Prior to the lockdown, my time with the Animate team had just flown by. I joined the team last September and was initially apprehensive about starting here, undertaking the twin challenges of working with young people and living in community. Yet the team were very supportive, helping me to grow in faith while working with over 10,000 young people in the space of one academic year.
My best experience to date has to be the mission week we had at St Gregory’s High School in Warrington. Spending a week in the school was intense but great fun and highly rewarding. The theme of that week was ‘Stand up and be counted’ and throughout the week we had a variety of challenges for the young people: they had to come on stage, stand up in front of the audience, and play games or act out dramas with the team. In short, an opportunity for the pupils to stand up and be counted in front of their peers.
Another great day, albeit very different, was spent at XII Apostles RC Primary School in Leigh. The pupils were just fantastic, and the staff too. They were Year 4, so I was a bit apprehensive because we don’t usually work with the lower year groups, but they listened respectfully when we were speaking to them and it was just an amazing day.
Living in community with the team has been such a great experience also. I have made some truly good friends throughout the year so far. They have supported me in the times when I was struggling with my work, and are always there to help and guide me. Also, the time we have spent together outside of work – such as going to the beach or visiting the Metropolitan Cathedral – has been amazing.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus outbreak, our activities have been put on hold. We don’t have any work with schools at the moment but instead we’ve spent time gardening, relaxing and doing fun stuff around the house. We’ve enjoyed spending this time with each other. We have also prayed for all those who have been afflicted by the virus in any way. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the world is back to normal and we can return to our usual day-to-day things.
This year has taught me to not shy away from things, to be strong and to embrace life as it comes. My favourite piece of scripture is Jeremiah 29:11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’ This helps me to remember that God does have a plan for me, which gives me hope in the times ahead and inspires me to face every challenge that comes my way.