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

Summer 2011


Registered Charity no. 274402

‘Summer is here!’

Hello Rob Burns

Some notes from our director Chris Priddy:

Transformation in the life of a BIOS Volunteer Youth Worker

We’ve had an incredible spring season here at Swindon YFC and I hope that you really enjoy reading all about how God has been using us and about some exciting things that are coming up. Thank you once again for upholding us with your ongoing prayers and support. Please Pray for Laura Following interviews in April we have appointed Laura Rawson as our new Assistant Youth Chaplain to the Pinehurst Estate, a role funded by the Diocese of Bristol. Laura moves to Swindon and starts her role in September, so please start praying for her and the impact she is going to have on the Pinehurst estate - we’ll introduce her properly in the next newsletter! Meet the Director Days! I’ve been in post as Centre Director of SYFC for 6 months now and whilst I have met lots of our partners and supporters there are lots of you who I am yet to find! We are also about to start looking to the future and developing our strategy for Sept 2011 onwards. I am therefore inviting you all to pop into the office, say hello, have a cup of coffee and provide your thoughts, prayers and input into our new strategy. July 20th 10am - 8pm August 22nd 10am - 8pm Please drop in anytime on the above days as I would love to meet you and hear your thoughts and visions for the future work of SYFC. The Mix Community Arts Festival SYFC were proud to be involved in supporting this event organised by the West Swindon and Lydiards Church Partnership. SYFC ran the SoulSpace Tent and engaged over 75 people of all ages in our creative prayer and reflective art activities. The weather was great and we had a fantastic time.

transformed my life, and given me new life in Him.

At USBC I met Chris Priddy, who was the Youth Minister My troubles with school began when I there. I asked Chris was aged 13, as it was at this time I started smoking cannabis. I started skipping school if I could start on a regular basis and generally did not care volunteering with that my results were slipping, even though I oZone Youth Club and he was happy for me was capable of getting them back up. I also to come on board. I found youth work to be stopped doing coursework that was set for enjoyable, challenging and rewarding, even though I was doing it without getting paid! me, and this had a big affect on my overall GCSE exam results which were poor to say I found out that Swindon College ran an the least. NVQ level 2 in Youth Work, and it was suggested to me that if I wanted to take my I left school aged 16 and over the next 8 studies on past the NVQ then I should retake years I worked as a glass collector in a bar, my Maths and English GCSE’s, because a grounds man at a sports club, a wedding nobody would pay much attention to the planner, a barman, a warehouse operative D’s that I had achieved at School. I took the and a labourer on a building site, among advice and started the GCSE courses and various short term agency jobs. the NVQ in September 2010. From 21-24 my life was a whirlwind of Whilst doing the NVQ I have been gaining alcohol and drugs. Finally, I was referred experience by doing my weekly youth work to the ‘Swindon and Wiltshire Alcohol placement with BIOS, SYFC’s pastoral care and Drug Services.’ I started going to daily project. During my time with BIOS, I have meetings at SWADS, although I feel they gained experience in pre-exclusion schools didn’t help too much. work, delivering PHSE sessions, detached Around this time a leaflet came through the youth work and youth club youth work. door from Upper Stratton Baptist Church, Since getting involved in youth work, my advertising the fact that it was Easter and that I was more than welcome to join them life has gone from having no direction, to having a very clear goal and very real in celebrating the death and resurrection aspirations. I could never have achieved of Jesus on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I’d been this without the support and opportunities thinking about Christianity given to me by SYFC. I am now hoping to start a degree in Youth Work and Theology for a while and decided to in September as God leads me forward, go to the service. I didn’t really expect great things to revealing his plans for my life to me. happen, but I can honestly say that I met God that weekend and he has totally

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

BIOS - Pastoral Care in the Park ! One of the exciting projects that BIOS have recently been involved in is running detached youth work sessions focused around Meadowcroft and Grange Parks in Stratton. What started over 2 years ago with a couple of guys from a local church going to play some basketball and being asked by the young people hanging about there if they wanted a game has grown and developed into a fantastic and growing project supported by the Parish Council and the Youth Service, working with an average of 30 young people each week. BIOS staff in partnership with SYFC, spend around 2 hours each week in the parks engaging young people age 10-25. Over the time which we have been doing this we have had many positive interactions where we have been able to offer more than just a fun and safe environment. We have been able to explore faith and life issues, give support and advice on subjects ranging from family break up, conflict resolution, sex and relationships as well as drug and alcohol issues. Six of the young people BIOS staff are now supporting or mentoring in schools we first encountered through this detached project. Paul, one of the young people we are most heavily involved with through this work was recently assaulted and BIOS was able to offer, in the first instance crisis care to make sure that both he and the family were supported and then from this we were able to discuss in more depth his thoughts and feelings surrounding the incident and help the young person chose a positive way forward following the attack. We first met Paul over 2 years ago when the detached project first started, and have met with him almost weekly since then. Even when the park was covered in snow Paul and his friends would be out, sat on ‘their’ bench, chilling. Over time Paul opened up and shared about things at home and school and it was clear that this was a young person who was close to not fulfilling his full potential. It was during last summer when we were working in partnership with the ‘Boom Box’ mobile music van that Paul showcased some of his musical talent for us. Following this we took a microphone and portable speaker to the park and over the weeks that followed Paul would ‘spit’ his lyrics and he became more involved and interested in music production. This has now led to him recording his own tracks and making a video, as well as producing music for other local young artists. Alongside encouraging Paul with this BIOS has been offering him mentoring through the school and undertaking family support with home visits. It is this kind of situation that typifies the type of support that BIOS aims to offer to young people that we meet.


Having heard of the fantastic work that SYFC do, I was extremely excited to be to able work alongside the team during my work experience placement. Day 1 was like the first day of school. I was worried about whether I would fit in, whether the staff would like me and I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect but as soon as I walked through the doors of the office, I could see that I would really enjoy my week here. When I met the SYFC staff, I really started to feel like I was one of the family and part of the team. Working in schools I helped run assemblies, lunchclubs and after school clubs. The schools I visited all opened my eyes to how dedicated and hard working teachers and youth workers are. Whilst working alongside the pro’s, I began to realise how much work goes into preparing and delivering lessons and sessions. In lessons I worked with students with behaviour and confidence issues. I was able to see these people from a completely new perspective and be a part of the process of helping them to grow their self confidence and challenging their disruptive behaviour. This was possibly the best work placement I could ever have chosen; I was able to laugh and work with some really great people and I feel I was able to be help make the world a better place, one that is more focused on God’s Kingdom. I feel that my placement was a divine appointment and if I’m allowed to, I definitely want to come back.


We would like to invite you and all your friends, neighbours, colleagues and acquittances to a SYFC Fundaaising Curry night!

October 10th 2011 7:30pm Bombay Lounge Indian Restaurant, Peatmoor £12.50 per person (drinks not included) All you can eat buffet and a short presentation about the work of SYFC. Book your places today by contacting the office or emailing


We recently had the privilege of taking a year 9 RE lesson in Churchfields School looking at the Christian perspective on the issue of racism. The class engaged so fantastically in the topic and surrounding discussions that we didn’t finish our lesson plan and the teacher invited us back to answer more of the students questions. It was great to share with the students about the fact that God created us all and loves us all equally and also brilliant to be able to show the students how to look up passages in the bible and find the right bit as many of them have never opened a bible before!

Pray For Schools On Monday 23rd May we gathered for an inspirational evening of hearing stories about work going on in primary and secondary schools across the town. We were not only inspired and motivated by these reports but also by the many prayer requests that we had received from both staff and pupils from schools we work in. I was bowled over when one lady came in from a local primary school and gave me a handful of paper, these were the prayers and requests from just one year group in her school. Then as I began to read them they broke my heart, there was so much pain and suffering written out on those pages, here is just one... “Please pray for my mum’s friend because she has died last week on Friday because she was an alcoholic and she only had till Sunday to live. But she had to have her children taken off of her because she was an alcoholic and now the children have to live with foster parents!” Just how many lives have been shattered in this one story? There were many other requests asking for prayer for brothers, sisters, friends, relatives suffering from cancer and other terminal illnesses. There were cries for help : ‘I want people to start being nice to me’ girl 13. Young people asking for help with the pressure of exams, or of being a young people in today’s world, requests from staff facing redundancy and other difficult choices and decisions. There were also prayers of thanks like this one from Jade ‘Please pray for my mum and dad for what they go through to make my life amazing’! There was total silence for over ½ hour whilst we individually prayed into the situations before us, pleading with God, asking him to bring light into some dark places. We ended the evening by corporately offering thanks, praise and petitions to God and praying for all those who work in or with Swindon’s Schools. If you would like to find out more about praying for your local school please contact us on 01793 829795 or visit

SCHOOLSWORK UPDATE We continue to be really busy in schools right across the town delivering our weekly lunch time and after school clubs, pre-exclusion work, RE lessons and detached work in school playgrounds.

We also have the amazing privilege of working in some of the special needs secondary schools in Swindon.

The SYFC team work in Crowdy’s Hill twice a month delivering regular assemblies on a range of topics such as Harvest, Respect, Family, Easter, The team have also had the privilege of delivering assemblies in Crowdy’s, Kingsdown and Nova Hreod on themes such as Respect, Morals Love and Inspirational lives. These give the young people a chance to be actively involved in the assemblies whether it’s upfront or cheering on and Compassion. and supporting a class mate! Our LUSH programme is now coming to an end for the year in Greendown We have recently been involved in Uplands School too. At the end of School, but we have had some great lessons and conversations with April, we provided and ran six workshops for an RE day. The day was the year 9 pupils about topics such as the importance of healthy focussed around ‘Easter’ covering the main events of the Easter story. relationships, marriage, sexual health, and dating. Each group made a prop for their freeze frame story, and we took photos to later tell the Easter story through the pictures during an assembly at Luella and Brendan have been involved in taking a group of Year 11 the end of the school day. It was a great day to work with young people XL students to South Cerney Outdoor Education Centre for a 3-day with a range of abilities and backgrounds and share the real meaning of residential. The young people were involved in a variety of activities Easter with them. such as Rafting, Sailing, Kayaking, and Archery. It was great to see young people who had never had the opportunity to experience anything like Chris also had the honour of joining with this before, or those young people who were shy and lacked confidence, Uplands to dedicate and bless having a go at all of the activities, overcoming fears, learning new skills their new Memorial Garden. This and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. The residential also meant was a really special occasion for that we could get to know the young people on a deeper level and we all the students who have helped had some great conversations about life, God and issues affecting them! to fundraise and build the garden They were all also really interested in Brendan’s Icthus tattoo (see our which is a truly special place for last newsletter) and asking lots of questions about God and the Christian the whole school community. faith which Brendan was able to talk with them about.

Fort Rocky Residential The Best Weekend of Your Year We are really excited about the forthcoming weekend residential ‘Fort Rocky’ planned for late October. The weekend is truly fantastic and we’ve invited all the 11-14 year olds who attend our lunchtime and Rock Solid clubs to come with us. The weekend is being held at the PGL Centre in Liddington and features a range of outdoor activities such as climbing, rafting, archery and kayaking. There will also be opportunities for the young people to hear testimonies from leaders, play games, take part in challenges and discuss what they believe with time and space for them to respond to what they hear. We would love for all the young people who want to attend this amazing residential to be able to do so, however there are some young people who may not be able to due to financial constraints. If you would like to help young people participate in this weekend away, would you consider sponsoring a young person for £25 to contribute to the overall cost. Please send your sponsorship to the office and we’ll send you information about how you can support that sponsored young person in prayer. If you are interested in bringing your youth group to Fort Rocky with us then give us a call for all the juicy details - the more young people, the merrier!

Rock Solid 3:16 Over the past term at our Rock Solid afterschool club we have been looking at a number of themes which have sparked lots and lots of questions from the young people and they have been eager to discover and learn more about God. Recently during one of the sessions we shared John 3:16 with the young people and talked about what it meant for us as Christians. For many of them this was the first time they had ever heard this powerful and gospel centric verse. The following week, when we started the club we asked if anyone could remember some or all of the verse we talked about the previous week? A 12 year old boy who had only started attending Rock Solid the week before put his hand up. Although hesitant, when asked he said ‘ Was it something like, For God loved us so much that He sent Jesus so we won’t perish but have eternal life!’ We were completely overwhelmed and amazed by this - the fact that a young person that has never heard this verse or the Gospel before could remember the crux of the verse, and on only his second time at the club! After this the the rest of the young people wanted to have a go at saying the verse. One young person told us the next week that he had written it on his hand so that he could use it in RE! Please keep praying for this group - God is at work in their lives!

GOODBYE... What an amazing time it’s been, working, learning, teaching and serving at SYFC; full of incredible and unexpected opportunities. I have led discussions about suffering, fear, power and weakness in school lessons, spoken in assemblies and had conversations about ducks, the creation of the world and the existence of God whilst walking around school playgrounds. Whilst I’ve only been here 6 months I’ve had so many fantastic experiences. When I get back to Aus I’ll definitely still be reeling about all the lunchclubs and youth groups that I’ve been a part of and all the conversations that I’ve had with the young people I’ve met. Next year when I’m at University in Bendigo studying Outdoor Recreation Education I know that I’ll still be remembering moments from assemblies and presentations that I’ve done and all of the questions about my Icthus fish tattoo. SYFC and my host family have been really supportive especially when my Grandpa passed away earlier this year and they were right there for me if I needed to talk. So, weather aside it has been an indescribable experience, I’ve done more exciting things that I ever imagined and i’ll miss Swindon very much. Interested in a Gap Year? Check out

BREATHE NETWORK Are you a volunteer youth worker? The Breathe Network exists to support, equip, resource and bless the volunteer youth workers of Swindon. By joining the network you will receive regular information about resources, events and opportunities that will aid you in your ministry. You’ll also get an invite to an annual thank you evening where we’ll buy you a nice coffee or hot chocolate! Join the network at


The work of SYFC is only made possible by the amazing SPONSER 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 sponser 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 complete the form below and return Visit or call 01793 829795 for a standing order form. it to the freepost address and if you are a tax payer we can Thank you claim 20% of the sum donated back from the tax man.


Yes I would like to be kept informed about all the fantastic work of SYFC, please send me Newsletters, Updates and Emails. Name : ____________________________________________________________________________ Address : _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Email Address : ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Phone Number : _________________________________________ Church Attended : __________________________________ You can follow us on: PLEASE SEND YOUR COMPLETED FORM TO: SYFC, FREEPOST SCE 15917, SWINDON SN2 1BR. THANKYOU.

CELEBRATING 60 INCREDIBLE YEARS! On the 23rd March this year, staff, volunteers, young people, partners and church leaders came together to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Swindon Youth for Christ in style! Started in 1950 and open continuously since then Swindon is one of the longest running YFC centres in the country. National Director Gavin Calver joined the Swindon YFC team for the festivities which also coincided with the recent arrival of new Centre Director, Chris Priddy.

The day culminated in a fantastic evening celebration event for Christians of all ages from across the town, to celebrate and worship God for all that He has done in the lives of young people in Swindon.

‘‘I am simply amazed by the stories of transformation we are hearing in the lives of the young people.’’

The event also included an unexpectedly personal perspective to the centre’s work. At a point when stories and pictures of all that has happened over the past sixty years were being shared, an elderly gentleman put his hand up and asked to say something. He was invited to the stage and shared that 60 years ago he had given his life to Jesus at a YFC rally and that it was the best decision he had ever made.

The day included a gathering for church leaders, profiling Swindon YFC’s work, one church leader commented, ‘I never knew quite what a breadth of work you do. It’s fantastic.’ There followed an inspiring session for the SYFC Youth Having celebrated the past, the evening then looked to the future, with Forum, encouraging them to continue to staff and supporters of the centre alike challenged to pray that God would help shape the future work and focus do immeasurably more than ‘I never knew quite what a breadth of SYFC and a vision sharing they could ask or imagine session for the SYFC Exec and through Swindon YFC. of work you do. It’s fantastic.’ Council of Reference.

Supporting SYFC

Introducing Rev. Mark Barrett

Did you know you can support SYFC by:

Mark is the Superintendent Minister of the Swindon and Marlborough Methodist Circuit and has just joined the SYFC Council of Reference. Mark writes: “My awareness of the work of YFC began in the 1990’s when I was working with ‘Easter People’, who had asked YFC to manage it’s youth work. It was at a weekend planning meeting for that years Easter People and it’s future development that I met Roy Crowne. I was taken with the vision of YFC and it’s approach that transcended the denominationally based approach. YFC worked at Easter People for a number of years and over that time my initial impressions were confirmed. While in Cheltenham I came to know Paul Bennett, both in my role as a church leader, but also as CYFC worked in the school where my wife was Deputy Head, Kingsmead. The work of Paul and his team to the young people on that estate was literally a God send. On moving to Swindon I met Simon Halls through my wife, now associate Principal at the Academy, and was keen to learn more of SYFC’s work and so met with Simon. Last year I became superintendent of the Methodist circuit in Swindon and Marlborough. A number of our churches run youth work and we are keen to receive support and encouragement from SYFC and also to support them and work in partnership with them on some new and exciting projects. We ask God’s blessing on all we seek to do together.

Texting ‘SYFC00 £amount’ to 70070.

The text is free and SYFC receive 100% of your donation!

Donating online through our website.

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Giving us you old car using

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Selling unwanted items on Ebay and automatically

donating the profits to SYFC or asking you buyer to add a donation.

Shopping online using

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SYFC Newsletter Summer 2011  
SYFC Newsletter Summer 2011  

SYFC Newsletter Summer 2011