It’s nearly the end of the school year – and, as always, Soulscape’s busiest time!
Here’s a taster of what we’ve been up to over this last half-term, helping young people deal with the destructive pressures they face by creating space to explore.
We began with REAL workshops for Year 9s in Emmbrook, and subsequently at The Holt exploring sex and relationships, particularly decision-making and identity. Among other things we discuss sexting with young people, how they can handle peer pressure and also stay safe. We also ran an extended programme of REAL workshops at Emmbrook. This explored aspects of mental wellbeing, drawing from our new Inside Out project, launched earlier this year, where we share young people’s stories and offer strategies to help with anxiety and stress
In Emmbrook we hosted a Pause space, designed to help young people from all across the school explore prayer and reflection in a creative, communal environment. Pause was open for a whole week, and was the most advanced we have offered, with new spaces for engagement with the needs of our local community and wider world, as well as young people’s own personal lives. The movement between our inner life and life outside added a lot to the experience.
We also offered extended Pause sessions at Holt as lunchtime drop-ins for girls to explore particular issues of self harm and anxiety.
Mind the Gap is our transition project to help children in Year 6 with the big move to secondary school. We work with around 1,000 young people each year, both in primary schools and then as part of the induction programme in secondary schools. This year has been no different, and our amazing team of volunteers have once again helped make this time of transition something positive. Beyond the big numbers we’ve also been able to work more in-depth with some of the most vulnerable children in a few of our partner primary schools who need more confidence-building and time to process the move and how it will affect them.
In Holt we have run two drop-down days for GCSE RE, exploring a wide variety of complex topics, with an amazing array of volunteers. We looked at how churches have responded to hunger with food banks, to inter-faith dialogue with a refugee Muslim human rights lawyer, to different approaches to prayer with a team from Wokingham Baptist and St Paul’s CofE churches, as well as personal testimony from a prison worker on why he’s involved in mission. It’s a long day for our contributors, but their powerful stories and real-life faith (of many different shapes and sizes) mean young people are both challenged and supported to explore different ways of thinking about personal faith and what it means in real life.
And finally, we ran Pause again, this time at Edgebarrow – a chance to end the school year finding space within the difficult pressures of life to explore compassion, forgiveness, grief, hope, and many other powerful spiritual parts of our human experience that contemporary life just does not normally make time or space for.
We’re so grateful for the commitment of our many volunteers – there’s so much we couldn’t do without them! The work we do is challenging – for our staff and our key volunteers it requires a lot of stamina, physically but also emotionally as we regularly deal with a lot of difficult topics with young people, many of whom find themselves in difficult situations.
What keeps us going is the knowledge that when we create space for young people we are holding back the destructive pressures they face – so that they can genuinely explore alternatives for their life. We continue to be defiant in the face of a culture that squashes young people down, into a box, and says believe this, want this, do this, wear this… We say think for yourself, wonder, imagine, speak, create and above all live! Live life with love!
We desperately want to provide more opportunities for young people to explore how to find life under pressure. But we operate from a very small budget and are always limited by our capacity. If you’re inspired by Soulscape and want to help us create more spaces for young people then please consider becoming a Friend of Soulscape with a regular monthly donation. You can find out more info here.
And if you want to get involved and volunteer with our projects check out this page and get in touch.