Blizzards, tea and life conundrums: my first month at Step

Where does the time go?! It feels as if my first day as a Schools Co-ordinator was about 5 minutes ago, but I have in fact been part of the Step family for a whole month now.

So what have I learnt during my first month in the new job?

1. There are not enough tea drinkers in Christian youth ministry. I’ve met loads of lovely people over the last few weeks, from my new colleagues to volunteers to friends of Step, and am growing increasingly concerned about the general preference for coffee over tea. I’m working hard to convert the Coffee Contingent and will keep you updated on my progress there.

2. It takes more than weather – even a spell of Arctic weather so ferocious that it earns a catchy name – to put a halt to Step’s work.

3. Year 8 students are a fascinating bunch of philosophers. A couple of weeks ago I ran several Ultimate Questions lessons, which gave students the chance to wrestle with conundrums of life, the universe and God. A mind-boggling session, for me as well as for the teenagers!

4. It is absolutely true that no two days (or even hours) in a school are the same.

5. I’m not quite as proficient at Skittleball of Doom as I used to be. I discovered this sad fact during the Year 7 Community Day at Townsend (Helena has written more about the day below) and have determined to train hard in preparation for next year.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next month brings, and rather desperately hoping that it isn’t more blizzards.



Year 7 Worship Lessons in Roundwood Park

Last week the Step team lead the last lesson on the topic of Worship with Year 7 at Roundwood Park. It was wonderful to bring them the opportunity to explore the different ways that Christians worship God. The students and the teachers enjoyed the worship experiences we brought to them and as a team we all were encouraged by the intrigue the students showed. This was the first time the team had met Year 7 and so what a great way to begin their journey with Step!

The first two stations are shown in the images below, For station 1 the students explore the Lords prayer and its use to enable a Christian to join in with a prayer that is said all over the world. Station 2 explores Joy as a vehicle for prayer and praise, they mould Play-Doh to creatively express Joy. 

Townsend Craft Club

Had a lovely lunch time at the Townsend craft club. It was nice to be able to spend sometime getting creative with the students as we created our hammer beads designs. I opted for a very simple design of a rainbow effect (see first picture) but the students were very creative. Some deigning the Bangladesh flag, a pineapple and even sonic the hedgehog. It gave me a great chance to catch up with how the students weeks had been and sadly had to disappoint a few students by telling them I wasn't going to be in their lesson teaching them this week. Very much looking forward to next week when we will be creating clay rabbits and chicks. 

Helena :) 

The Emmaus Centre

The Emmaus Centre is a building dedicated the the chaplaincy work in Nicholas Breakspear School. It has three spaces: a cafe, a counselling room and a prayer room. The cafe is used daily by roughly 18 students and the other two rooms are available through appointment or by requesting some space and time to reflect. It also has its own tarmac area outside with some garden furniture. 

The Emmaus Centre has been used to run the Alpha Course, Step’s Leadership Course, Tough Stuff Course, Chaplaincy sessions, class reflections and gatherings for the Christians in the school. The biggest limitation on this space is staffing rather than opportunity. It would be good to use the space for more of these activities, but we need more volunteers to facilitate this happening. Ideally we would like 3 people in Emmaus every lunchtime. This would enable us to open the cafe, run courses and also keep the prayer room open.

If you would like to contribute games, furniture or resources to improve the students experiences in the Emmaus Centre, please do contact Chris through the contacts page. If you would like to be even more involved and help staff the centre occassionally, please do not hesitate to contact us to find out more of what it would involve.

Sandringham CU Explore Why God is Real

Sandringham's Christian Union, which meet on a Tuesday lunchtime should anyone be interested in joining, have started a series looking at why people believe in God to help them communicate their faith to others, giving a reason for their hope but in a gentle and respectful way (1 Peter 3:15). This week we had a look at creation and how the things God has made reveals a designer. Over the next few weeks we will look at religious experiences, conscience and Christ and how each one of them gives us assurance that God is real. 

Townsend Year 7 Community Day Retreat

We had a fantastic day with the Year 7's at Townsend C of E School last Thursday spending the whole day looking at community with them. They got to explore four workshops through the day. Community Challenge got them to think about what community is and why it is important on a very local level. The Fair-trade lesson gave the students a chance to think about how fair things are between our global communities. Build a Village gave them a chance to be creative and create either a British village or a Zimbabwean village or paint some images of what represent community for them. Which gave them a chance to think about what makes up a community. The final workshop they got involved in was Team Building Games which they thoroughly enjoyed taking part in. 

We spent some time at the beginning and end of the day discussing community in relation to our iMatter themes I am connected and I am responsible. Sharing with the students about God creating Eve as a companion for Adam, that we are connected and part of a community. We also thought about the parable of The Good Samaritan and the message it teaches us about loving our neighbour. Then we linked this with I am responsible, thinking about how we are all responsible for caring for people in our community because we are called to love our neighbour. 

The students thoroughly enjoyed the day with many of them saying they loved competing in the team games and the fair-trade game. One student said, "The session I enjoyed the most was the team games because it was fun to do things in a group rather than on your own." Another said, "The session I enjoyed the most was Community Challenge because I was able to use my imagination."

This day was only possible with the support of a fantastic team of volunteers who worked fabulously with the students all day making every session run smoothly. It was through their dedication and effort that the students were able to have such an enjoyable and valuable enrichment day. 

Below are some of the fantastic pieces of art work the students created in the Build a Village workshop. 

Helena :) 


Townsend Feelin' Good Week Cafe

Had a fab week spending lunch times with the Townsend students thinking about Feelin' Good Week. The students enjoyed making Positive Bracelets, playing games and exploring our Mr Potato Heads resource. When looking at Mr Potato Head with the UV torches the students could see he had unkind words written on him. This then led to discussions about the impact words can have on us. The students particularly enjoyed games of Giant Jenga and building elaborate marble run designs. The photos below illustrate a bit of what we got up to. 

Helena :)


A new Schools Coordinator and a new School

St Albans and Harpenden contain 17 secondary schools which Step believes it would be good to support. Because we have wanted to do a good job, our work in schools has always been limited by our ability to coordinate it properly. With this in mind, we have tried to extend our work in schools through growing our team. 

Last week our newest Schools Coordinator Sara Martin joined us full time. Sara replaced Tim Sandford, who was part time. Considering Sara had more hours than Tim, we approached Loreto College and asked them if we could use some of Sara's hours with them. They have said yes, and we will be starting working with their sixth form next month.

Step now is working with 14 of the 17 local secondary schools. To be affective in all the schools we are supporting we are still looking for many more volunteers to mentor, teach, make drinks, write material, listen and stack chairs. If you would like to volunteer with Step, please contact Terrie to find out more.

Visiting Park Street Baptist Church

At the beginning of Half-Term Helena and I went to visit Park Street Baptist Church, It was great to spend time with this wonderful church family and talk with them about Step.

At the moment we have been teaching a lesson on 'Stress' with year 11's in some of the schools. Helena and I felt it would be great to unpack the lesson and share some of the insights from it as well as which iMatter theme we have been using. It to be able to share the why behind what we have been teaching and invite the church to hear Christian truths shared in a different way. The photo below is a collection of things the church were asked to write in response to the question,   'What three things are you thankful for?', This is something we have been asking Yr11's to ponder in the midst of their studying to gain different perspective. 

One of the Deacons has sent us a lovey comment about our visit, She said, 'I think it gave a great insight into the work STEP does in our local secondary schools and some of the issues you are supporting our young people with.' 

Thanks Park Street family, 

Charlotte Barton :)

Hope and New Beginnings display board update at Townsend

Step is delighted that it has the opportunity to regularly update one of the Townsend C of E School display boards and Helena had an enjoyable time this morning updating its new theme after her Prejudice lesson with Year 9. The theme comes from an assembly Step did at the beginning of term thinking about the start of a New Year and the hopes we may have. The assembly had a strong focus on the power of words and we looked at James 3:5-8 and its vivid description of the power of the tongue. Our hope for the students is that they think about the words they are saying to one another before they use them and that they choose words which build each other up, rather than knock each other down. For sticks can break our bones, but words can break our hearts and if we're not careful can shatter our dreams.


Step Rep Dinner

One of the main ways that Step communicates about its vision and work with the local churches is through 'Step Reps'. On Wednesday 10th January we gathered our Step Reps and had a wonderful evening of food, laughter and sharing about Step. The hope is that they will be informed and equipped to share about Step in their churches. If you would like to find out more about representing Step at your church please do write to Geoff at to find out more.

New Year and new starts

2018 has started with a bang for Step. By 1pm Step had taught nine different lessons. The day commenced with 6 different sixth form lessons running at the same time in one school and two lessons happening in another. The team then went onto teach a new lesson at a new school. The new lesson explores whether the bible empowers women in their era, or because of the bible -  women find themselves disempowered. The students asked some great questions and the team were given space to share how the bible influences their day-to-day lives and relationships.


21st December is the application deadline for the Schools Coordinator Vacancy

Step is looking to expand its team of Schools Coordinators by appointing a full or part-time worker. 

A Schools Coordinator usually works with three schools and is the main person linking the work of Step with the local churches and youth workers. The primary responsibilities in school are to develop relationships with staff and students, to book lessons and other activities and to lead and organise the volunteers in delivering the programme.  The new worker will work alongside existing Schools Coordinators and will report to the Step Director, Chris Birch-Evans, who himself has responsibility for several schools.

We are looking for a committed Christian who is dynamic, able to lead, motivate and organise volunteers in a very flexible and creative environment, and enthusiastically promote Step to staff, schools management and local churches. Our ideal candidate will have some experience of schools work and youth work, can demonstrate competence in a classroom, and has managed others.


If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in joining the team, please do contact or for further details related to this opportunity. Please note that the deadline for final applications is 21st December. The advert can be found by clicking here.


The Tough Stuff Course starts in January

Nicholas Breakspear Catholic Church and Step will be starting a Tough Stuff course in January. 
Sadly, we all face tough stuff in life, whether it is bereavement, moving home of family breakdown. When it happens we are often unprepared and left spinning. Step believes young people should be supported through this time. 

The Listening People have created a fantastic course to give students resilience and skills to individually and as a group, walk through these tough times. Step will take a small group of self selecting students through six to eight weeks of exploring feelings and emotions attached to loss and bereavement. The aim is to facilitate them, individually and as a group, into developing coping and supporting techniques. Our hope is after the group disbands they will continue to help each other and also reach out to others and share something of what they have learnt.