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Knowing when to first say 'hello' can be nerve racking with a new group of young people. A detached team from one of our parishes recently had an uplifting experience with this, that they wanted to share.
Since I started volunteering with the courtyard project, it has been an exciting and rewarding experience. Watching the project grow and develop with the input of all our volunteers of many different ages, experience and backgrounds has really proven to me that the people care about the community of Wood Green and its young people
I joined the Courtyard project as the London Project Worker in July. Part of my role is to expand the Courtyard project into five new parishes. Initially this left me thinking “how on earth do we do that?” I have started this task by doing a lot of research into parishes and their communities. I am now contacting potential parishes and from this we have so far met with one new parish to talk more about how Courtyard could work for them.
Apart from the obvious reference, who is “the big guy”?
Since April 2015, St Paul’s, through our Courtyard project, have been building rapport with some of the hardest to reach young people in our area. Through this kind of process, you often develop nicknames for young people you recognise, but haven’t met properly yet.
Shying away at first, Mandy soon became comfortable enough to chat to us outside MacDonald’s, amidst her group of friends. She told us about her day, in her school’s isolation unit. When we invited her thoughts on the unit, she said that some teachers view her as one of “the bad kids”. She then admitted “I do have my moments, but really, I’m alright”.
Despite the gospel calling for humility and secrecy when doing good work, it's always a pleasure to be recognised for the good work that we do. We were recently invited by the Frontier Youth Trust to a gathering in the Houses of Parliament, to talk about our youth work and meet others who do similar work with young people.
I remember one night when our Courtyard was really buzzing! Table tennis, football, volleyball, badminton, music, chatting. People felt immediately relaxed, the young people making the space their own.
Back on the streets again after our summer break and at first sight there appeared to be some changes. Our group from infront of McDonalds’s have seemed to moved on to pastures new; whether this is a permanent change or because we were an hour later leaving base has yet to be determined. Hope it’s not the former – what would we do without our French fries?!
If we were to choose a specific day that we could term the ‘Grand Opening’ or the ‘Premiere’ of our Courtyard project, there is a sense that last Thursday would be it. Following our effort over so many weeks, we finally felt as though the fruit of our labours and patient dedication had arrived.
What a day! We went out on the streets last Thursday armed with posters advertising Courtyard’s stall in Wood Green Shopping City this coming week, together with a little ball of Blue-tack to show the local shops that we meant business when we asked them to display a poster in their windows!