It's less than a week now until we move to Bristol, where Tom will begin training and studying to become a vicar in a few years! I am still on maternity leave but won’t be returning to WCYP, and I feel so sad to be leaving after 10 years of working for this amazing organisation. In the past few weeks I’ve seen some of you and have really appreciated the kind messages, videos and cards, but many of you I’ve not been able to say goodbye to… so I thought I’d share some final thoughts with you all as we prepare to move away.
I started my job as ‘Mentoring Youth Worker’ in June 2010. I turned up to the interview in casual clothes not quite knowing what to expect but full of enthusiasm and excitement. As I walked in I instantly noticed the 2 other candidates were wearing posh suits! I looked across to Libbi who I’d met briefly before the day, and mouthed ‘is this ok!?’ pointing to my outfit. She mouthed ‘its fine don’t worry!’ back and I breathed a big sigh of relief! By the grace of God I was offered the job and I started a few weeks later, and needless to say Libbi became an instant friend!
One of the first young people I worked with popped round the other day, and we were reminiscing about the old days. She reminded me that when
I had first met her, offering to run some group work in Chamberlayne school, I seemed so shy that she barked back at me ‘SPEAK UP!!’
I must have been terrified but we soon got over it and I mentored her for years after that! Reflecting on these early experiences at WCYP I feel like I was quite unsure, naïve and very new to Southampton, but full of excitement, convinced that all I needed to do was encourage people, show love and care and be open to trying new things, and I’d be able to make a difference.
Over the years WCYP has changed a great deal. We have worked in various offices, a particular low being the old betting shop along Weston parade with a leaking ceiling and the ‘den’ in the back of church with no wifi, heating or phone signal! But what makes WCYP so special, and I’m sure you’ll agree, is not the places we work in but the amazing people we’re with. I have loved working with such an awesome team of colleagues and friends, including Libbi, Phil, Tracey, Julieanne, Joel, Dean, Tom, Debbie and many others. You all inspire me.
Some of my highlights over the past 10 years include taking groups of young people to Wales for weekends away, trips to Battlefield Live in the New Forest, open mic nights, Summer camps, beach trips, Soul Survivor (especially the foam party!), toasting marshmallows around a fire, hundreds of mentoring trips to Costa, but most of all just the relationships I’ve been able to build with so many young people.
In all of it, I have learnt that you can do all the planning you want but what makes the biggest difference in people’s lives is the time you invest in them. Building trust with young people, letting them know you really care, being someone who believes in them. I hope as I move on that if
any of you remember me at all, you will remember those things.
And I want
to remind you that the love and care I show is just a small reflection of the unconditional love that God has for us all! Our WCYP motto ‘Live life to the full!’ comes from the Bible, where Jesus promises us that if we will accept His love, we really will have life in all its fullness.
I pray that you will all know the reality of that today and always.
Keep in touch!