Lydia Daubney from The Message Trust has been working with Banovallum School in Horncastle for several terms now. She brings the Message Trust's Respect Me program which deals with sex, relationships and self-esteem. While the trust is an unashamedly Christian organisation, the content of the program is suitable for young people of every belief system and background. It doesn't tell them what to think but encourages them to make informed decisions for themselves. https://respectme.co.uk/
I joined Lydia on Thursday as she presented a session on Consent to 120 year 8 children aged 12-13. The youngsters were a bit restless - probably embarrassed - but Lydia was very professional. In a compelling presentation she invited the young people to think about the difference between love and lust.
Early on in the session she told the story of "Dave" a hard-hitting wealthy businessman who spotted a woman in the bath from the roof of his penthouse apartment. For those familiar with the story of King David and Bathsheba the narrative was easily recognised but when Lydia told the young people that Dave had the woman's husband "bumped off" there was a real gasp of shock. She then encouraged them to reflect on whether the story was true or not and whether Dave was acting from love or lust.
Lydia spoke about Christians' approach to sex and pointed out that there are different attitudes amongst Christians but that most would agree that good relationships are built on respect, openness, confidentiality and kindness. She also spoke about how the media and society can give the message that anything goes and that you should just get whatever you want.
However, Lydia also pointed out that infidelity inevitably causes pain and hurt and that the sense of entitlement can lead to abuse and rape. She talked about he importance of getting to know someone well enough to know whether they really mean it when they give consent to a course of action whether the relationship is a friendship or something more intimate.
She introduced the young people to the description of love in 1Corinthians 13 and suggested that it might be the kind of love to aim for.
The session finished with a short video from Emma Owen the founder of Respect Me talking about her experience of refusing consent but having that refusal ignored.
Lydia explained that Emma's faith as a Christian helped her to deal with the experience and use it as a spur to go on to help young people.
Lydia engaged the young people well and there were some very good questions and comments from, "What is lust?" to "You can't help who you fall in love with." Lydia spoke of her own experience of falling in love but then having a choice as to whether to act on the feelings depending on whether she could trust the person she loved.
Lydia's conversations with staff before and after the session showed that she has built up a good relationship with the school and is trusted there. it was good to hear that the themes Lydia covered will be discussed in lessons in the school and it was great to hear the high opinion the staff have of her and the program.
Find out more about The Message Trust at https://respectme.co.uk/