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Integrate YFC steps into the Thetford generation gap 

With almost no youth outreach happening amongst Thetford’s churches, there was a fear that a generation was slipping by. Now Thetford Team Ministry is working with Integrate YFC to develop a youth ministry that, funding allowing, only promises to get bigger. Jenny Seal reports. 

In 2015 Christian youth work in Thetford was at a low ebb.  Apart from a monthly youth event called ‘Vibe’ hosted by Liberty Church there was virtually no youth outreach work being undertaken by any of the town’s churches.

Rev Helen Jary, Minister of Cloverfield Community Church, described the situation to a Thetford Christians Together meeting, saying: “This whole generation might just slip by. We shouldn’t be allowing it on our watch”.

It was therefore a welcome meeting when Rev Helen Jary and Rev Tony Heywood from Thetford Team Ministry were approached by the Diss based youth charity, Integrate Youth For Christ (YFC), who felt called to begin a youth work in the Mid Norfolk town.

Steph Richardson who leads Integrate YFC said: “It first started because we employed a worker who lived in Thetford on the Abbey Farm Estate. She started to develop a passion for Thetford and kept saying: “there is such a need in Thetford, there’s nothing here.” 

“At first it felt like it was too far for us to go because we were stretched to the limit anyway, but it just wouldn’t go away.  Then I met Helen Jary at an event and she was talking about Thetford, and we started having a conversation.  Thetford kept coming into our path, to the point where we just said: “what can we do?””

Integrate Thetford2 600Thetford Team Ministry had access to a Sunday School Trust fund and began funding Integrate YFC to run an afterschool club called ‘Wise Up’ for transitioning Year 6 children at The Bishops CE VA Primary School

This developed into the Pulse Youth Café, an after school youth club meeting at the town’s Church of the Nazarene on the first and third Tuesday of the month.  On the 2nd and 4th Tuesday they run a Youth Alpha course called Pulse Extra.

Until recently Nayna Price, who lives in Thetford, was running the project for Integrate YFC.   Nayna initially made connections with a group of boys, who now attend the group, through taking her son to Thetford Skatepark and inviting them along to the café.  She said: “I’m very bold at talking to the young people about Jesus”. 

Steph said: “We now have 8-12 young people who come along. And one of the exciting things is the number of different nationalities represented – French, Russian, Portuguese, Czech, English, Ukraine and Polish. It’s very multicultural and I think that’s quite distinctive. 

“We are building up good relationships.  We’ve seen some amazing things happen.   One of the girls has given her life to Jesus and two of the young people asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit at Alpha”.

Nayna still volunteers for the project and through her involvement in her local church has arranged trips with the young people to New Day, the monthly youth Encounter event in Norwich and SOUL Church youth events, including taking two minibuses to the recent launch of SOUL Fearless with Guvna B.  

Rev Helen Jary said: “It’s been really good for Cloverfield’s youth to meet other teens in other churches”.

ThetfordIntegrate3 600At the Pulse Youth Café the young people receive a free slice of toast and milkshake.  They can play table top games, pool, table football, the PS4 or do a craft activity. Pulse Extra includes a meal and the youth alpha material. The work is supported by volunteers from the Salvation Army, Church of the Nazarene, Liberty Church Thetford, the Evangelical Community of Thetford and Cloverfield Community Church.

The Thetford Team Ministry initially committed to the project until the end of 2016 and have now extended that to the summer of 2017.  At this point the Thetford Sunday School Trust will no longer be able to sustain the work.  Rev Helen Jary has put a proposal to Thetford Christians Together for the town’s churches to consider sharing the project and funding it together.

Helen said: “With funding it is only going to scale up.  I just feel that there could be an anointing and a blessing on this work.”

In other secondary schools around South Breckland and South Norfolk including Old Buckenham, Diss, Long Stratton and Harleston Integrate YFC run lunch clubs, prayer spaces, mission teams and mentoring within schools. The team are keen to develop into this work within Thetford’s two secondary schools but are waiting until ongoing funding has been committed. 

Steph said: “Our vision is to have a lead worker in every school catchment area to point young people towards churches and to support churches within the catchment area to support young people.

“Our prayer now for the Thetford youth work is that we can find some secure funding that will provide the core funding on a steady monthly basis. 
The funding we are looking for is to cover the salary and supporting costs of a worker [around £300 per month].  We will look for individual supporters on top of that too.”

If you would like to support this work financially or practically please contact Steph Richardson at Integrate YFC at steph@integrateyfc.org.uk.


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