Year 10 Boys Excel at Feed Collection

Every year, Verulam School collect items for Feed, the food bank ran by The Vineyard Church. Their record is 4851 items, which they are attempting to beat this year.

This morning, Four Year 10 boys turned up with a massive 346 items (pictured in the crates below) that they had bought with their own money. One of the boys has been a regular big giver to Feed since he joined in Year 7 and he has gradually persuaded more and more of his friends to join him. They even negotiated with Tesco to give them a 10% discount as it was for charity.

The school are trying to get it into the paper so we’ll update you if that makes it to print. We are always blown away by the sacrificial giving that students make to this worthy cause, showing us that young people really do care for their community.

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What is Church?

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Step had the privilege of spending time with Loreto College Year 11 on Tuesday this week. They had five different sessions during the day and I was part of the team leading one in particular.

In our session we reflected together on what it means to be church and what it means to be a school community. By setting out 4 different reflective but also active spaces we hoped to focus on the idea that there are different relationships that exist within school and faith communities.

Upward relationship - our communication with God

Downward relationship - His communication with us

Two outward relationships - to each other and also to the world around us

It was wonderful to allow the students to think about these areas and realise that relationships form an integral part of church and community.

The students wrote their own psalms to express their upward relationship to God. The girls honestly reflected on what they would like to say to God and the questions that they have. The things they wrote were so great we have made a short video of their Psalm Scroll which you can view below.

It is my last week at Step before I go on maternity leave so it feels like such a privilege to have been able to open up this space for reflection.

Do consider whether you would like to join our retreat team, it really is so rewarding!

Thanks for reading, look out for more news,

Charlotte

Welcome to your new school!!!

Step had the privilege of being part of the Year 7 induction carousel at Townsend for the start of their secondary school journey. We saw each form group twice over two consecutive days.

On the first day we thought about our lives as journeys. The students spent time thinking about where they were in their life currently and then thought about the experiences they’ve had already and the hopes they have for the future. They then made a bracelet that would remind them of the journey so far and the journey yet to come.

On the second day the students competed in a Church of England Quiz where each form tried their best to have the highest score in attempt to win a prize for their form. We then thought about Butterflies and the transition they make from caterpillar to butterfly. The students watched a video of the transformation process which is amazing )but slightly bizarre)!!! They then thought about what they would miss in primary school and what they were looking forward to in secondary school and wrote their thoughts down on a butterfly.

It was great to meet the students again after their transition day in July and spend some time with them at the very beginning of their school journey. We have lots of fantastic opportunities to work with the all the Year groups in Townsend this term. If you want to find out how you could be part of a fantastic team of volunteers and join in please click on the link.

Loreto Retreat Days: 1 down, 4 to go!

On Wednesday, a team of Step staff and volunteers descended on Loreto College to run our first of 5 retreat days this term. 

The Year 7 students threw themselves into 5 different sessions with gusto. They used props to act out stories of the Old Testament, examined the evidence for the existence of Jesus, and strengthened their newly-formed friendships through team-building games. 

They also physically ‘retreated’ away from school and down the road to Ss Alban and Stephen Catholic Church. Here they reflected on their lives as journeys and made bracelets to remind themselves of their significant milestones. In the main church, they used iPods and 8 activities to explore different ways that we can worship.

We ended the day together in the church by talking about how we’re invited to be part of the ‘body of Christ’ – one body of many parts, each with unique qualities. Each girl took home a puzzle piece to remind her, at the start of her secondary school journey, that she is a unique and valued part of a bigger picture.

The day was only the second activity Step has ever run in Loreto. The feedback from students has been very positive, with some suggesting we improve the retreat by making it longer! (We’re going to need more caffeine…)

We’re enormously grateful to every member of the team for making it possible, and to God for ensuring it was a brilliant start to Step’s relationship with Year 7. 

Do pray for the upcoming retreat days with the other year groups and contact Terrie if you want to get involved – we’d love to add your unique qualities to this picture!

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Three planks for the price of one!

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Yesterday, the Step staff team had the privilege of spending a day at Holy Trinity Frogmore getting ready for the new school year. We are thankful for Rev. Nick Weir, who introduced our day with an excellent reflection about Mary and Martha and balancing our work and our spiritual lives.

We then had the privilege of spending the day with the leader of The Network Church, Trevor Withers (pictured here), who helped us to contemplate how we effectively share the gospel to an ever-changing culture. 

He left us pondering, how can the message of the cross be explained not only as a legal transaction from guilt to innocence (plank 1), but also a message about moving from fear to power (plank 2) and shame to honour (plank 3)?  

Introducing Jeremy Bottrill

 Step is proud to introduce our latest Schools Coordinator - local youth work legend - Jeremy Bottrill! He will be covering Charlotte's maternity leave and leading the work in Harpenden. We are thoroughly overjoyed that he will be using his skills and experience in the local secondary schools and look forward to learning lots from him.  In case you've missed who is the Step staff team, we have from left to right - Jeremy, Charlotte, Terrie, Sara, Claire, Helena, Geoff and Chris is in the foreground. This amazing team leads 37 volunteers working in 14 local schools supported by roughly another 10 people doing an amazing job behind the scenes.  If you would like to join this team, 'telling the next generation' and seeing young lives changed for the better, please  contact T  errie .

Step is proud to introduce our latest Schools Coordinator - local youth work legend - Jeremy Bottrill! He will be covering Charlotte's maternity leave and leading the work in Harpenden. We are thoroughly overjoyed that he will be using his skills and experience in the local secondary schools and look forward to learning lots from him.

In case you've missed who is the Step staff team, we have from left to right - Jeremy, Charlotte, Terrie, Sara, Claire, Helena, Geoff and Chris is in the foreground. This amazing team leads 37 volunteers working in 14 local schools supported by roughly another 10 people doing an amazing job behind the scenes.

If you would like to join this team, 'telling the next generation' and seeing young lives changed for the better, please contact Terrie.

Are we nearly there yet?

 In the car I often dread this question. Your answer needs to both manage expectations and also be true. It's a difficult tightrope, especially when you're still on your drive at home. Over the years I’ve been asked "How is Step doing?" and I’ve responded in numerous ways, but the experience has felt similar to answering my kids' "Are we nearly there yet?" questions. My answers needs to manage expectations but also be true. Excitingly, this year, in Step I haven’t needed to manage expectations, and if people were to ask me "Chris, are we nearly there yet?", I’ve responded by saying "Yes!".   Step started the academic year working in 12 secondary schools. By Christmas we were working in 13 and by the end of May we worked in 14 of the 17 local secondary schools. It does not feel coincidental that this growth was linked to our appointment of the new schools coordinators Helena and Sara. It is amazing to think that once their work is fully bedded into their schools, Step will be working with roughly 82% of secondary age students in St Albans and Harpenden.   If you’d like to find out more about what we do in schools, or would like to help us in our final push to work with every secondary school in St Albans and Harpenden, please click  here.   Chris Birch-Evans

In the car I often dread this question. Your answer needs to both manage expectations and also be true. It's a difficult tightrope, especially when you're still on your drive at home. Over the years I’ve been asked "How is Step doing?" and I’ve responded in numerous ways, but the experience has felt similar to answering my kids' "Are we nearly there yet?" questions. My answers needs to manage expectations but also be true. Excitingly, this year, in Step I haven’t needed to manage expectations, and if people were to ask me "Chris, are we nearly there yet?", I’ve responded by saying "Yes!". 

Step started the academic year working in 12 secondary schools. By Christmas we were working in 13 and by the end of May we worked in 14 of the 17 local secondary schools. It does not feel coincidental that this growth was linked to our appointment of the new schools coordinators Helena and Sara. It is amazing to think that once their work is fully bedded into their schools, Step will be working with roughly 82% of secondary age students in St Albans and Harpenden. 

If you’d like to find out more about what we do in schools, or would like to help us in our final push to work with every secondary school in St Albans and Harpenden, please click here.

Chris Birch-Evans

One Giant Leap

We had a fab day on Thursday the 12th of July meeting all the Year 6's who are moving up to Townsend on their transition day. We spent 40 minutes with each new form thinking through friendship and what qualities make a good friend. 

They got to hear the parable of the Good Samaritan and thought about what it teaches us about how to treat others. At the end of the session every child drew round their hand and wrote qualities that make them a good friend in each of their fingers. 

We had a fab team that helped the session to run smoothly and meant that were able to invest more time into each student. For more information on how to get involved in these days please click here and get in touch. 

Helena :)

Introducing our New Labyrinth focusing on Relationships

Over the past few months we have been working on an exciting new resource. The brief was to create a reflective space where young people could explore relationships in different levels, from friendships to their relationship with God and lots of things in between.

'It was impossible at the beginning to stay walking within the lines, I was constantly tempted to go for the quickest route but after a few stations I got the hang of it.'  Yr 10 student 
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It was a joy to see it set up and used for the first time in our Retreat with Year 10 from Nicholas Breakspear. Students make a pair of glasses that become their God Lenses for the journey round the Labyrinth. Our Labyrinth is painted onto 6mx6m black cloth and as they walk round the route they stop off to reflect at 8 stations. iPods lead them on the journey and enable them to slow down, pause and ponder new ideas.

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The Labyrinth is available to be used and borrowed from us so do be in touch if this is something you would love your friends, youth group or church to explore. We have added a copy of our audio track for station 1 to give you a taster.

Look out for this resource being used more next school year!

Alpha course was so good we're doing another!

 17 Year 7 students, six topics and cinema-worthy quantities of popcorn. During the summer term Nicholas Breakspear students gathered together to take part in Alpha. Most students came because they had experienced a taster session on their Step Retreat. A few came because the course was happening instead of the weekly lunch club they usually attend.   The course was a total success with students asking good questions, changing views, sharing personal beliefs and engaging with each other on a deeper spiritual level. Attending allowed pupils to develop on their faith journey. The final session concluded with offering bibles to those that wanted to read more. Eight students took New Testaments for further discovery.  Next term we will run Alpha for Year 9. Fancy helping? You don’t need any previous experience of Alpha, but should be willing to chat about your faith and listen to the students' opinions. Contact  Chris  if you'd like to find out more.

17 Year 7 students, six topics and cinema-worthy quantities of popcorn. During the summer term Nicholas Breakspear students gathered together to take part in Alpha. Most students came because they had experienced a taster session on their Step Retreat. A few came because the course was happening instead of the weekly lunch club they usually attend. 

The course was a total success with students asking good questions, changing views, sharing personal beliefs and engaging with each other on a deeper spiritual level. Attending allowed pupils to develop on their faith journey. The final session concluded with offering bibles to those that wanted to read more. Eight students took New Testaments for further discovery.

Next term we will run Alpha for Year 9. Fancy helping? You don’t need any previous experience of Alpha, but should be willing to chat about your faith and listen to the students' opinions. Contact Chris if you'd like to find out more.

The Step Experience

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Step is excited to launch The Step Experience (formerly The Step Academy) in September. We want to form a community of people who are at a change point in their lives, who would like to use this time to look outwards as well as inwards. Your age and experience do not matter, we are looking for people of passion and character.

The Step Experience is a focused way of engaging with Step and its mission whilst taking time to reflect with others on the personal impact of these experiences. Those in the community will have an opportunity to gather with each other weekly and also assist Step staff running some of our key ministries. 

We see this initiative as a vital part of Step’s next stage of growth. If you are interested in finding out more about The Step Experience please visit The Step Experience or contact Terrie. We are launching the community in September; so don’t take too long considering whether to join.

The Season for Step Days has arrived

During June and July Step will run 13 Step Days, working with well over a thousand students from within 9 different schools. Each day we will explore different themes, including relationships, justice, identity, Jesus and change. We love these days because the students and teachers get immersed in the theme for six hours. The days are relaxed, but diverse, aiming to inspire personal engagement with the theme. Each day is designed to have a balance of different learning styles meaning that the students and teachers think, do, play and be (without screen time).

“Thank you to the Step team who come in and run the year 7 Christianity day at Verulam School. By giving up your time and by using your God given gifts you have spread the Good News to 180 boys who otherwise may not have heard it.  Such was your fantastic input that boys were able to correctly answer exam questions based on the day over six months later.  God has called you to our boys and the impact you have is phenomenal.  Thank you for all your hard work, we are lucky to have you all.”  Vicky O’Kelly, Head of RE

Step Days are run mainly by our volunteers and typically require between 10 to 16 team who take on a myriad of roles ranging from making tea and running team games through to leading workshops and delivering inspiring reflections. If you would like to be involved in our Step Day team, please contact Terrie.

Introducing the new JUSTICE SPACE MAT!!!!!

On Tuesday and Wednesday last week the Justice Space Mat had its first ever run during the Nicholas Breakspear retreat. It has been something I have been planning for many months and it was amazing to be able to see its first uses.

The mat is split into four areas with three different reflections on each. The four over arching themes are God (purple), Crime and Punishment (red), Social Justice (green) and Environmental Justice (blue). 

The students were given the freedom to choose which order they visited the stations in - the only restriction was that there could not be more than three people on each station. They were given an iPod and headphones at the beginning, which had the reflection for each station on it, so all they had to do was select the correct track which guided them through the activity. 

As the students went round the mat they explored a variety of different issues and ideas around the topic of justice, including refugees, homelessness, forgiveness, plastic ocean and the justice of God. These different topics gave each student the chance to reflect on two of our iMatter themes: I am responsible and I am loved. 

The Nicholas Breakspear Year 9 students had a great time going round the mat. They really took the opportunity to explore the mat for themselves and took time to reflect whilst listening to each of the tracks. Chris noted that they were so reflective at the end that they were completely silent whilst walking around the outside of the building to their next activity! 

A massive thank you to everyone on the Step team who sent in a reflection for the mat. The Justice Space Mat wouldn't have been the same without your tremendous effort and I certainly wouldn't have been able to create this without your support.

If you would like the chance to see the Justice Space Mat for yourself it will be up and running at the Step End of Year Celebration, which you are most welcome to. Click here for further details of the event. 

Helena :) 

Signing Up to Step Updates

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...please click here to subscribe to the updates you want to receive from us.

Sandringham Feed Collection Almost Predicts An England World Cup Win

Thank you to all those at Sandringham School who contributed to their latest collection for Feed, Vineyard Church's food bank. Over a 2-week period, students were bringing in items to help those in our community who need a bit of support for a variety of reasons. 

After the final collection on the Friday morning, they had collected 1966 items, giving us huge hopes it was a sign that England may just win the upcoming World Cup. However, 14 more items arrived later in the day to quash our hopes once more. It didn't quite beat their own record, or topple Verulam's record (see here for a list of our best collections)

The assemblies before the collection challenged the students to consider what it means to be rich, looking at the story of Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax collector who stole from others. Was Zacchaeus richer before his encounter with Jesus? Or was he richer afterwards, when he had discovered his true worth and the true worth of the poor and those he had cheated?

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Fabulous Fairtrade

We have had a fab time over the last couple of weeks thinking about Fairtrade with the Year 8's in Marlborough. The students have had a great time taking part in the Fairtrade game where they became factory workers for the session.

Each group represents a different country and their aim is to as make as much money from the trainers they sell as possible. The game is specifically set up to make things much easier for the UK and USA than the other countries. The first indication the students have of this is when we tell them that not all the countries own their own branding that Bangladesh and Ghana have to give 50% of their profit to the UK and Tanzania and the Dominican Republic have to give 50% of their profit to the USA. 

With other incidents such as natural disasters, rising resource prices etc. the students have a thoroughly entreating half and hour trying to make as many trainers as they can to make as much money as they can. 

On Monday we had what is believed to be a record breaking number of trainers made along with some of the highest money making wins we have seen (See photo below). What is interesting to reflect from this though is that Ghana who nearly made the same number of trainer as the UK made £1,276 less than the UK. Even Bangladesh who made more trainers than the UK made over £1000 less than them. 

The students are able to reflect on the results and their experience  and can nearly always see that the game wasn't fair, (though you do sometimes get someone on the winning team insisting that the game was fair). They are then able to understand that the game is designed to reflect what sometimes goes on in the world and that Fairtrade is there to try to bring the balance back.

We run this lesson regularly throughout the school year. If you are interested in seeing this lesson for yourself and would like to volunteer with Step then click here for further information.

Blessings, Helena :)

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Mental Health Awareness Week

This week, Helena and I were trained in youth mental health first aid. 

It just so happened that the training fell during Mental Health Awareness Week, which seemed appropriate. But with 1 in 4 of us in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, there’s never a bad time to learn more about mental ill health and how we can help ourselves and each other. 

Several of us at Step have completed the training so that we’re better prepared to support the hundreds of young people we interact with. The course also gave me advice on how to take care of my own mental health, and reminded me to look out for friends, family and colleagues around me who might be struggling. 

We talk a lot at Step about how every single person matters. We’ve even got a campaign about it, which gives us a nice excuse to talk about it more.

And when we say that every person matters, that includes you. So whether you’re 12 years old or 112, if you’re battling with mental ill health and need help then please tell someone because you shouldn’t have to handle it on your own – you matter too much for that.

Below are just some of the organisations that offer resources and advice …

… for young people:

YoungMinds

STEM4

ChildLine

Kooth

… for adults working with young people:

MindEd

The OLLIE Foundation

The Department for Education

 

… for all of us:

Mind 

Mental Health Foundation 

Mental Health First Aid England 

Action for Happiness 

Samaritans 

Spread the word and don't forget to take care of yourself, too.

Sara

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Introducing The Step Experience

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Step is excited to launch The Step Experience (formally Academy) in September. We want to form a community of people who are at a change point in their lives, who would like to use this time to look outwards as well as inwards. Your age and experience does not matter, we are looking for people of  passion and character.

 

The Step experience is a focused way of engaging with Step and its mission whilst taking time to reflect with others on the personal impact of these experiences. Those in the community will have an opportunity to gather with each other weekly and also assist Step staff running some our key ministries. 

 

We see this initiative as a vital part of Step’s next stage of growth. If you are interested in finding out more about The Step Experience please contact Terrie. We are launching the community is September; so don’t take too long considering whether to join.

Back on my bike for Step

On Sunday (13th) I completed a 10 mile charity cycle ride in St Albans to raise funds for Step. There is still time to sponsor me by following the link below. If I raise a further £180 I will complete the 20 mile route next year. If I raise a further £680 I will complete the 30 mile route next year. The choice is yours, please follow the link to donate to have your say:

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/helenastepcycle

Blessings, Helena :) 

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Prayer is Powerful - Come and join us this Wednesday evening..

St Helens Church family in Wheathampstead are our hosts this term. We want to extend the invitation to you to join us to pray between 7:30pm and 9:00pm. The Step team have suggested a few things that would be great to seek God for and in groups we will take some time to pray through them.

We would be as joyful as this Quokka to see you!  (100% genuine smile from the happiest animal on earth!)

Have a blessed and happy Monday, Charlotte.

 

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