Catalyst is all about raising world-changers – those who make a difference to the world around them, from a single life to the direction of a nation. Every year, we provide a fund to launch and expand initiatives reaching the poorest and most marginalised people in our communities. Here’s a story of one such project in North Leeds, reaching out to their neighbours to tackle issues of unemployment, low confidence and isolation.
Partnering with Christians Against Poverty and renting a room from the local library, we run the Job Club with small groups of local people who soon became great friends with us and each other. We make it clear from the start that we are Christians, starting each session with a brief prayer. Individuals have also been very open to someone praying with them when appropriate, or an invitation to church.
One member, whom we shall call Simon, arrived on the first week with his head down, talking to our feet with little confidence to meet new people, after eighteen months of unsuccessful job search and multiple applications. Six weeks later he walked in a different person – eyes bright, with a huge smile on his face ready to share his brilliant news that he had secured a full-time position in the NHS, using his skills to make a positive impact in our city.
The transformation in Simon’s confidence and watching him develop friendships was a delight to see. Having people around him he could call friends, and accepting prayer each week from the Job Club team was the support he needed when he was about to lose all hope of finding work.
After spending most of his waking hours in job search, he now actually had more free time and when asked how he was going to use it he said: “Now I will have time to focus on my faith and investigate Christianity!” Simon has since attended an Alpha course and started reading his bible, finding that it has not only made him aware of his need for forgiveness but also pointed him to Jesus.
It has been great to help people clarify their aims and how they can achieve them – this does not always mean full-time paid employment. One woman, who had given up work ten years ago to care for a family member, wanted a change of direction from the work she’d done previously. With support from the Job Club she approached an organisation she really wanted to work for and has now secured a voluntary position with them as a stepping stone towards paid work.
The Job Club has been a very safe place for people to open up about other struggles. One member is now meeting up with two of the volunteers to read a Christian book about an issue she has identified in her life.
We’re learning so much about how God works in people’s lives and how we can be part of that. We are praying for those who join us to not only find work but to discover who Jesus is and the life that he gives.
Written by Laura Atkins and Steve Haines