I was invited to St Giles Methodist Church and Christian Centre in Lincoln on Thursday for their second Youth Group meeting since Covid-19. Although numbers are down since lock-down, there were still between 20 and 30 young people there aged from 11 to 17.
Volunteer Pearl took me under her wing at first and showed me round. This seems to be typical of Pearl who the youngsters call "Nan Pearl" and whose main role seems to be dispensing hugs to all and sundry. Pearl also served in the tuck shop where young people and adults alike could get their fix of sugar.
St Giles is an ideal space for the venture as it has plenty of different spaces. With the chairs moved away, the main worship area is a space for more physical activities.
Pool and table football seemed very popular.
The table tennis table wasn't being used for table tennis but it was a great focus for the challenges overseen by John Lawson the Eden Team Worker at the youth project. Firstly the kids had to pick up a table tennis ball from a cup by sucking on a straw. Only using suction they had to move it round the table and put it in the cup on the other end. The fastest was the winner and the activity created lots of excitement and plenty of encouraging comments from the bystanders.
The hall was set up with a selection of video games. While I was there I didn't see them being played very often. The young people seemed to be using the space more to chat and interact with one another or to play on their own mobile phones.
On the other side of the entrance is the lounge which is a quiet area. There are lots of comfy chairs for watching a film or just chilling out.
The chess set seemed to be in use throughout the the evening and later on some creative folk started using the craft area.
The young people are living with a variety of issues in their family lives and the youth group offers a space where they can just be themselves and do whatever suits them that evening.
Emotions were running high on Thursday evening and there seemed to be several visits to the office at the back of Church where young people could talk in confidence to leaders Kerry and John. Youth Group is a safe place where they can talk about anything that bothers them including safeguarding issues. John told me that social media misuse is a real concern at the moment.
The group is also a place where it's safe to talk about faith. One girl was asking John about whether he believes in God and telling us about her own church attendance. Some of the young people have come along to Sunday worship and one young man has become an evangelist. He gave his life to Christ recently and he encourages other young people to come to church with him. In January the youth group will resume their monthly Youth Praise evenings so I'll be back to see one of those.
In no time at all the evening seemed to be drawing to a close. John's final challenge for the young people was trying to get a piece of chocolate from your forehead into your mouth without touching it with your hands. The facial expressions were wonderful!