Outreach Youth Worker – Annual Report 2011

Thank you for the opportunity to report back on what’s been going on and what I’ve been doing here at St Francis of Assisi over the past year. Here are some highlights:

•    Our youth groups, FAITH and FAITHFUL, continue to thrive, welcoming members from the church, school and local community.
•    Our youth pantomime, Mother Goose, was a great success and involved young people and parents from both church and community.
•    Our annual youth holiday, breathe, attracted the largest number of young people we’ve yet had, with a good contingent coming from Birmingham.
•    We saw 4 St Francis’ young people Confirmed last year.
•    In conjunction with Christ Church, Selly Park we are running a course called Growing Leaders: Youth Edition.
•    I am supervising a group of youth/ children’s work students at degree level throughout 2010-2011.

2010-2011 has seen an expansion of the work in a number of areas, particularly in working collaboratively with other groups such as Christ Church – Selly Park, BVT and Rowheath Pavilion. My job has also taken on a training role as I have begun to supervise university students both within and beyond St Francis Church. The usual aspects of the work remain and there is both consolidation and growth in church and school work. My Advisory group continues to provide me with vital direction and support.

Our Young People’s Groups
FAITH and FAITHFUL, our groups for young people between the ages of 10 and 18, continue to play a central role in the youth work at St Francis of Assisi. This was epitomised by the production of our second pantomime in three years (Mother Goose), which could never have happened without the huge effort of both young people and many generous parishioners. We have also expanded our older Sunday School (Sacred Space) which now meets on some additional Sundays in the month. Some joint evenings have been held between the youth ministry of St Francis and Christ Church, Selly Park with the support of their new youth worker Ellen Eagling. Ellen and I are also running a course called Growing Leaders for some of the young people which has included a weekend away.

My work at Bournville School has seen the most change over the year. My work involves both individual and group work including pastoral mentoring and behavioural intervention. I am always looking to develop my skills and have attended workshops on mentoring and counselling for this purpose. Bournville School have also been supporters of our work at St Francis, most notably by providing some for the staging for our youth pantomime in January. My work at St Francis School is in a period of development and I’m now working with yr 3 young people in addition to yr 6. I have continued to support yr 6’s annual trip to Snowdonia and to follow up some of last year’s students at their new schools.

The Community
During the summer BVT, Rowheath Pavilion and St Francis Church organised a number of holiday events for the community including a mobile skate park and an open mic night. The Source, a drop-in for local young people continues to run on Tuesday afternoons. The Bournville Youth Forum, which I mentioned in last year’s report has been a happy offshoot from this relationship and has been a key mover in the organisation of many local events. It is also planning more for this summer.

breathe came of age last year and we welcomed the largest number of young people we’ve ever had with four coming from Bournville and a further half a dozen from the wider Birmingham area. We are looking for new ways to involve the young people in the planning and delivery of the holiday so that it can better reflect and meet the needs of young people’s spirituality. breathe is designed to help young people encounter God in an “old but new way”.

In October I was asked to facilitate a workshop on prayer and All Age Worship at a diocesan training day. This is a new string to my bow and some of the material I used is already bearing fruit in the youth ministry. On Mondays during Advent we had the opportunity to pray the ancient office of Compline, for those wanting to take some extra time in prayerful preparation for Christmas – this was followed by cocoa and mince pies! I hope we can do this again at significant times throughout the coming year. Many of the young people are involved in other church events that take place during the year such as Growables and Eatables, the Christmas Market and 4 Cs Active Church.

Paul Northam (Outreach Youth Worker) – March 2011