Boost – the youth work training conference organised by The South East Partnership – has continued to gather and support youth and children’s leaders online since the beginning of the pandemic. Instead of one large annual conference in London, there have been several zoom sessions, featuring a wide variety of contributors and subject matter. The most recent event took place on Thursday 22nd April and explored how we can disciple children and young people in a way that also engages them in social justice.
Just Like Jesus
In a day called “Just like Jesus”, the keynote speakers were Matt Summerfield (focusing on the ‘Jesus’ part of this title) and David Westlake (exploring the ‘Justice’ part). David is CEO of International Justice Mission and before that had 20 years' experience working at Tearfund. He spoke about how to encourage children and young people to be disciples who dare to get involved with social justice issues and to be change-makers in the world. Matt Summerfield – who will be very familiar to many of you, as the former CEO and President of Urban Saints – spoke on a subject that he is very passionate about: walking together with children and young people on the journey of discipleship.
Among the speakers sharing in breakout rooms was Dan Randall, the Youth Director of HOPE Together. (Dan has previously been a speaker at Boost Online event last October) Dan spoke on discipling young people through social justice and showing young people how the Gospel speaks into their concerns for the world. Dave Roberts (Children Matter) spoke on discipling children and exciting their curiosity about social justice issues, using Jesus' pattern of asking questions to make people think. Ruth Robertson and Shona Hunter-Singh, from diverse churches in Dagenham and Chalfont St Peter, spoke about discipling children and young people through care and diversity – including a shared love of pizza!
A recording of the event will be on the Boost website in due course:
This is likely to be the last Boost Online event this year, although you can catch up on the previous sessions on the Boost website. The South East Partnership team – which is a Christian youth work consortium including Urban Saints, Scripture Union, Bible Society, London City Mission and denominational children's and youth advisers - are now planning for their next central London training conference for children’s and youth workers, parents and young people on Saturday 12th March 2022. The subject will be re-imagining work in schools in the light of all we have learned during the pandemic. We will share more information about this event later in 2021 and you can email the Boost team for details or sign up to the Urban Saints mailing list to be notified of this and other events coming up.
Finally, we recently had another encouragement from the Boost Online event in January, at which a number of speakers, including Christian MP Stephen Timms, spoke into issues arising from a Children's Society report of surveys that highlighted poor levels of happiness and life satisfaction among children and young people. As a direct result of attending our event, Stephen Timms wrote to the Secretary of State for Education, asking about funding for youth work and about how the Government might promote partnerships between statutory services and faith-based organisations doing youth work.
NYA: Make sure you have your say
One way to play your part in encouraging similar partnerships between churches, faith-based organisations and statutory services is to engage with the upcoming National Youth Agency census taking place later this year. If you or your church offer any type of youth work provision to your local community, register to be part of the census and have your say on how these services are supported and funded.