“Thanks for believing in me. It means a lot.”
Prior to Covid-19 one in ten young people aged 16-25 were not in any form of education, employment training. Due to recent events the unemployment rate for young people is expected to rise significantly. What does the future look like for these young people? What barriers are they facing, preventing them from making choices about their future? What disadvantages are they encountering? Where do young people turn if they do not have a supportive home life?
Oftentimes the solution is simple: The local church providing relational, tailored, and holistic mentoring.
In 2012 Reading Family Church partnered with a local charity to set up Starting Point, a project passionate about seeing transformation in the lives of young people who face disadvantage. We began to train, equip, and support local volunteers to mentor ‘hard to reach’ or unseen young people to attain, sustain and thrive within education, employment, and training.
Fast forward 8 years and Starting Point have mentored over 100 young people in 2019 alone. We’ve seen amazing transformation in the lives of local young people who would otherwise most likely still be unemployed, and socially isolated.
Each young person has unique barriers that prevent them from engaging in education, employment, or training. They may have had a parent pass away, spent time in prison, suffered multiple traumas as a child, have undiagnosed conditions, or been bullied. The barriers are varied and often complex. Through getting to know the young person, meeting them exactly where they are on their journey, and showing a genuine interest in their life, the matched mentor can help them aspire to make positive changes in their life.
The model is simple yet effective, enabling local reliable volunteers, to consistently mentor local young people, being supported by local businesses and other partners. There is no wait time to receive support and no time limit to how long support is offered, ensuring there is adequate space required to build genuine relationships, with a tailored and holistic focus. Through getting to know the young person, mentors can offer practical assistance, alongside social and emotional support. Our heart is to unlock their potential; enabling every young person to make positive, sustained change; and releasing young people into a brighter, more hopeful future.
“It is amazing to see how by simply building a genuine relationship with and being a consistent role model has a transformational impact on the lives of the young people who would otherwise be unlikely to walk through the doors of a church building. It is a privilege to daily see the church go to the young people and show God’s love in such a real way, meeting a real need.”
– Sam Lloyd (Starting Point Project Manager)
As we continue to grow and thrive as a project, a next step is looking to equip local churches with the tools and resources to reach the young people in their area. We’ve launched a new replication model, which can be tailored to identify each individual community’s needs. If you are interested in partnering your church with Starting Point to enable real transformation, or hearing more of our story, you can get in touch via our website at www.startingpoint.org.uk
or check out the video below for more information.
Written by Sophie O’Rourke from Reading Family Church