For Sponsors and Funders
Who We Are
We base ourselves in local communities and work with churches, schools and other agencies to provide the best opportunities for young people and communities to find their purpose and their voice.
We believe changing lives by transforming culture is possible – and we want to show you how.
Our Object as a Charity
What We Do
We believe changing lives by transforming culture is possible. Below are some of the ways we do this, within Covid19 restrictions we have been able to redesign much of our work so that it can continue in covid safe ways …
We provide an experience of what grass roots mission, youth and community work is really like. Working in a smaller team means interns get to be a part of all every part of our work, from washing up to youth work programs.
We have learnt how to shift culture so lives are transformed – we’re excited to show you how. Our training and resources come from a culmination of 60 years at the coalface of youth and community work, and mission.
Each local team enjoys rhythms of shared life together; working, praying, eating, learning and planning together. As a national team we ‘meet’ every two months for at least a day of fellowship, equipping and planning for the season ahead.
The Impact We Have Had
We believe it is possible to shift culture at the heart of a community and here’s what we’ve seen so far…
Culture Change in Schools
For a few years, we have worked intensively with our local Secondary School investing about 40 hours a week in students who are at risk of permanent exclusion. This has been an incredibly rewarding period during which we have made a significant difference in both staff and young people’s lives and seen first-hand what life is like for many households and teenagers in our community.
We implemented a new reward and sanction procedure that led to a more affirming culture and reduced conflict between staff and students.
We delivered training in Restorative Practices for staff and support team at the Alternative Provision Unit, which helped to support the new culture that was developing.
6 out of 8 Year 10 and 11 students completed a Level 1 Certificate in Skills for Training, Employment and Personal Development. 2 of whom were offered apprenticeships with the local council.
We worked closely with approximately 20 students from Year 7 through to Year 11. This was done by providing one on one support as well as delivering classes and small group sessions on subjects such as bullying, anger management and restorative practice in dealing with conflict.
We supported teachers and TAs through practical classroom help, debriefing and collaborating to create management plans for students.
In the year 2018/19 153 young people had regular contact with us through an average of 92hours per month of youth work (not just schools work in Reading).
Making a Difference in the Community
The Dealing With Depression Course provides a service to both those who suffer with depression and those who care for them. Participants who have completed the course have gone on to get more involved in the community, helping with SYC and other local organisations. Our Community Dinners have sprung out of the DWD course as a place where those who struggle with isolation can gather at the local pub on the last Friday of each month, to share a meal and connect with others in a safe environment.
The Families Course has had parents and grandparents, and aunties participating, thus serving to link members of the community across generations. We run the course at a local primary school making it accessible to parents whose children attend the school and impacting the school community. The name of the course has circumvented stigma to do with classical parenting courses and means that some families have been reached who perhaps would not otherwise be helped.
The South Reading Fun Day is attended by 4000-6000 members of the community. It is one of the few if not the only community event that is attended by entire families from all corners of Whitley and South Reading. Some have reported how they have had historical feuds resolved as a result of connecting at one of these Fun Days. Others comment how they just love to come and connect with their neighbours, whilst still others are amazed to meet near neighbours for the first time. The Fun Days and Street Parties are very practical ways in which the community can come together to make, build and repair connections.
In 2018/19 we ran 5 festivals and street parties attended by 1098 people.
Our Partners in the Work
We have had the privilege of working in genuine partnership with a number of organisations and their representatives as we carry out our youth work and community work in our various locations. Here are a few of those:
Reading Borough Council: The Parks and Green Spaces team have made our Re:Start Program with students at risk of exclusion possible. Two of their team join us each day of the program to teach the students horticulture skills and familiarise them with what it might mean to become and apprentice with them. This partnership in turn put RBC in the running for gold in the Britain in Bloom national contest… which we are glad to say they achieved. The Neighbourhood Initiatives Officers from the Council have been exceptional colleagues and friends from the day we moved to South Reading; introducing us to relevant networks, advising us on processes and helping us access funding and support. They in turn made use of our research report to inform their strategy in the area for 2 or 3 years.
The Alternative Provision Unit at our local Secondary School in South Reading. The staff here invited us to support them in their work with students at risk of exclusion. We joined their team and enjoyed a great partnership sharing skills, knowledge and support each day on the unit.
Reach: This is a Reading-based Schools Work charity that has partnered with us in our work with students at risk of exclusion in the local Secondary School. From the school’s perspective we are one team; in fact the team going into the school is made up of both SYC and Reach staff and volunteers. The partnership provides high levels of support, shared knowledge and shared networks.
Chapter 2: A local charity that works to mentor boys growing up without a father-figure. The founder of this charity has been a youth work mentor on the Re:start team with us, doing great work with our students.
Reading Voluntary Action: Through this organisation, we have recruited two of our administrators and all our bookkeepers to date! Our Street Parties Manual has been a resource to them as they support and encourage community members across Reading to run Street Parties where they live. This partnership continues to grow in encouraging ways.
The South Reading Churches: This is the group of churches that initially invited SYC to base ourselves in South Reading. We partner with them in local community work including the events like the South Reading Churches Fun Day.
The Parish of St. Agnes, St. Paul and St. Barnabas: The Anglican churches in the parish have been proud partners of our work. They took the lead in inviting SYC to relocate to South Reading and assist with local youth and community mission; they have been faithful and generous financial supporters of our work. They continue to be energetic in their commitment to local mission in partnership with us.
Tyndale Baptist Church: We have our office in their building and pay a reduced rent; but they are incredibly generous permitting us to utilise their premises at no extra cost for courses and events that we run.
Reading Lion’s Club: We are very grateful to the Lion’s Club who have helped to fund our Re:Start program and our Festival Trailer.
Springboard: A Reading-based grant making trust that has supported our Re:Start program for 2 years.
Making a Difference in Individuals' Lives
In 2018/19 258 kids had regular contact with us through an average of 14hours per month of kids work.
6 students from the local Secondary School, received a Level 1 qualification and the option of positive references from Reading Borough Council, even though they may not have achieved any GCSEs of grade C or higher.
2 of our volunteer administrators have commenced paid employment as a result of our recommendation and in one case as a result of positive mentoring received from us has built up self esteem, confidence and skill.
Our interns have each engaged in a rigorous journey of personal growth and discipleship which has enabled them to intentionally adopt new values which have impacted their decision making processes.
All those who attended our Families course said they felt more confident in their parenting by the end of the course. A quote from one parent: “The most important thing about this course was learning new skills to use at home and seeing my family differently.”
Feedback from our Dealing With Depression course include: “Reintegrating into society with fellow sufferers has helped me to make the first step out of my self-made cocoon.” “I can now make better choices!” “This course has helped me see that there is hope, and there is light at the end of the tunnel”
Releasing in Mission
In 2018/19 256 people including families and local councils participated in our training events, courses and conferences of which we held 13.
A reflection from one of our interns: “This internship has taught me so much and I have really learned how to press into a more intentional prayer life. I have also seen what it really means to live in community and to help equip believers and non-believers to reach their full potential as God created it to be.”
We run our Foundations for Personal, Community and Cultural Transformation every spring in Reading and in Albania or Greece every year in August. A participant recently shared: “I think through this course, God is giving me the tools to communicate more effectively to people about Jesus & help His Kingdom grow.”
Each summer, we run holiday kids clubs in a number of the communities where we operate. These cater for primary school aged kids, however we always have a band of teenagers who are part of the team helping to run small groups, craft activities, dramas and story telling. We mentor these teens in leadership and in how to care for those around them.
A number of people we work with have been introduced to Street Parties as a way to bring their neighbours together and build a stronger sense of community over time. We have a festival trailer which community members can borrow and we are often available to support either first timers or groups whose street parties have grown particularly well.
Church at the Heart of the Community
In South Reading, the local church leaders commissioned SYC to work with them to develop and coordinate a Joint Mission Strategy for reaching the teenagers in the community and the families of young kids.
For more than 10 years, the churches in South Reading have organised an annual summer fun day in Whitley with our support. This event is loved by the local community and brings into focus the many ways in which the local churches are a blessing in Whitley.
In communities across the country, we have helped churches come together across denominational divides to put on Fun Days and Street Parties. These gather the whole community together and encourage people to connect with each other, in the long term they help build a healthy culture and social cohesion in the community. This becomes a strong platform on which churches can build further community work and mission.
Looking Ahead to 2022
This year in South Reading, we plan to divide our youth work between the Secondary School and after school programs so we can have even greater, long term impact in the lives of these young people and others like them in our community.
You will have seen much in the news about County Lines drug runs. Young people are most likely to be recruited for this ‘work’ between the school gate and home front door; those who are most at risk have chaotic home lives and are at best unhappy at school; at worst, excluded. Many young people in our community are prime targets for recruiters and risks have increased during Covid lockdown, so we want to respond further to this need.
- We will continue working with students in the school who are at risk of isolation, unhealthy relationships or exclusion, and those whose home life makes normal functioning a challenge.
- We will start running programs for young people after school hours, engaging particularly with those who avoid going home and those who are not in school. We have already started detached youth work in the community.
We are raising funds for a Youth Café bus as a mobile base for our after schools program.
In South Reading, SYC’s particular focus is to support Fun Days and street parties, and to run parenting and dealing with depression courses; we also help to coordinate the churches joint mission strategy in the area. Through all these things we hope to equip individuals to adopt healthy values and shape the culture around them.
For more than 10 years, the churches in South Reading have organised an annual summer fun day in Whitley.
In 2020 SYC stepped up to coordinate a Covid safe Funday Out the Front with everyone connected via a local radio station – it was an amazing success you can read about it in the news section of our webiste.
This year we are setting up a community online radio station (with a view to progressing to digital broadcasting) that will have broadcasters from the local high school and community; this will help us to continue running covid safe community events which engage even more members of the community than before.
We are excited to recruit more community volunteers and deliver more training, so that church and non-church volunteers are even more equipped to shape healthy culture not just on the day but also in their own homes and streets.
This year we have plans to build a team of trained community members who can help deliver the Families Course in local primary schools. We also will continue to deliver the Dealing with Depression Course which is receiving referrals from other support services in the community.
Making All This Happen
All of these things are driven by a dedicated (small) team of admin, youth, and community workers from our office in Whitley. Since our start in 2005, SYC has been run by volunteers who are all self-supported. As the financial climate has changed over the years, it has become increasingly challenging for team to raise sufficient support to cover basic living costs long term; it has also become difficult to recruit new long term team. Our work is growing not ending, and we need a happy, growing, dedicated, team to carry out the work long term. We have decided to raise funds, so that every volunteer can receive increasing nemuneration for the next 2 or 3 years. This is with a view to raising enough funds over that time to eventually provide salaries for all team. We need another 2 long term youth workers and 1 long term community worker each working at least 20 hours a week for us to carry out our plans well.
Our Sustainability Plan
Short Term: Marketing
Short Term: Recruitment and Fundraising
Long Term: The Haven
The Haven is an income generating conference and training centre where young people at risk of exclusion can obtain vocational qualifications such as Hospitality, Catering, Baristry, Radio Broadcasting and Horticulture. Additionally, there will be space for small businesses and artisans, a retreat centre and separate accommodation for missionary families and teams.
Professionalism and Transparency
Staff and Trustees
We have recently transferred from Sage software to Xero on line software which means that all relevant members of staff and Trustees will be able to view our finances at any given time. We are in the process of updating our Financial Policies to reflect some of these changes.
Get in touch
For more information on how we can work with you please get in touch