A very happy New Year to you all. We hope that you are well.
Kings Community 2022 – A Year of Growth
2022 has been a year of significant growth for King’s Community in many ways. Earlier this year we became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and we are now Registered Charity 1198628. This was an essential step moving forward, as it would increase our profile, provide further opportunities with schools and allow us to apply for larger funding applications, all of which contribute to positively impacting the physical, mental and spiritual health of children, teenagers and adults at risk by practically demonstrating God’s love in our community.
Since we became a CIO in April, the work we do has significantly grown:
The current main focus of our work is providing a one-to-one listening service for children in schools. 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 painful situations, it is so rewarding when we see breakthrough in children’s lives. One example of this is a child who had been struggling with poor self-image and severe performance anxiety for the past year has recently grown in confidence to the point where they managed to sing a solo in front of the whole school. They have credited having the opportunity to be listened to on a weekly basis as being the key to their improvement. It’s really challenged me once again that God just wants our availability – for all the strategies that can be put in place (and there is real value in them), we can never underestimate how important it is for children to know that there is an adult there who simply cares and listens.
The output of work has also increased significantly. Since September we have increased from seeing 6 children in 2 schools per week to 12 children in 4 schools per week, and this has been asked to increase to 18 children per week from January. The 4 schools we are currently working in are Masefield, Bowness and St Theresa’s Primary Schools in Little Lever and Red Lane Primary School in Breightmet. For the growth to be sustainable, the work needs to shared out. Therefore, since September, Rachel and I have both had 6 children per week each and we are currently looking for funding for staff and volunteer training to help with this work.
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 support this work 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. It is still our aim to eventually develop the Listening Service into a full Christian Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Service for Little Lever and the surrounding areas. Whilst this is a long-term goal that will require specific skills and planning, the current growth of this service and Kings Community now becoming a registered charity are positive steps forward.
We, however, need wisdom and guidance over what our practical limit is at this moment in time, as well as vision to see how we can train new people to provide listening services and practically demonstrate God’s love in our area.
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 my 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 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
Enrichment classes with Key Stage 2 children are continuing, however they have evolved significantly throughout the year. Instead of teaching a whole class about looking after wellbeing, we trialled working with smaller groups of 5 children at a time, looking at how they can identify their own feelings through the use of creative arts. This proved successful to the point that we created a 6 week creative arts project for Primary School children that encourages children to express their thoughts, fears and feelings through either music, art, creative writing or drama.
This project has been running in both Masefield and Red Lane Primary Schools since September, with 40 children already completed the course and having a piece of expressive art to show for their work. What has also been very encouraging is the partnership working on this project – we have been partnering with Amy Woodfield and Abby Latham-Holt who are delivering the drama and creative writing strands in Red Lane. This has been a real God-connection as they have recently started a church plant in the pub directly opposite the school! Rachel has been leading the art strand and I have been leading the music strand, and we’ve both noticed the children’s joy at being able to creatively express themselves. 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.
We feel that the Creative Arts Project is a very significant piece of work moving forward, as it allows us to positively influence children to express themselves creatively, which is known to improve mental health. Working with smaller numbers of children allows us to build stronger relationships and to work with teachers to identify any areas of potential concern in children that may be missed in larger setting. However, whilst this work is beneficial, it is expensive to run due to resource costing. We are therefore applying for resource funding in order to ease this financial burden.
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 partnership working between John, Rachel, Amy and Abby.
· 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.
All the excitement of growth also highlights the importance governance and compliance within a charity. From what started as a dream to help people improve their mental wellbeing has quickly grown to a charity that requires policies, relevant insurances, funding, and accounts returns – it’s all very new to Rachel and myself and is taking a bit of time getting used to! Thankfully we have a great team of trustees in Sharon McGreavy, Debbie Graham, Ruth Seddon, Andrew Lane and Chris Bagley, and external partners who are so supportive and helpful in this area.
Building links with High Schools
We believe that the next immediate step God is calling us into is to start practically demonstrating God’s love in High Schools. We have therefore made contact with a number of High Schools, including Little Lever, in order to help ease the emotional impact for children transitioning into Year 7. It has so far proved quite difficult to get a response from the school, despite the clear need for some intervention work when children move schools. What is encouraging is the schools we currently work in, see the need, and are making contact with High Schools on our behalf. Please pray that God will make a way in these schools, in His time.
It is still our intention to develop our Enrichment lessons into an online resource for schools to use. It will be called 'The Twelve:2 Course', based on Romans 12:2 'Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...... and will look at renewing our minds to things that cause us anxiety such as worry, self-esteem, friendships, guilt etc. With charitable status confirmed, we will now be able to acquire the relevant funding to start recording this project in the near future.
Throughout all the plans and ongoings, we come back to the truth that this is God’s work, His vision and His plans. We want to continue to trust in Him and hear His voice for the future ahead. We're so thankful for all that He has done this year and all that He will do in the future. We are also 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.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
John, Rachel and the family