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Taking Good News to young people in Swindon since 1950

Spring 2014


Registered Charity no. 274402

in:School INSPIRE Conference a Huge Success

The in:School project joined the SYFC family in 2012. The heart of the in:School project is to encourage and equip churches to reach out and serve their local primary schools, making Jesus known to the children in ways that are fun, exciting and relevant. On Wednesday 29th January in:School hosted the INSP!RE schools work conference at Gateway Church, Swindon - an idea that Abi Corry designed and developed to support and help people from Swindon and the surrounding area. Just over 60 people attended from all over Swindon and further afield to explore the ways in which we as churches can connect with and serve their local primary schools. The whole event had a ‘terrific buzz’ to it with people being able to learn, share, inspire and network with each other. As people arrived there were a number of stands that people could browse at, collecting ideas, resources and inspiration. These included Open the Book, SYFC, Scripture Union, Bristol Diocese, REinspired and Prayer Spaces in Schools. The event kicked of with looking at the importance of schools work, the opportunities that exist and what our attitude, approach and motivation should be. We then went onto explore the many practical ways in which we can be connecting with our local primary schools. This was done through six separate seminars focusing on Assemblies, The RE curriculum, Prayer Spaces, practical ways of bringing the church building to life through Festival workshops and church visits, children and their different learning styles and hearing directly from a Head teacher and RE coordinator to find out what they want, need and appreciate from the church. The feedback we received about the seminars and speakers was really positive with many saying that they found the sessions useful and someone make the comment that ‘All speakers were excellent role models for their seminars, the whole morning tone was enthusiastic and humble’. After the seminars took place we all gathered back together for a question and answer session of which there were some fantastic and thought provoking questions. This mainly brought to the forefront of our minds how we tackle answering those BIG and often challenging questions that children so often have and ask about faith in sensitive and ‘It has widened my understanding of appropriate ways without us crossing the line. The speakers on the panel were able to offer some real what is possible in links with schools’ wisdom in this area. ‘Teachers really do want us to go in and help’ The event was a real success with people going away feeling encouraged and inspired and seeing value in in:school running another INSP!RE conference sometime in the future ‘The whole event was really valuable’ “There was a real buzz, with people being inspired, making links and sharing their gifts and enthusiasm. Thank you so much for making it happen!”

2014 : Director’s Notes As you read this newsletter my prayer is very simple; that you would join with us in rejoicing in all the amazing work that God is doing through the team at Swindon Youth for Christ. Our work continues to expand and this newsletter can only provide a small glimpse into the 24-7 world of SYFC. I hope that you will pray for us each day as we serve the Churches of Swindon seeking to meet young people where they are and share the Christian Faith, the Good News of Jesus with them. I also hope that you will feel challenged to respond and to stand with us financially, to be a part of what SYFC is doing by supporting us in this way. Your donation, however small or large is vital to our ability to continue this work and is a real demonstration of your belief in what we do, our mission and in the young people of Swindon. Thank you for your support, your prayers and your generosity.

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

BIOS Van Update

We’ve launched a new website and it was featured in March’s National Youth Work magazine!

Back in August 2013 BIOS was awarded a Police and Crime Commissioners Innovation Fund Award of £63,500 to build and run a mobile youth club for Swindon. In October SYFC advertised the position for the BIOS Van driver and Lead Youth Worker and after interviewing four candidates we are happy to announce that Amy Cox was offered and accepted this new role! We asked Amy a few questions: Why did you apply for the job? I applied because I am really passionate about young people and the benefits of doing detached youth work (meeting the young people where they are) and I wanted to get involved with a new project that seeks to engage with young people. Where will the van run sessions? We are hoping to run sessions in several schools at lunchtimes and have secured a lunchtime in both Swindon Academy and Isambard School, we will also be running afterschool sessions and evening sessions in Parks, North Swindon, Pinehurst, Moredon, Wichelstowe, Chiseldon, Meadowcroft and Highworth. What are you most excited about? I am really excited for it all to start, for the van to be finished and for us to be using it to run sessions. I am sure that it will be a hit with young people and I am so excited to use this vehicle as a youth work tool to help meet young people, build relationships with them and support them in making positive life choices. How will the van be used to positively impact young people’s lives? The van will have shutter sides that can be put up so that young people can play with games consoles and ipads, we will provide sports equipment, hot chocolate, music, internet access, crafts, games and other activities. Throughout all of these activities the aim of the youth workers present is to engage with the young people, this might be through a game on the xbox or through football. As the youth workers build relationships with the young people, conversations develop and it is through these relationships and conversations that youth workers are able to empower, encourage and enable young people to make positive life choices.

2 Year 10 students rushed into the secondary school classroom where our Christian lunchtime club was running. “We can’t stay today” they said, “we’ve got maths exams next, can you pray for us….now”. So we stood, in an English classroom, with 2 un-churched, non Christian lads and prayed for their exams. “It worked” they said the following week, “we did fine”. In the conversations that followed back in the SYFC offices was born. On the site young people are asked to simply enter their first name (optional) and a brief description of the exams they would like prayer for. A Prayer Volunteer then logs into the secure website and prays for that person as they sit their exams. “It’s a really simple idea”, said Chris Priddy, director of SwindonYFC, “yet as a group of Christian Youth Workers who believe in the power of prayer it holds the potential to make a significant impact in the lives of young people during a significantly stressful time of their lives.” The site can be used confidentially by any young person who would value prayer support for the exams they are sitting, whatever those exams may be. Youth groups, colleges or churches can also have their own customised mini-site set up by solely for use by their group and their own prayer volunteers. Why not have a browse and perhaps get a site setup for your church youth group.

How is the building of the van going? It looks amazing! I love visiting it and imagining the possibilities that it will bring with it. Whilst there have been a few issues with parts not turning up or turning up broken which have caused some delay the van is definitely on its way up and we hope that it will be completed and out on the streets of Swindon at the start of March. Is there any way that people can help you with this exciting new venture? Yes! I would love people to join me in prayer, prayer for myself, prayer for the team and most importantly prayer for the young people that we will be working with. Also we would love for you to be a part of this exciting new project, if you would like to volunteer with BIOS on the van or would like to hear more about ways that you can get involved please do email me at






IF ‘YES’ THEN WE NEED YOU... Parks : Monday Afternoon North Swindon : Monday Evenings Moredon : Wednesday Afternoon Wichlestowe : Wednesday Afternoon

Chiseldon : Wednesday Evenings Penhill : Thursday Evenings Highworth : Friday Evenings + Other locations too....

Contact : 01793 829795

SchoolsWork - LUSH Relationships Education

We have so much to be thankful for, so many opportunities which have been arising in schools across the town. We are in 10 secondary schools a week which is testament to the hard working team of youth workers and volunteers that we have here at SYFC. This year we have seen an increase in the amount of times we deliver our LUSH relationships programme aimed at 13/14 year olds across the town with scope to grow this even further in the future. So far this year we have taught over 500 people the importance of building healthy relationships born out of having respect for the other person, having a reason for the choices you make together in a relationship and finally to relax and not succumb to the peer pressure that surrounds them. Within this programme we try and tackle a lot of issues relating to relationships such as, what foundational qualities do I want in a relationship, what is cool and not cool, and when things should happening relationship. Our final session is also then focussed on long-term committed relationships and marriage looking at what promises would you make to another person. We keep up to date with current guidelines from ofsted and the government which has lead us to re-write the programme to include the issues of sexting and pornography. In researching the statistics behind this, I was amazed that the average age of first exposure to pornographic material is 11. 11! For me, it symbolises just how prevalent this issue is. Young people are turning to pornographic material not just for pleasure but for their sexual education as they are not receiving this from elsewhere. Someone needs to be talking about and addressing this - so we make sure we do. We talk about how the pornography isn’t a true representation of real relationships, average people don’t look like those in pornography, average people don’t want to act or do things that they see in pornography and it feeds their young brains a whole web of lies. How do they know they are lies, unless someone tells them? We want to communicate to all those in these LUSH lessons that they are unique, valued and deserve good, positive relationships and strive to give them the skills and confidence to do this. Two thirds of the schools that we deliver LUSH in have asked us to deliver further sessions for other school years to promote good, healthy relationships. Please continue to pray for us in the delivery of this resource and for further opportunities to open up across the town.


Park South Youth Club Back in September SYFC took over the running of a youth club in Park South, since then we have had over 40 different young people attend. Many of these young people are in years 9 and 10 at school and unfortunately many of these young people are known to the police. At youthie the young people are able to engage with activities such as pool, table football, games on the playstation and the wii, the nail bar and the art and craft table; through these activities the team are able to engage in conversation with the young people and many relationships have started over a game of pool or through the painting of a young person’s nails. Some weeks we have been able to positively engage with the young people discussing topics such as drugs, alcohol, school, friendship and rules. Other weeks we have had to close the youth club early due to drug issues, vandalism, criminal damage and threatening behaviour. We as a team have found it really hard at times as we want to work with these young people and help them make positive life choices but we also need to show them that their actions do in fact have consequences. Earlier this year we did have some issues with young people who had taken drugs, so we closed immediately and informed the police, the young people were sat outside at the bus stop so we went outside and chatted to them. This enabled the team to engage with the young people outside of the centre and discuss with them how actions have consequences, what the laws are on cannabis, the negatives of drug use and other topics. For me personally this was the best conversation that I have had with these particular young people, even though we had to close early I think that the discussions that we were able to have with these young people afterwards were extremely worthwhile. It’s after evenings such as this one that I feel the young people really need someone to talk to, someone who will listen to them, explain to them what the law actually says, encourage them and ultimately empower and enable them to make positive life choices. For me this is what my job is all about, according to some research the Princes Trust carried out in 2013, 1 in 10 young people feel unable to cope with everyday life and 19% of young people feel they have no hope in life. Every day I have the privilege of meeting with these young people, sometimes these young people shout abuse at me, threaten me, spit at me and damage property and equipment around me, it’s not nice, it’s not comfortable but I firmly believe that God has called me to be uncomfortable for him.

Wichelstowe Youthie!

Hi my name is Emily. I am a CYM student placed at the Stowe Church in Swindon. I also work in the schools alongside SYFC running lunchtime clubs in Ridgeway and Commonweal Schools. In October we started a Youth club for young people in Yr6- Yr12 – Wichlestowe Youthie. Wichlestowe is a relatively new housing estate and life has been hard for some of the young people here; nothing to do and being blamed for everything that goes wrong on the estate can leave lots of them feeling victimised. So when we gathered the young people together to gather they had lots of ideas about the type of youth club they wanted…..we just had to wait for the Community Centre to be built! The day came when we opened up for the first night. Unsure how many young people would turn up we waited, I couldn’t believe it when 7 young people came along - It was a great success. Since that first night we have grown from 7 to 18 young people attending! We have a pool table, tuck shop x-box and table tennis. We have not had any bad incidents and the young people treat their Youthie with the utmost respect.

Christmas Presented

Over Christmas we spent 2 weeks visually exploring the Christmas story with students in the corridor of Swindon Academy with lots of positive comments from and interesting conversations with, students and staff. One student commented: “I was sat at home last night thinking about it and I realised, it’s about Jesus”. A teacher also emailed us to say “I just wanted to say how great the changing advent display was, myself and a student spent a lot of one lunchtime discussing what the next days would be and the previous days displays.” On the last day of the installations the head teacher also approached us and said how excellent and beneficial the project had been.

One young person in particular has grown so much in just a term. Going from being the one that is most complained about and almost being asked to leave the local Youth theatre. He is now the rule enforcer of our Youthie and has a singing part in the next Youth theatre production. Seeing this growth is truly a blessing and I am very excited to see what is to come in the next year, including a residential trip to Pencelli in July!

SchoolsWork - Lunchtime and Afterschool Clubs

Over the course of a week we run seven ChatRooms (lunchclubs) and two Rock Solid clubs (afterschool clubs). These are sessions that young people voluntarily come to filled with questions, games, prizes and a talk/discussion about God linked to a relevant theme. Here are a few stories from the team about these clubs which have happened in the last two weeks: Amy - Since Christmas at Rock Solid we have covered topics such as authority, empathy, freewill, and recently I planned one on the theme on identity. Whilst delivering this at one school I had the immense privilege of being able to sit down with six young people and share with them how truly amazing every single one of them is and how they were designed and created by an incredible God who loves them, cares for them and longs to have a relationship with each one of them. Please pray that this will spark conversations that the team will be able to continue with the young people. Joanne - Recently I had the opportunity for a 1 to 1 conversation with a young person. He started the conversation by talking about the Yin Yang symbol saying he believes in complementary forces, the necessity of balance. From this I went on and talked about Jesus and the fact that I and Christians as a whole worship God/ Jesus and have the promise of redemption through Jesus dying and rising again, not through being great people but by realising we are sinners. We also spoke about Jesus’ claim that ‘I am the way the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except through me’. I told him He can believe what He wants and live like he wants as we are given the freedom to do so. I felt blessed for this opportunity as it says in the Bible to ‘make the most of every opportunity’. Nathan – A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to share who we are and what we believe in one of the lunch clubs I run. I got in a conversation with one girl and I told her that I went to church in her area and that someone else from their school goes to the same church. Since then, her and her family have started coming to church for the first time and she wants join our church youth group. These are just three stories which have happened in the last two weeks. Please stand with us in thanking God for all the opportunities and the numerous similar conversations we have throughout other points in the year.

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Christmas Unwrapped Christmas Unwrapped is a fantastic opportunity for children to experience the events of the Christmas story through small group rotation learning which includes storytelling, fun activities and reflective thinking. In December, Christmas Unwrapped was delivered by churches, in:School and SYFC to at least 9 schools and over 350 children! A parent helper that attended one of the workshops described the church as being the ‘perfect setting’ for these festive workshops and a teacher at another school thought it was ‘wonderful that so many people from the church have given their time to bring the Christmas story alive’ We also presented Christmas Unwrapped to all the pupils that attend Uplands School. Uplands is a purpose built secondary special school for students who have severe or profound multiple learning difficulties. Some of the students have additional needs such as sensory impairment, physical disability or autism. Over the course of a day, through four sessions we were able to deliver the Christmas story to around 115 pupils. We received great feedback about the workshop but the biggest compliment is that the school have asked for something similar at Easter.

YFCone Updates We asked our YFC gap year team what they’ve been enjoying recently: Joanne Millar - I really loved February’s IMPACT, it was awesome because I was given the opportunity to play guitar as well as sing in the worship band. It showed just how much I had grown in the past year through opportunities my church placement had given me to grow in my musical and leadership abilities. I was also given the opportunity to sing at the front of church last Sunday morning; this encouraged me greatly as it was great to be able to serve the church in this way. The move from my first year here to my second has been really good and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to step up and develop further in all that God has called me to. I love worshipping, I love serving the church and I love sharing my faith with the young people I meet every week. Nathan O’Neill - One highlight of my week is always the Bradon Forest ChatRoom lunchtime club. The year began with the launch of this club which at that time had no young people attending because it was so new. We decided to spend one lunchtime in the school playground to advertise the clubs launch and the following week 18 young people came! We now have a fantastic regular group attending the club who get totally involved in all discussions and games. They even prepared a quiz for us, to see if we had been listening to what they have been telling us about themselves! Another highlight of recent months was one week when Rock Solid had just finished at Nova Hreod. The young people stayed behind and were asking us loads of questions about what we believe and what church is about. They then proceeded to tell us what they believe and we were able to share really openly with them about all aspects of our faith. Emma Cordiner - The thing I enjoy most is running the lunchtime clubs in each school. Its great fun playing games and getting the young people to think about the faith related subject of the club each week. It’s a great way of getting to know the young people and discussing a variety of topics with them.


One evening recently at the youth club that we run in Park South Community Centre I went and sat down at the arts and crafts table with a few of the girls and got chatting to them. One of them told me that her favourite animals were giraffes, she was getting frustrated as she struggled to draw one. I then offered to draw one for her and even though I knew I was rubbish at drawing, I managed to draw a giraffe on canvas and colour it in. It made me happy to see how pleased she was with the drawing and she took it home with a smile on her face! Sometimes it’s the little ways that we show love, care and kindness to young people that makes a significant impact. The work of SYFC is only made possible by the amazing COULD YOU SPONSOR SOMETHING? generosity of churches and individuals like yourselves. £25 per month enables us to run Could you consider investing in the future ministry of SYFC? 1 School Lunchclub or 1 RE or LUSH lesson or 1 set of Assemblies or Perhaps you could consider becoming a monthly financial 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? partner or send a special one-off gift now, to help us develop the work over the coming months. Or could you commit to sending us just £5 or £10 a month. All you need to do is ask us for a Standing Order Form and Every amount donated makes a significant impact on our work. return it to our freepost address and if you are a tax payer Visit to donate online, we can claim 20% of the sum donated back from HMRC. or call 01793 829795 to request a standing order form.

SYFC Newsletter Spring 2014  
SYFC Newsletter Spring 2014  

SYFC Newsletter Spring 2014