the world, including where I work here in Hampshire.

It can happen through direct contact and through technology such as mobile phones and the internet.

‘He makes me feel amazing… you do not meet guys like Jay at school.’

Did you get confirmed in the last 12 months in the Winchester diocese?

If so, then you should have received an invitation to the Diocese of Winchester Confirmation Celebration! Saturday 27 September, 10.15am for worship and activities, finishing with a BBQ, Ice Cream van and Bouncy Castle.

It’s an event for all ages, so bring family and friends for a brilliant opportunity to celebrate being confirmed, to chat to the Bishops (and others) and to have a whole lot of fun!

For catering purposes they really need to know attendance, so please make sure you email helen.gunner@winchester.anglican.org to let them know you’re coming.

Confirmation Celebration

m4s0n501

What to pack for university

Freshers-Week-a-Survival-Guide1

If you’re starting university this autumn, it may well be your first time away from home.  As you’ll have plenty of things on your mind already – and packing probably isn’t one of them – here’s a simple guide to what you’ll need for your first few weeks. They’re only guidelines – this isn’t a Scouting expedition, after all. If in doubt, check with the university’s accommodation office about what might be provided in halls, or with the landlord if you’re going into private housing. Oh, and don’t go crazy buying everything brand new – beg, borrow and buy second-hand. And learn to love Poundstretcher.

 

Self-catered essentials

A lot of self-catered halls come with a small kitchen, so students can rustle up food out of canteen hours (never underestimate the midnight munchies). These kitchens are often minimally equipped, however – think hob, microwave, toaster and kettle – so it’s worth bringing some essentials.

  • Mugs and glasses (plastic ones are best to avoid breakages)
  • Cutlery – fork, knife, spoon and tea spoon
  • Crockery – plates, bowls
  • Kettle
  • Plastic boxes/tupperware (for freezing, microwaving, storage)
  • Cooking implements – wooden spoon, spatula, tongs, saucepan and frying pan, sharp knives, chopping board
  • Tin opener
  • Bottle opener/corkscrew
  • Tea towel
  • Kitchen roll
  • Washing up liquid plus sponges/cloths

Other useful kitchen items

If you’re likely to venture beyond beans on toast, some of these items may come in handy.

  • Wok (cooks everything)
  • Oven tray
  • Sieve/colander
  • Grill/toastie maker
  • Peeler
  • Cheese grater
  • Measuring jug
  • Mixing bowl
  • Oven gloves
  • Tin foil/cling film and sandwich/freezer bags
  • (Cheap) wine and shot glasses (packs of plastic coloured ones are great)
Some things such as saucepans are often worth waiting until you get there, it might be supplied by the halls of residence, or other flatmates might have bought them.

Bedroom

It’s worth having a look at the set-up of the room on the university website/prospectus to get an idea of the kind of things they’ll need, and how much there’ll be room for. But you’ll definitely require bedding:

  • Duvet
  • Pillows
  • Bed sheet and pillow cases
  • Blanket/throw (especially for up north!)
  • Mattress protector

NOTE: make sure you know if the room has a single or double bed!

Clothes and laundry

Think about the local climate where they’re headed – if you’re relocating from Truro to Inverness, for example, you’d be well advised to stock up on the woolly jumpers and thick socks …

Other essentials
  • Hangers
  • Washing basket/laundry bin or large bag
  • Washing powder and fabric softener
  • Fold-away airer/drying rack

Bathroom 

Again, it’s worth knowing in advance whether or not you have an en-suite or you will be sharing a communal bathroom.

  • Towels
  • Bath mat
  • Toiletries – toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap etc
  • Wash bag/shower hanger (these are particularly handy if using a communal bathroom to carry shampoo, soap etc to the shower)
  • Flip flops – for the hygiene-concerned using communal bathrooms
  • Loo roll (sometimes provided, but better – far better – safe than sorry)
  • Toilet brush

 

Other handy/miscellaneous items

The bits and pieces which it may not occur to you to pack, but which are guaranteed to come in handy at some point.  Even if you don’t use all of them, they may be someone else’s saving grace.

  • Laptop/computer (as well as, hopefully, being used for work, this can double as a TV using On Demand apps – but be aware of TV licensing for watching live programming)
  • Chargers for all your electricals
  • Extension lead (old buildings; often too few sockets)
  • USB memory sticks
  • Stationery – pens, folders for work, paper etc
  • Alarm clock
  • Bedside/desk lamp
  • Small bin for room (sometimes provided)
  • Disposable anti-bac cleaning wipes (the easiest way to clean)
  • Febreeze spray/air freshener (covers a multitude of sins)
  • Decent-sized bag for taking things to lectures/library
  • Sewing kit, scissors and safety pins (handy for quick fixes and fancy dress)
  • Lighter (useful if using gas cooker and the ignition breaks)
  • First aid kit
  • Rape alarm
  • A few passport-sized photos (sometimes needed for student cards/signing up to societies)
  • Emergency pay-as-you-go phone (in case usual phone gets lost/broken)

Home comforts

  • Photos of friends/family and posters to decorate room (a lot of freshers’ fairs have a poster stall, so you can also buy these once you’re there)
  • Pins (if the room has a pin-board) or blue tack to put up photos, timetables etc
  • Extra cushions for bed
  • Hot water bottle (comforting and good to keep warm if you’re saving money on heating)
  • Door stop (good to have an open door policy in first few weeks – great way to make new friends)
  • Printer, paper and ink cartridges (not essential, as work can be saved on USB or sent to print off at library/print services, but handy for meeting deadlines at the last minute)
  • Speakers for music
  • Playing cards
  • Sleeping bag – handy for when friends come to visit

National Youth Agency launches vision for youth work in England

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The NYA have published their vision for youth work in England.  The publication sets out the charity’s aim that by 2020 every young person will have access to high quality youth work in their community.

The Agency lays out the steps needed to make its vision a reality, examining the role of local government, the business community, the youth work sector as well as providers and young people themselves.

Fiona Blacke, NYA CEO said

“Government must establish mechanisms to facilitate social investment. This will encourage investment of funds in youth services which can then be repaid when outcomes delivering cost savings to the state are achieved. Front loading services early on will cut costs in the long term.”

Read NYA’s vision for youth work.

How to partner in youth work with social services

partnership

With Youth Services having been decimated across the country, Social Services or Children’s Services are feeling an ever increasing strain.  The Church has an important opportunity to work together with these statutory agencies to provide better services for the local community.

Children’s Services are responsible for dealing with concerns for child welfare, fostering, adoption, children with special needs, and general child and education related enquiries.  Most social workers have between 35-50 cases at any one time, with a huge amount of visits, meetings with other professionals, and detailed reports that are linked to each case. This is only getting worse with lowering of staff morale and cuts to key services.

Here are three simple ways that you can work better with Social Services:

  1. Understand their thresholds: no one expects you to have the knowledge of a social worker – you’re a youth worker – but you can start developing your understanding of where you can work together with the statutory agencies by understanding what are the thresholds for access to their services.  For example, these are the thresholds that my local authority use.
  2. Visit their team meeting: speak to one of the area manager’s and ask if you and the other church youth workers from the area can present the services that you provide.  Often social workers are looking for positive activities to be able to refer young people and their families to.  You can help them to understand what voluntary or third sector services are available in your area.
  3. Play an active part in meetings: whenever you have the opportunity to attend a Child Protection or Looked After Child case meeting I thoroughly recommend you go.  The support you can show not just other professionals, but the young person and their family will earn you huge amounts of respect.  It is important that you play an active part in the meeting – one of the most effective ways is to ensure where appropriate you present a report on your links with the young person and family – this puts you on a level par with education, health and other professional areas.

Too often partnership fails to happen because we as the Church are scared by what is involved rather than social workers not wanting to partner with the church.  You have a chance to change that in your community.

What are the best ways you’ve found to link with social or children’s services in your area?