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

With GDPR in full force, we have had a big sort out of our database and mailing systems. All our current supporters should have received an email or letter regarding the changes. If for whatever reason... 

  • you haven't heard from us (email could have gone into spam or you've moved house)
  • you haven't got round to responding but still want us to keep in touch with you,
  • or you are a new supporter and want to sign up to updates

...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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Alpha starts for year 7

On 9th May a new Alpha Course will start at Nicholas Breakspear School. During their lunchtime 20 students will explore ideas around life, faith and meaning. The students first encountered Alpha on retreat when they first joined the school. During the retreat they attended a workshop exploring one of the Alpha Courses sessions. Through out the year they have asked to see more of the videos. Finally we managed to make it happen, and it starts today.

Do contact us if you would like to find out more how you could help and support this work.

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Step's Church Roadshow

Between Easter and the Summer Holidays, Step will have visited 13 different churches to share updates about our work and on most of those occasions deliver the main talk as well. 

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Yesterday, we got the pleasure of visiting our friends at Ashley Church and hopefully inspire people to join in with God's mission, whether that is through volunteering with Step or in other ways, by being good news to the poor, rescuing those who are held captive, restoring that which is broken and sharing the wonderful news of God's redemption. 

If you go to a local church and would like Step to visit, please do get in touch

“We have grown through it!”

Nine brave young people recently completed Tough Stuff, a course created by At A Loss focusing on supporting those experiencing grief and loss. 

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These students spent 8 weeks exploring the grief process and considering ways to help themselves and support each other. Through sharing, reflecting and setting themselves challenges they considered how to grow through their loss, rather than simply go through it. 

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This is the 4th group of students to take the course in the school and each time students conclude the course they add a luggage label to the loss chair.

 

If you would like this course in your school, or would like to support students experiencing loss, please do contact us

 

Interesting People and their faith

Last week a Vice Admiral visited St Columba’s College with Step. His visit was part of a series of speakers exploring ‘Interesting People and their faith’.

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Vice Admiral Alan Richards was the Commander of an Aircraft Carrier Strike Group in 2004, but on 21st April 2018 he took on St Columba’s College Sixth Form. Alan led the boys through an exploration of the impact of his Christian faith has on his life, choices and how it brings assurance during suffering.

Several key messages stood out:
Working in the Armed Forces is exciting
Christianity isn’t what the media tells us. It’s not about the latest scandal - it ’s about following Jesus and his teachings
Christianity isn’t an insurance policy when you die, its assurance whilst you live.

Step will be taking several other Interesting people and their views on faith into school. If you think you have a story to tell, please do contact us to discuss it further.

Step's Brand New Lesson

We are always updating our lessons and we are so excited about a new double lesson, being taught in Verulam this week on the Incarnation, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. Students have been reflecting on what they would have done had they been God coming to Earth in human form and comparing that to what Jesus did. They have explored how the story of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe can help them understand the death and resurrection of Jesus (adapted from an existing Step lesson), and finally see how the tradition of a Jewish wedding in Jesus' time can relate to his ascension, preparing a place for us and his ultimate return. We have had lots of fun, some amazing questions and we are only half way through the week!!! Below are a few pictures of the activities they have been engaged in.  

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Helena's getting back on her bike for Step!!!

After not using my bike for a long distance for well over 10 years I have decided it is time dust off the cobwebs and get back on my bike to raise funds for Step. On Sunday 13th May I will be taking part in the St Albans Charity Cycle ride cycling 10 miles for the first time in years!!!

I have been blessed to have Step in my life for many years and this is a great opportunity for me to give something back. I've been having an amazing time in my role as schools coordinator since I started in September and am so grateful to be part of this amazing team.

It is a complete privilege to be able to invest time in young people and to be able to share my faith with them. I have had so many highlights since I started that there are too many to mention but a few include the Townsend Yr7 Retreat Day, Ultimate Questions lessons with Yr8 at Marlborough and STAGS Women and Religion lessons.

Step is able to have a massive impact on many young peoples lives and continues to do so year on year working 14 out of the 17 local secondary schools. To achieve this, in the last year, Step has replaced two part time roles with two full time roles and the incremental cost of this is approximately £20,000 a year. It is with this in mind that I take on my challenge to help ensure that Step's fantastic work is able to continue for many generations to come. 

If you are interested in donating please follow the link: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/helenastepcycle

To make things a little more interesting, if I raise:
£500 I will cycle 20 miles in next year's event
£1250 I will cycle 30 miles in next year's event
£2000 I will cycle 40 miles in next year's event.  

Thank you for taking the time to read. I have attached a picture of my hardly used bike for your enjoyment. 

Helena :) 

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Ultimate Questions

Over the last half term I have enjoyed being part of and running 13 Ultimate Questions lessons across three different schools. These lessons got the students to think through the biggest questions of life. Such as, Is God real?, Do I have a purpose?, and Is there an afterlife?, along with many more. 

This resulted in some fantastic conversations with students who began to ponder through what they believe and why they believe it. It was fascinating to hear students' different ideas as they varied so much. Some deciding that we have no purpose and there is no point to life, where as others believing that God created and designed us for a purpose. It was a great opportunity to listen to different view points and share some of our own ideas in the process. 

I am really looking forward to the next set of these lessons I have coming up in STAGS after Easter. If you are interested in joining in the fun please do get in touch. 

Helena :) 

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Hello Loreto!

Recently, Loreto College became the latest of the 14 secondary schools in St Albans and Harpenden who have signed up to work with Step.

On 22nd March we delivered our very first session in Loreto: an hour's session with sixth form students on the topic of stress.

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In the midst of all the pressures that young people have to deal with, we wanted to give them time and space to focus on their own wellbeing. We also wanted to equip them with ways to manage stress and anxiety.

One group of students spent the session learning about circles of control, which is all about finding the balance between broadening your influence over things in your life that cause anxiety, and accepting the things you can’t control. They also explored the idea of ourselves as springs and thought about the ‘weights’ or stressors that may be pulling us out of shape.

The other group spent time on a space mat. If you haven’t seen one of our space mats before, it’s made up of four large triangles of coloured material. Each triangle has 3 unique sections with activities to help the students reflect on stress and try out different coping techniques. There's further information about our space mats here, if you'd like to know more.

What I love about the space mat is the freedom it gives students to engage with a topic in their own way. Some decided to work round the mat with friends and others preferred to do the activities by themselves, but everyone got stuck in and hopefully took something useful away from the experience.

It was very exciting to meet the lovely staff at the school and to work with their fabulous students. We hope that this is the start of lots more Step activity in Loreto, so watch this space! 

 Students made paper chains that describe a situation where the future is unknown, their worst case scenario in that situation, and a possible positive solution or outcome

Students made paper chains that describe a situation where the future is unknown, their worst case scenario in that situation, and a possible positive solution or outcome