YCW Meets Hartlepool Youth Coordinator

The YCW National Team recently met up with the Hartlepool Catholic Churches Youth Coordinator, Ric Slater, to discuss the work of the YCW and how it could be further developed across the North East.

Currently, Hartlepool has the highest rate of 18-24 year olds unemployed in the Tees Valley - at 8.6% - and many more young people are suffering from low pay and insecure employment.

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At the core of the YCW is a commitment to promoting the dignity of work and especially for younger people who are frequently discriminated against and exploited. 

In fact, these issues were reflected in a document released by the Pre-Synodal Meeting of Young People, presented in the Vatican last month following a week-long meeting opened in the presence of Pope Francis. 

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It discussed the pressures of work and prospects for the future, saying:

In some parts of the world, the only way to attain a secure future is to receive higher education or work excessively. While this is a commonly held standard, it is not always possible due to a variety of circumstances young people find themselves in. This idea is a prevalent notion and has consequently affected our understanding of work.

Despite this reality, young people wish to affirm the inherent dignity of work. Sometimes, we end up discarding our dreams. We are too afraid, and some of us have stopped dreaming. This is seen in the many socio-economic pressures that can severely drain the sense of hope among young people. At times, we have not even had the opportunities to keep dreaming.

For this reason, young people seek to engage with and address the social justice issues of our time. We seek the opportunity to work towards building a better world.

End of Exam Season

As we approach the end of exam season for both GCSE and A-Level students, we hope that all young people who have sat them this year can relax and enjoy a break from their hard work.

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Exams are always a difficult time for young people and in our recent survey on mental health of 1093 young people who responded:

53.6% of those who had direct/indirect experience of mental health issues referenced "anxiety"; 45.7% "depression"; 17.3%"pressure/stress".

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It is therefore important that we keep young people in our prayers and give them support during these times.

We also want to wish all young people good luck with their results and whatever their future holds for them.

North East Visit to St Anthony's IMPACT Group

As part of the recent visit to the North East region of YCw and Impact Groups the National Team visited St Anthony’s Girls' Catholic Academy in Sunderland. 

They spoke with Sister Josepha, who is adult companion to the Impact! group, in order to get an update about the work of the group and listen to some of the future plans.

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The Group here were previously nominated for an award at Million Minutes in the category for young people who protect the dignity of workers. As runners-up St Anthony's had their tremendous work highlighted as an example for other young people to follow.

Fr John Marsland, National Chaplain of the YCW, praised the work of the Group saying: "These young people are a fantastic example of how using the the YCW method and building up skills in Christian leadership can make a massive difference. We hope to be back soon and hear more great things. Well done to them all!"

YCW Attends Caritas Social Action Network Meeting

Last week the YCW were invited to attend the Salford Diocese Social Action Network (DiSAN).

Not only is our HQ based in the Diocese but we have a growing number of Groups across the Diocese in schools and parishes since our move here 2 years ago.

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The meeting began by setting out the aims of DiSAN - that charities across the Diocese can meet up, share and work together to build partnerships to better help the people we serve.

Many of our YCW and Impact Groups already work within schools and parishes to support the work of our partners and so it was good to be able to help improve this.

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Following this, the meeting explored the opportunities around the Diocese's "Hope in the Future" initiative. This is an initiative designed to help grow the Church for future generations; and answer the call of Pope Francis for us all to be Missionary Disciples.

Mark Wiggin, CEO of Caritas Salford and Bishop John Arnold appealed for charities across Salford to help support the project. This included the relationships with schools and parishes - which the YCW has plenty of experience with - and what resources we may have to offer. 

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In response to the day, Marc Besford said: "The YCW is well placed to support the Diocese with training, advocacy and a unique offer for young people to develop their Christian leadership principles. We are grateful for the support shown to us by Salford Diocese and welcome the opportunity to work together on this exciting vision." 

National Team Visit Billingham YCW Group

This past week, Marc and Fr John from the National Team, spent several days visiting the North East YCW and Impact groups, as well as potential new groups that are being formed.

One of the first stops was with the Billingham YCW Group, where Marc was a member before moving down to work at the YCW Trafford Park HQ. The Group is based at the Parish of St Thomas of Canterbury.

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The group here have shown great commitment to the YCW over the years, culminating in them winning the Joseph Cardijn Award, for young people who protect the dignity of workers, at the Million Minutes Awards last November.

The Group at St Thomas of Canterbury were applauded for their "zeal for social justice and promoting the dignity of others." 

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Therefore, it was worthwhile seeing what more is being done to build upon this impressive record of authentic Christian action and grow the membership in the parish.

Marc Besford said: "It was fantastic to come back and visit the Group here in Billingham. I know from my time here that it is important we show our appreciation and support for their work from the National Team. I hope they can continue to be inspirational young leaders to their peers." 

IMPACT Resources For Groups

Central to the Young Christian Workers is the opportunity to come together and discuss important issues in the lives of young people. The realities of our members is what drives forward the movement.

That is why we produce essential resources for Groups to engage with and help kick-start the YCW method of SEE - JUDGE - ACT.

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We have separate resources for Impact and YCW Groups, with the latter currently being refreshed. 

However, our Impact ones are available and have already been bought by many of our groups and those interested in starting up new ones. 

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For IMPACT Companions there is a special guide on "The Art of Accompaniment" with a foreword by Rt. Rev. John Arnold, Bishop of Salford. It sets out the all-important role of the Companion in accompanying the young people on their journey of faith, letting them lead but being there to support them.

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For the Groups there is a separate Impact Handbook, which explores how, in Pope Francis' words, young people can "Be Builders of the World". It offers a plan to follow if you are starting new and some useful tools to help you on your way.

Kate Wilkinson, National President, said: "In the YCW movement, we believe that young people can do great things and that given the chance they can make a real difference to the world in which they live in and beyond. I would encourage anyone interested in our movement to buy our resources and start putting it into action."