Preston Develops Another New IMPACT Group

A new IMPACT group has been set up at St Cecilia’s High School in Longridge, Preston.

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Following a visit from National Training and Development Worker, Marc Besford, with School Chaplain, Ann Bretherton, there was an initial meeting of young people held to look at what the YCW is and does. It was also an opportunity to explore the realities of the young people and what they would like to explore through the SEE-JUDGE-ACT Method.

A major issue being raised by young people all across the country is climate change and the environment. In fact, we have seen in recent times young leaders emerging through the “School Strike for Climate” movement. Therefore, it was no surprise when the young people at St Cecilia’s decide to look at these issues, and how they could begin to make a difference locally.

Marc Besford congratulated the Group on their formation, saying: “It is great to see another new IMPACT Group being set up. The young people at St Cecilia’s are enthusiastic about being the difference on matters they care passionately about and I hope to be able to visit again soon to see what progress they are making.”

80th National Council Held

The YCW in England and Wales held its 80th National Council last month in Trafford Park. It was a well attended day, drawing young leaders, Companions and Chaplains from across the country.

The day began with welcomes, introductions and prayers - led by Mgr. John Marsland, National Chaplain - using the YCW Prayer as a means of reflection towards the day ahead, but also the year of work behind us all.

We were also joined by Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, who spoke of his support for the work of the YCW and his wish that we continue our work across his Diocese but also the rest of the country. Afterwards, the Bishop said: “I am impressed by the energy and sense of commitment of the young people. This is precisely the age group that we hear all too much about as drifting from the Church” and encouraged parishes to look at setting up Groups.

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Following the opening remarks, Kate Wilkinson, gave her President’s report - outlining all that has happened since the last National Council. She took the members through the current 1 year action plan and 3 year strategic aims, which guides the work of the NEC over the year. Kate also announced that after 2 years at the helm, she would be stepping down as President.

Before the election of a new President, there was some business to do first. This involved approving the accounts put before the members by Sean Smith the National Treasurer.

With the accounts approved, the process of electing a new President began. There was only one nomination - for current National Training and Development Worker, Marc Besford. Marc gave a short speech outlining why he wanted to stand for the position and some of the experience he has. The vote to elect Marc was unanimous and he will take office officially in July to allow for a period of transition into the role.

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In response to his election Marc said: “It is truly an honour to be elected as President of the YCW in England and Wales. This movement has given me so much over the past few years and I look forward to giving back as much as I can. Kate had done a fantastic job over the past 2 years and so I also want to thank her for everything she has done.”

Kate wished Marc well on his election, saying: “I have worked alongside Marc on the NEC and know of his passion and commitment to the movement. He is well placed to keep it growing and developing in the coming years.”

The National Council also gave the NEC an opportunity to launch the YCW’s new leadership programme - Be The Difference - which aims to draw together the many ways that a young person can develop their leadership skills through the YCW.

In the afternoon session of the day, those assembled welcomed Kevin Flanagan along to speak about the trade union roots of the YCW. Kevin is the Director of St Anthony’s Centre for Church and Industry and a former YCW leader. The topic was chosen because the Trades Union Congress has chosen this year to focus on young workers.

Kevin gave a barnstorming presentation, highlighting how the YCW began as the “Trade Union Youth” and grew out of this deep connection between young workers and the message of the Gospels. Weaving in quotes from Cardijn and various Papal encyclicals, Kevin focused on how the core principles of Catholic Social Teaching mean we have to express our solidarity with workers through support of Trade Unions and the dignity of work.

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For the final part of the day, the young leaders split off from the adult companions/chaplains and each group went through some training sessions.

The young leaders looked at the idea of leadership, including the different ways in which one can be a leader and the important skills found in leaders. This involved looking specifically at how Jesus calls us all to be Christian leaders and how we can live this out each day amongst our family, friends and work colleagues.

The adult companions explored more deeply the units within the leadership programme and discussed how they could best help the young leaders work their way through it.

Finally, the day ended with Mass in St Anthony’s Church.

HQ Garden Project Gets Further Endorsement

Following on from the successful visit to our local MP, Kate Green, to discuss the idea of our MIND! The Gap Garden Project action, the National Team has received further support from our local Ward Councillors.

Councillors David Action and Laurence Walsh visited our HQ to have a look at the plans for the Garden and offer their support for the scheme. One of the items was how we could work together to help any fundraising efforts, including access to any local community funding.

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There was also a chance to discuss how the Garden - once completed - could be promoted to the local community and used by those who perhaps work in the area. A key component of the scheme is that it becomes a space away from the busy, industrial surroundings, where workers can enjoy some peace and quiet.

This was inspired by the words of Pope Francis when he said: “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.”

Speaking about the meeting, Marc Besford said: “It was really helpful to meet up with our local Councillors and we thank them for taking the time to come over and see our plans. We want to use this project as a means of creating more of a community around our HQ and so it is great to have growing support for it.”

New IMPACT Group Launches In Oldham

A new IMPACT Group has been launched at Newman College, Catholic High School in Oldham. Following an appeal for students interested in finding out more information on what IMPACT and the YCW is all about, about a dozen pupils met with representatives from the National Team.

They held their first meeting and did an introductory exercise into the YCW Method of SEE-JUDGE-ACT by examining a range of injustices and discussed in groups how they would rank these. This allowed the young people to then debate why their group had chosen their particular set of rankings, drawing on principles of dignity, rights, solidarity and care for the poor.

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Once this exercise had got the young people enthused, they were then asked to reflect on their own reality and the issues they felt were important to them, their peers and their local community.

There were many contributions from the young people and they ranged from homelessness and poverty, to social cohesion and generational divides. These issues will be the basis for future meetings of the Group to work through as they develop their understanding of the Method.

Marc Besford, National Training and Development Worker, reflected on his visit, saying: “It was inspiring to see so many enthusiastic young leaders come together to join the movement. They have taken their first steps to understanding how they are not to be ignored or simply told what to care about, they are leaders who should be guided by their reality and the truth of faith. I hope to visit again in the near future to see how they are progressing.”

St Monica's IMPACT Group in Flixton ACT To Protect The Environment

One of the central aspects of the YCW as a movement, is that it empowers young people to SEE the world around them, JUDGE that reality in light of the Gospels and then enables them to ACT as the change our world needs.

This Method has served the YCW well since its inception and in England and Wales we are always hearing of our Groups developing their own leadership through it.

One recent example was St Monica’s Impact group in Flixton. Following on from Salford Diocese’s Bishop, John Arnold, who wrote a letter to all praishes asking them to thinking about our world in light of Laudato Si, the Group took their first step towards answering that call.

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Following a discussion they decided to spend part of their meeting time clearing the church car park of rubbish, which was later taken to the recycling centre. This is their first step and have many more actions in mind.

Marc Besford, National Training and Development Worker, congratulated the Group, saying: “For many people, they see the problems within the world and feel unable to do anything about it - even something quite small. However, through the YCW we believe that we are all called to be leaders and take responsibility for being the difference. The Group have made a great start here and I look forward to hearing more about what they have planned soon.”

NEC And Trustees Meet To Review And Plan

The YCW Trustees and NEC have gathered together to review the progress of the movement, discuss current plans and prepare for the exciting future ahead, including the upcoming 80th National Council on the 23rd March.

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As for any charity, the issue of financial sustainability is paramount and the Trustees examined the latest accounts and projections for the YCW in England and Wales. Updates were given around the charitable grants being sought from funders across the country but also the more sustainable means of regular giving. The finances will be put before the National Council to be scrutinised and approved.

In particular, the funding of the YCW Garden Project was discussed and the plans in place to phase the delivery of this as funding became available. We hope to see positive news on this over the coming year.

Following the Trustees meeting, the NEC took time to review the plans for the National Council. Alongside finance, there was a need to gather the latest position on group development, training, adult companions and the outcomes from the National Campaign on mental health and young people, called MIND! The Gap.

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The focus of the National Council this year will be “Leadership” and how we are all called to be leaders in our own lives. This would coincide with the official launch of our new Leadership Programme, in which young leaders would work develop their leadership skills through their YCW membership. More information on this programme will be shared with Groups, parishes and schools over the coming year.

Once the final bits of preparation for the National Council were complete, the NEC also looked at the resources we had available for young leaders over Lent. These resources are available on our webiste here.

Kate Wilkinson, National President of the YCW, said: “It is really valuable to meet up each month and talk through all that is going on within our movement. From new Groups to exciting plans for our HQ, we have so much to be getting on with! Please keep us in your prayers.”