In the past we tried to do this by facilitating classic “Christian Union” style lunchtime clubs. However, over the years we have learnt the importance of serving the 95+% of young people with no church connection, which means instead of expecting a small handful of young people to come to find us tucked away in a classroom, we set ourselves up to go to where they are, both in physicality and holistically.
Our lunchtime ‘Safe Spaces’ do exactly that, as we pop-up our gazebo setup out on the school yard, most lunchtimes speaking to over 100 students in each school who come to check in with us weekly. As Christian workers and volunteers, we aim to create a safe space for those students to explore the big issues of life and faith. We provide an opportunity for them to rate their mental health and wellbeing with our traffic light system (data which the school leadership then use to shape their pastoral care), to explore the roots of how they are feeling, and explore positive practices. We find as we embark on this journey with so many young people across our five main secondary schools, it has become a great platform for building trusted relationships, where deeper issues of life and faith are regularly discussed very naturally.
With five secondary schools per week, two of which have double lunchtimes, the Safe Space project has a current annual value of £35,000.
To sustain an annual provision at no cost to each partnering school, and to extend our offer to the likes of after-school sessions, specialist workshops, online delivery, etc, we are seeking £40,000 annually. This would support staff time, provide better equipment and resources, and improve the quality of engagement significantly to grow the project and better achieve its objectives, supporting young people with safe spaces to explore the big issues of life and faith.
As per our ‘It’s Your Move’ project, if we were to extend to secondary schools in neighbouring towns such as Formby, we would need around £30,000 to contribute to extra staff and resources.