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Taking Good News to young people in Swindon for over 60 years

Autumn 2011


Registered Charity no. 274402

Laura Rawson

Directors Notes Some notes from our director Rev. Chris Priddy: This term we have been asking young people in Pinehurst ‘What is your dream’? We’ve also been doing some dreaming of our own as we have drawn up a new strategy to direct our work over the next 3 years. We asked the young people to think about what Gods dream for them might be and through conversation and consultation we sought to discover some of what Gods dream for us as an organisation might be. Both opportunities have excited and amazed me. “My dream is that my mum and dad get along so I can see him more.” “I dream of a peaceful fulfilled life.” “I dream that the community will always be there for one another.” “My dream is to be a good scooter rider.” “I dream about being rich.” Through school assemblies and a ‘dreamspace’ installation in the school faith room we invited young people to look beyond superficial dreams of wealth and fame and to search out what Gods dream for their future might be, what His dream for the world is and how they could join with God in seeing His dream for the world become a reality. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’ Rev. 21:4. Our God-given dreams for the future of SYFC involve seeing more young people, in more schools and communities given the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news in a way which deeply transforms their life. This year we have no gap year students joining us but we do have a fantastically gifted and passionate team who God is already using in some incredible ways to bring hope, joy and life to young people right across the town. As you read this Autumn Newsletter please give thanks with us for all that He is doing and pray with us that He might do ‘immeasurably more’ through us.

New youth worker joins the SYFC team. Hi, I’m Laura, I have just moved to Swindon to take on two part-time jobs, one here with Swindon Youth for Christ and the other with Highworth Methodist Church. Originally from Cheltenham, I have spent the last three years studying for a degree in Christian Youth Work in Chester. Many people have asked me “why on earth would you have ever chosen Swindon?” to this, my response will always be “God has called me here!”

term vision of setting up a church in the community. With this being a new post there is a lot of scope to try new groups and activities, this is incredibly exciting and at all times we have to seek direction from God. I have been praying that God will lead me to parts of the community that He wants me to be working in and lead me to the people He wants me to build relationships with. I strongly believe that through relationships and conversations we can show God’s infinite love to the people around us.

God’s hand has been over this move from the moment I received the application form. I thought I had missed the deadline, to find I had only two hours to fill it in when I looked at it again. I had an interview for another ‘Why on earth would you have ever YFC centre in an area where Aston Martins were the car of choice, during which time chosen Swindon?’ I couldn’t stop thinking about Swindon. - ‘God has called me here!’ I accepted the part time job in Swindon, and everything else was given to me: a Over the last month I have been leading housemate, a house and most amazingly assemblies and spending a lot of lunchtimes another part-time job so I could afford to in Swindon Academy’s Faith Room engaging move, live and survive! in conversations with young people about My specific role here at SYFC is based in their dreams for themselves and for the Pinehurst looking at ways we can engage wider world. My dream for the next two young people in faith issues with the long years is for the Christian community in Pinehurst to grow, not only numerically, but to grow spiritually together as well. I thank God for this opportunity to serve Him here in Swindon and am excited by what God has in store. Please pray for the work which is already happening through SYFC, BIOS, and Pinehurst Chaplaincy team, and for me in settling further into my role and life here in Swindon.

The 2011/12 Team (Left-Right) : Rob (BIOS CYM), Luella (Lead Schools Worker), Amy (CYM), Chris D. (Centre Manager), Chris P. (Centre Director), Sheunesu (ZimbabweYFC), Laura (Youthworker), Tim (BIOS)

Swindon Youth for Christ, P. O. BOX 2352, SWINDON SN2 1WE (01793) 829795

NOMAD - Mission in a cage


After three great weeks with NOMAD football coaches and cage last year, we booked the team to come and work with us again, for a week in October. The team worked in Swindon Academy, Nova Hreod and Lydiard Park Academy (formally known as Greendown School). Nomad delivered PE lessons to a range of age groups from 10 year olds to 16 year olds around the theme of self belief and team work. Nomad explored the lesson theme through warm ups, coaching and cage football itself and shared how important self belief is in our lives. At the end of one of the team work lessons with year 11’s, one of the boys said “ tell us a Bible story about team work!!” he then proceeded to ask the rest of his class to sit down on the grass and listen to the story!! Nomad shared how the Bible speaks about the church being the body of Christ and how God has given us all gifts and abilities to work together effectively. They then related this to a football team and how they work together to achieve goals to show how it can work practically.

‘Tell us a bible story team work!’

The whole week in schools enabled us to work with those young people who don’t normally engage with us through our clubs as well as building upon those relationships about we already have in schools. Nomad also ran sessions in the community during evenings and on the Saturday running free play sessions for the local young people in the football cage.

On the Saturday Nomad set up the cage in the Courts area of Pinehurst West, after initially coming across some resistance to the cage we moved the location to across the road and set up again! Throughout the afternoon we had around 100 local residents come out and join us enjoying the weather, football, free food and drinks! It was amazing to see all parts of the community together and one young person came up to us and said the people who were resisting were wrong and that all the young people were thankful to SYFC for putting on the day for them and for bringing it to their community.

Year of Passion I often read articles and reports that tell me that every week young people leave the church and never return. I am told that young people today are simply not interested in church and yet in September 85 young people came out on a Saturday night to attend a church service. Those 85 young people worshipped God with us, some danced and jumped and some raised their hands in praise. The same 85 young people sat on the floor for 30 minutes listening to Jamie Hill from The Bible Society preach about having a passion for Gods story as told in the Bible, he didn’t use funny video clips or fancy powerpoint slides and afterwards 6 young people came forward to make a commitment to living in Gods story. Every IMPACT event I am astounded by how God uses this church service to speak to and meet with young people in powerful and dramatic ways. This year our theme is ‘Passion’ and together we will be exploring how God is calling us to have a passion for, the Bible, for the place in which we live, for prayer and worship and for the lost. Please pray for us all as we journey and explore these topics with the young people. IMPACT DATES: Nov 26th : UR PLACE Feb 11th : PRAYER Apr 21st : WORSHIP Jun 16th : THE LOST 7:00pm - 9:15pm At Citifaith Church

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“All This God Stuff Makes Sense” Whilst in Kingsdown School playground a few weeks ago doing detached work Chris and Luella were privileged to be bombarded with questions about God. In the space of a 30 minute conversation with 12 young people we spoke about creation, heaven and hell, the persecuted church, nature vs nurture, who Jesus is, sex and relationships, what we believe, how we became Christians and much more. At the end of lunchtime one 13 year old boy said, ‘I was an atheist a few weeks ago, but now I am seriously thinking that all this God stuff makes sense and there must be something more.’ These young people are so hungry to hear about God and it is such a privilege to be able to share our faith with them to help them on their own individual journeys.

BREATHE NETWORK On Thursday 27th October we hosted our first ever ‘Thank you event’ for the Christian volunteer youth leaders in the town at Costa Coffee. We had a fantastic evening sharing how God was at work in the lives of young people in Swindon and drinking lovely coffee, tea and hot chocolate. We intend to make this an annual celebration and are looking forward to all that God is going to do this year through these fantastic, incredibly faithful, dedicated people. If you are a volunteer youth worker and would value some support, prayer, ideas and resources then please join the network at

BIOS is now entering its second year and over the past 12 months has seen much progress and has positively impacted the lives of many young people. From the simplest of things, like just being in a park and providing drinks and playing sport, to more in-depth work supporting those dealing with bereavement or self harm issues BIOS is committed to meeting young people where they are at and helping them engage in positive activities and undertake sessions that provide the tailored support they need. Over the last academic year we undertook work with a number of year 11 students aiming to help them as they coped with life issues, the pressure of exams and indecision surrounding their futures. 80% of those we worked with achieved higher than predicted grades and all students accessed collage placements providing them with a firm foundation for their futures. This year we are increasing our support for 15/16 year olds who are struggling with similar issues in a number of Swindon schools. We are continuing our community projects and regularly meet with over 75 young people each week through detached work or in centre based youth clubs. We are now seeing the results of the community relationships we are developing with a large percentage of those we are working with in schools having already met us and built relationships with us in the community. Rob Burns has now joined BIOS as a full time Centre for Youth Ministry student. Having worked for BIOS last year as a volunteer he is now working on placement with BIOS as he undertakes a degree in ‘Schools youth and community work’. It is great to have Rob as part of the team and see the projects that he is working on grow and develop as he supports young people in Swindon. BIOS is now seeking to increase the number of volunteers who work with us. If you would be interested in exploring how you could help us to support young people, in local communities or through 1 to 1 and group work school sessions then please contact us through the SYFC office.


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SCHOOLSWORK UPDATE The first term back in schools has been really busy with all our ongoing work starting again. In addition to our lunchtime and afterschool clubs, we are still supporting and facilitating XL and ASDAN lessons in Swindon Academy and delivering detached work in Kinsgdown School. This term has also seen new doors open for the team. We have been working alongside Primary school worker Abi Corry from in:School helping new Year 7 students make the transition into Dorcan School by delivering lunch time detached work. As a result of this Chris and Luella are now working with the Year 7’s every Monday lunchtime. We have also been booked to deliver a week of assemblies in Churchfields school in early November. This is a great opportunity to not only advertise our lunchtime club in the school but to have contact with hundreds of young people where the door hasn’t been open before. We have also delivered assemblies in Swindon Academy and Crowdys this term and have more scheduled in for both schools. We are delivering Year 7 lessons in Lydiard Park Academy (formally Greendown school) on the theme of Respect throughout November. This will be a great opportunity to meet the young people and explore what it means to respect people who may not necessarily respect them.

LUSH, our relationships education programme has been rewritten and adapted by Luella and Chris. Our hope is that we can deliver this in every secondary school in Swindon as part of the PSHE curriculum. The programme looks at foundations in relationships, the core components and positive long term commitment enabling young people to explore what a healthy relationship really is. We have received really positive feedback from the Swindon Healthy Schools Team regarding the project. Our work in schools is the foundation of what we do at SYFC. The team recently attended the IMAGINE conference where we not only explored further our calling to and involvement in schools based ministry but had the opportunity to be commissioned alongside 140 workers from right across the country for the year ahead. The day concluded with Jill Rowe from Oasis challenging us to be active in changing students stories. The day was fantastically thought provoking and gave us the space to dream about what we could imagine for this year. Our stories and what happens in our work is limited by one thing - our IMAGINEation. In Swindon our dream is that through our schools work young people would hear and come to know God’s story and realise that they too can be a part of this story. From there anything can happen as God works in their lives and leads them into His new reality.

Fort Rocky Residential “The Best Weekend of Your Year” On Friday the 21st October Luella and Amy had the privilege of taking nine young people away to Fort Rocky. This was an exciting weekend away which was jam packed full with activities from areoball and the trapeze to canoeing and abseiling! The rest of the programme included five roadshows which gave the team a great opportunity to present the gospel in a very real and clear way. During the Saturday night roadshow young people were given a chance to respond to the gospel and anyone who had responded or who wanted to find out more were asked to stay in the roadshow room. Three of our young people choose to stay and talk to us further about what they had heard and one boy said that he had decided to follow Jesus. The young people that we took with us really enjoyed the weekend, one boy said :

‘I don’t want to ever go home it’s the best weekend ever!’ The whole weekend was an amazing opportunity for SYFC to be able to build on the relationships that they already have with these young people. Please pray for the nine young people that we took with us and that as we see them week by week we will be able to build on what they have heard over the weekend.

THANK YOU SAS £5 Challenge Young people from SAS at St John’s, Haydon Wick took part in our £5 Challenge, and here is how they got on: For the £5 challenge we washed cars, held a quiz night and had a cake sale raising £267.10p for Swindon Youth for Christ. We really wanted to run a quiz night but in order to do so we needed more than £5, therefore, we first washed cars to raise some money to run the quiz. Around 40 people came to the quiz which consisted of 8 rounds, some were standard questions but we also had an observational drama and a round involving playdough! At the interval we sold jacket potatoes and burgers as well as homemade cakes and drinks. There was also face painting for the younger kids (and those who felt they were!). We really enjoyed running the event and those who came along to take part said they really enjoyed it too. SYFC Curry Night We held a successful fundraising curry at the Bombay Lounge in Peatmoor in October. 37 people; friends and SYFC partners came along and made it a wonderful evening. The food was fantastic and we want to thank all the staff at the Bombay Lounge for looking after us and making us so welcome. An impressive £260 was raised towards the work of SYFC. Easyfundraising Shopping online this Christmas? why not shop via and help us raise funds at no extra cost to you, whilst you shop. Simply go on to choose Swindon Youth for Christ as your charity and start shopping the retails will then give us a small percentage of the total cost of your shopping with them, it couldn’t be easier! Supporting BIOS In September Carol Ratcliffe ran The Great North Run to raise funds for the young people supported by the BIOS project. A team of 6 riders also took part in the annual ‘ride and stride’ event and in 6 hours visited 28 churches, covered 35 miles and raised over £200 for the work of BIOS. A huge thank you to everyone who is supporting the work of SYFC by ‘Doing Something Simple’, the question is... what could you do?

A supporters letter Since the 60th celebrations I have been thinking back to when our son was a teenager. I have been a member of Dorcan Church for about 32 yrs and there has always been a youth group. My involvement began when I was asked to help a girls group that wanted to do crafts whilst finding out about Christianity. Our activities were a varied mix of learning, crafts and fun, we also took them on outings and away for a Fort Rocky residential! At the time SYFC put on several events that we took the girls to and usually a group of boys as well! Later SYFC launched ‘The Gap’ and several youngsters found that really helpful at a time when they were not comfortable with ‘normal church’. Out of the group I would say at least 50% are still Christians, 2 are ordained ministers and many are workers in Christian organisations. The work of SYFC is so important as it gives young people role models to look up to and people who take the time to listen and take an interest in their questions and problems. Events like Impact are so important because they are geared to the young people and they will remember these events for a long time. I and others are grateful that SYFC were around then and I am so pleased it is still working today, growing and moving forward to meet the needs of young people. - Elizabeth Hogg


The work of SYFC is only made possible by the amazing SPONSOR SOMETHING - £25 per month enables us to run generosity of individuals and churches like yourselves. 1 School Lunchclub or 1 RE or LUSH lesson or 1 set of Assemblies or Could you consider investing in the future ministry of SYFC? 1 Rock Solid Club or 1 support session with a young person in crisis. Why not choose a specific event to sponsor and pray for? Perhaps you could consider becoming a monthly financial partner or send a special one-off gift now, to help us Or Do Something Simple for SYFC and commit to sending us just £5 develop the work over the coming months. on month. This may be simple but has significant impact on our work. All you need to do is ask us for a Standing Order Form and Visit or call 01793 829795 for a standing order form. return it to the freepost address and if you are a tax payer Thank you we can claim 20% of the sum donated back from HMRC.


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PLEASE SEND YOUR COMPLETED FORM TO: SYFC, FREEPOST SCE 15917, SWINDON SN2 1BR. THANKYOU. excellent idea for helping us to engage young people with the gospel and the life of the church.”

In September church leaders from around Swindon gathered for the launch of the Swindon Churches Youth Work Charter. The charter, developed by Swindon Youth for Christ calls on churches across the town to make 7 commitments to engaging in mission to young people. Churches who sign the charter will commit to; welcoming young people into their church community, recognising the God given value of each and every young person, involving young people in the life of their church, discipling and caring for young people, praying for their local schools, exploring ways that they can reach out to and work with young people and connecting with the wide ranging schools based ministry of SYFC. “This is an exciting time for youth ministry here in Swindon” said Rev. Chris Priddy, Centre Director of SYFC, “we hope that the charter, as it is outworked in churches will create a new era of unified mission to young people. Our heart is that the churches of our town will be filled with young people longing to know more about the God who fathers and loves them.” The Rt Revd Dr Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon said, “this is an

One local church has already grasped the vision of the charter and has developed links with their local schools leading assemblies and a lunchtime evangelistic club, they have started a Sunday morning discipleship group and begun talking to the other churches in their area about the possibility of working together to start a youth drop in venue for the young people in their community. “I’m hopeful every church will get behind the Swindon Churches Youth Work Charter. Not simply to support the valuable contribution that Swindon Youth for Christ are making to the churches across Swindon, but also because acting upon this Charter will prove a means of God’s blessing in every fellowship.” Rev. Nigel Coles – Senior Regional Minister, West of England Baptist Association For further information about the charter and how your church can be involved visit :

Introducing Josie Bowd

Supporting SYFC

I became involved with SYFC as a teenager in the early sixties having been born and brought up in Swindon. It was my first experience of meeting Christian young people from all denominations in the town. We met monthly at Drove School for what would be seen now as a very formal church service! By 1967 SYFC had a brand new initiative in Coffee Bar Outreach in the town centre. I was involved with my then fiancé (now my husband!) in running this project and it was very successful in getting young people off the streets to listen to top Gospel bands, hear the Gospel message and receive counselling and follow up. By the early 1970’s my husband and I were serving on the SYFC exec and the work was expanding across the town. With the birth of our 3 children, and development of our separate careers, involvement with SYFC diminished and we became more involved in youth work in our own Elim church. By 1989, after studying at home for a Law degree and various secretarial teaching posts, I was employed at Swindon College as a full time Law lecturer. This opened up opportunities to get involved with the CU there, which SYFC was helping to run, the College allowed high profile input from SYFC in A level induction programmes, and we ran a few lunch time concerts - one particularly successful one with “Heartbeat” and Sue Rinaldi. I was also able to act in an advisory capacity to the Trustees on legal matters. I retired in 2001, but by 2002 was office secretary at Freshbrook Evangelical Church, (we have been members for 20 years), a post which continued until 2008. I have now “properly retired” but feel my role as a prayer partner and as a member of the Council of Reference is a new, important step in God’s service.

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SYFC Newsletter Autumn 2011  

SYFC Newsletter Autumn 2011

SYFC Newsletter Autumn 2011  

SYFC Newsletter Autumn 2011