These cards (pictured above) are just some of the 331 loyalty cards, each representing a local young person who has individually and faithfully journeyed with us over the last 6 weeks by coming to talk to us each week in secondary school.
We’ve had a whole range of conversations with a real variety of anything up to 500 students each week at our high school “Safe Spaces” – a time & place on site in schools where we create a safe opportunity for young people to explore the big issues of like and faith each week. The real joy of the last week of term was collecting in all the full Safe Space loyalty cards – 331 in total with their full 6 stamps! Meaning that 331 students have intentionally journeyed with us over the last 6 weeks, checking in every week on their emotional wellbeing, chatting about the big issues of life and faith, and forming positive relationships with our youth workers Tabz, Hettie, Paul (Lakeside Church) and Kathryn (Salvation Army).
If you’ve never heard of our Safe Spaces before & aren’t sure what we do…
Each week when a young person queues up to check in with us and have a chat we firstly ask them how they are doing. We help the conversation progress with a board of emojis that they choose from to represent how they feel, which they can tap on our iPad screens to log. Then for a more summarised view of their wellbeing, they tap the traffic light colour they are feeling that week on the iPad too. If they are feeling red, we check they are receiving appropriate support. If they are feeling amber, we talk about positive hobbies and habits to improve how they are doing. And if they are feeling green, we discuss how to love others as ourselves and help someone else feel green too. When they have checked in with us, we give them a red, amber or green stamp on their loyalty card.
We’ve now had two terms of setting up our gazebo out in the school yard (or our indoor exhibition stand in school halls / corridors), which was an incredibly fruitful step forwards for us out from the classrooms. (You can read more about how it all happened in a previous blog post.) It hasn’t just meant some great relationships forming with young people though – it’s also meant that the staff have been far more exposed to what we are about and have given us a great deal of support and encouragement for helping shape the culture of their schools. The loyalty cards in particular have proved very useful for school’s pastoral staff, as they can see if a student has lots of red or amber stamps and can intentionally offer them the appropriate professional support to accompany our helpful conversations. We’ve seen this in action week after week with issues surfacing and being dealt with that might have gone undiscovered without the intervention of Safe Space.
At Southport & Area Schools Worker Trust we are very glad of the support from Scripture Union and exist as both a ‘Local Mission Partner’ and trained ‘Faith Guides’. SU’s new framework for ‘revealing Jesus’ with generation Z & alpha is an extremely practical, very inspired, and well researched approach to working with children and young people. You can find out more about this at: scriptureunion.org.uk/revealingjesus Essentially, it carries a very heavy focus on relationship building and journeying with young people, starting at a place of belonging. We’re amazed at how great an opportunity the loyalty cards have provided for this, and that Safe Space could become a place for any young people who want to explore faith more and connect with the Church locally. Safe Space can be a catalyst for all this whilst also being a place that is safe for those who aren’t interested in faith to still build on positive relationships that are proving to be helpful for them as they journey through school and life beyond. We hope by practising our loyalty and faithfulness each week, we are helping to develop a message of value and self-worth in the minds and hearts of young people.
Looking through the cards and remembering all the students that have faithfully kept coming back each week has been quite emotional… but what was really special was choosing a student at random from each of our schools to receive a gift from the end of term ‘prize draw’, including a bunch of things for them to enjoy and resources to help them with their wellbeing. It was so fun to see their faces when we briefly pulled them out of their lesson to tell them THEY had won! And it’s all thanks to our wonderful, charitable supporters – making a difference in the lives of so many young people.