Youth club bounces back
Lurgan’s High Street Methodist Church will use their award to help restart a cherished youth club which had brought fun and friendship to thousands of youngsters over the years until the Covid-19 pandemic forced its closure.
For more than two decades, teenagers had met at the church hall every Friday night to socialise, play games, and listen to music, but that all came to a grinding halt in early 2020.
For Youth Pastor Mark Hand, this was a real tragedy – and one he and the church are determined to reverse.
‘Before Covid the club was absolutely brilliant,’ said Mark. ‘It had been going for well-over twenty years, bringing together young people aged thirteen to eighteen, often with no church connection, from across the sectarian divide, and from all backgrounds.
‘Many of them had been excluded from other clubs or groups, so it was a really valuable safe space for them. We ran a programme which helped in their personal, social, and spiritual development, and we’d have guests in to share their own stories, or to provide workshops or activities. Many of our leaders had come back in adulthood to help run the club for the next generations of local kids, which in itself speaks volumes.
‘And a really important by-product of all of this, of course, was that many of the young people encountered Jesus through experiencing our volunteers’ words and actions.
‘Unfortunately, all the momentum was lost when the lockdowns came in. Lots of the youngsters have drifted away and lost contact, and of course there is a whole new group who have reached thirteen and beyond who have no history of attending.’
As Covid has become less of an issue, Mark and his colleagues have been preparing to relaunch the youth club – but that’s not as easy as it sounds.
‘We need to reconnect with past members and volunteers and offer them up-to-date training,’ said Mark. ‘We need to replace some of the equipment and resources, and to run a local publicity campaign.
‘The aim is to relaunch at the beginning of 2023, and the £1,500 award is a great foundation for that rebuilding process – it will enable us to offer that volunteer training, source new games, resources, and sports equipment, and really let people know that we’re back.
‘I can’t overstate how surprised and delighted to be a winner – we’re so pleased to be able to partner with Methodist Insurance in restarting the youth club.’