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2022/23 - A Year of Growth!

Hi all

We hope that you are well.

As the academic year has drawn to a close, we wanted to give you an update on what God has been doing through Kings Community and to thank you as a family for your continued support and generosity - through you, we continually see God's provision and confirmation that we're moving in the right direction:

Family News

As we reported at the end of 2022, we took a step of faith with Rachel leaving her job at Bury CofE High School in December to come and join the work at King’s Community on a full-time basis. We’re so glad to say that the first 8 months of us working together have been brilliant - the King’s Community work has significantly grown this year, but even more importantly, we’ve really enjoyed working together, finding a great work-life balance. Please continue to pray for Rachel’s continued recovery from Long Covid, which is still causing problems on an infrequent basis.

Reuben and Sophia have just finished Year 1 and Nursery at Mytham. They’ve both had great years, earning positive end of year reports and Reuben earning the ‘Star of the Year’ award.

I’m continuing to do well, working 3 days for Kings Community and 2 days for Kings Church, and preparing for the change of Dad stepping down from 41 years of church leadership. Please pray for Dad, along with Mum, David Andrew M and myself as we continue leading the church as a team.

Through all the busyness and exciting things that have happened in Kings Community so far this year, we’re looking forward to taking it a bit easier during the summer and making some family memories. We thank God for his goodness and peace in our lives. We’re also thankful to you all for continuing to support and encourage us – we couldn’t do this without you.

Kings Community January – July 2023.

Since Rachel has come on board, we have been able to double our capacity, which is a significant step in further positively impacting the physical, mental and spiritual health of children, teenagers and adults at risk by practically demonstrating God’s love in our community. Here is an overview of how we have been doing this:

Listening Service

The current main focus of our work is providing a one-to-one listening service for children in schools. This service acts as an intervention for children who are suffering with poor mental health but who cannot obtain further therapy. This year we’ve been able to provide 681 hours of listening sessions for 29 individual children who have been struggling with their mental health.

It can be very emotionally taxing listening to children in our area share their heart-breaking struggles with issues such as neglect, bereavement, gender dysphoria, poor self-image, anxiety etc. on a daily basis, but we know that God is calling us to be that safe space for children.

Despite those painful situations, it is so rewarding when we see breakthrough in children’s lives. A lot of the children’s anxiety has been further exacerbated by SATs and transitioning into year 6 and we have therefore spent an amount of time helping them prepare for these events by addressing their worries towards these things. It was so heartening to hear that the children did so well on their exams and they credited us with helping them address their fears. Other great individual stories this year include working with a boy who had such severe anxiety he had been off school and had an attendance record of just 61% in February. Over the past 4 months, we’ve seen his confidence grow to the point where his school attendance rose to 95%, he passed all his SATs and we had the privilege of going to see him perform one of the lead parts in his Year 6 production. Additionally, Rachel has been so encouraged by a specific school noticing a significant improvement in the children’s confidence, attendance and class engagement since she has been working with them. Doing this work continually reminds us of the importance of filling children’s lives with positive adult role models who will listen to them. We’re just so thankful that God gives us this opportunity and that he uses us to shine his light.

We’re also so thankful that schools appreciate this work and partner with us to bring about positive change. This work has significantly increased throughout the year with us starting with listening to 6 children per week in 2 schools in September 2022 and peaking with listening to 24 children per week in 5 schools. The 5 schools we have worked with this year are Masefield, Bowness, Red Lane, St Teresa’s and Mytham Primary School. The overwhelming positive is that the schools see the positive impact that we are having on the children, to the point that 3 schools are now able to financially contribute to this work, despite financial pressures, and are asking for further increase. We have prayed for godly influence in our schools for many years, and God is now opening doors well beyond our imagination.

The growing need however outweighs our current resources and we therefore ask that you stand with us in prayer for God’s wisdom and guidance to the next way forward. Our long-term aim is to eventually develop the Listening Service into a full Christian Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Service for Little Lever and the surrounding areas. Short term steps could include training qualified people to provide listening services and practically demonstrate God’s love in our area, so the work continues to grow and more children can be reached.

Practical items for prayer on this situation are:

· Please pray for the children who are too scared to talk, that they would know this is a safe space, and that they would meet with Jesus, the great healer, through our words and actions.

· Please pray for continued growth in the children who are becoming more confident.

· Please pray for continued strong working relationships with school staff and parents as we work together to find the best outcomes for the children.

· Please pray for protection for John and Rachel as they frequently hear about distressing situations.

· Please pray for wisdom and guidance over how to train new people to provide listening services.

· Please pray for financial provision for this.

Creative Arts Enrichment

We have continued to work with smaller groups of 5 Key Stage 2 children at a time to help them identify their own feelings through the use of creative arts such as music, art, creative writing or drama. These creative arts sessions run for 6 weeks and have been used in Masefield, Red Lane and Mytham Primary Schools throughout the year - We have managed to provide 108 creative arts sessions to 94 individual children!

The children have really enjoyed the sessions, finding it a helpful outlet for their creativity. The teachers have also noticed a positive change in some of the children’s behaviour and attitude through the work, which is always nice to hear. One of the great positives this year was Michelle Seddon coming to help Rachel with the creative arts in Mytham. Michelle built a strong bond with the Year 5 girls, making a positive impact in their lives.

We feel that the Creative Arts Project is a very significant piece of work moving forward, because allowing children to express themselves creatively and building strong relationships in small groups is a strong preventative measure to poor mental health, making a positive difference before a child requires urgent intervention. However, due to school’s limited budgets, they understandably prefer to invest in intervention methods such as individual listening services for specific children who are struggling.

Yet it is our conviction that providing strong prevention methods in schools will improve children’s overall mental health and therefore less children will require urgent intervention in the future. We therefore ask you to stand with us in prayer for guidance and wisdom over obtaining funding so we can offer this service to schools potentially during lunch time or after school, in addition to our listening services.

Practical items for prayer on this situation are:

· Pray for the children, that they enjoy the sessions, creatively express themselves and continue to trust us as adult role-models.

· Pray for the children’s wellbeing, as many have chaotic lives.

· Pray for the continued strong working relationship with Masefield and Red Lane primary schools.

· Pray for doors to open at other schools.

· Pray for us being successful in our funding application for resources.

Little Lever High School

We’re excited to announce that as of September, we will be working in Little Lever High School, providing up to 5 listening sessions per week for Year 7 children who are mentally struggling with the transition to High School. This is a real answer to prayer and an important step moving forward, meaning we can continue working with some children previously in Year 6, along with new children who require support. This is something that all the Primary Schools have asked for and it was amazing to see each of them recommend us to Little Lever High School. What encouraged us most about our meeting with the High School was the understanding that for the service to be most effective, we needed to work in close partnership, keeping frequent communication over each child’s progress and further actions. Please keep us in your prayers as stepping into High Schools is a new step for us, and is somewhat of an unknown.

Other Events and Community Links

We have been really busy partnering with King’s Church Little Lever in providing other events and building further community links:

In June we hosted a Christianity and Creativity event where the Year 6 children of Masefield, Bowness and St Teresa’s Primary Schools came to church to experience different ways we can worship God through creative arts. It was great to have a team of 10 volunteers from church helping run three different workshops – music, art and creative prayer. This was followed by a question and answer session where the children asked some very challenging questions about the Christian faith! It was so great to see the kids enjoying themselves and engaging with worship and we’ve received positive feedback and social media promotion from all 3 schools. We thank God that over the 2 days, 85 children came into church to engage in worship and we’re hoping for this to become an annual event with even more schools involved!

Rachel, along with Jo from Kings Church, has been hosting a Parent talk course in Bowness School, which has followed on from the weekly coffee mornings we have been hosting. This is a 6-week course that allows parents to share their experiences and struggles with regards to parenting. Whilst there were only 2 parents who consistently attended, they were encouraged by the honest conversations and relationships that have been built, to the point that one of the parents has recently attended an alpha course at King’s Church.

Thank You

With all the busyness and ongoings, it’s great to stop, reflect and thank God that he is working out his plans in Little Lever and beyond through Kings Community and partners. We’re thankful this has been a year of growth in numbers and influence and that there are new projects that will commence in September. We’ve attached a download link to a short video that gives an overview of what has happened this year.

Finally, we’re so thankful that He has placed you in our lives - we really could not do this without your continued support and encouragement. Thank you so much.

God bless

John, Rachel and family.

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