Over the past year the YCW has continued with its mission to train young leaders; serving, educating and representing other young people in their places of work or study and in their local communities by living out the Gospel through their actions.
We have had a busy year visiting and training groups all over the country, especially in our target regions of the North West and North East. We have especially been impressed with the number of new groups being formed and developed alongside our existing groups both of which are doing impressive work such as: refugee sponsorship, foodbank appeals, mental health awareness, supporting homelessness services and tackling environmental issues.
At National Council in April, we were sad to see Becca Henderson, long serving National Secretary, leave the National Team and we thank her for her service. In place of Becca we welcomed Ben Sinclair as National Secretary and in addition to this, Sean Smith has undertaken the role of National Treasurer. We hope you keep them all in your prayers.
A key part of our growing number of groups has been the identification and training of adult companions and chaplains to accompany the new groups emerging. We have held over the year a number of training events for our adult companions and chaplains these involved talks on youth loneliness and sharing good practices by introducing new adult companions and chaplains to more experienced ones.
We have continued to further develop training of young people by establishing a leadership programme called “Be the Difference!”. The purpose of this programme is to give young people a definitive pathway to becoming a YCW leader. The programme is designed to help young people develop leadership qualities and skills through a programme of 12 units, each with 3 stages. The National Team will arrange for a Recognition Ceremony, either locally or regionally, for groups of new leaders. But more about this award in the New Year!
The HQ has hosted several NEC and Trustee meetings over the year, allowing the National Team the time to plan and prepare the activities of the year and discuss the future vision of the YCW and IMPACT! in England and Wales. We have also hosted a number of existing and new groups at HQ and will look to continue bringing young people together from different areas in order to continue the solidarity of the YCW and IMPACT! in our country.
During the course of the year our focus has been on our National Campaign called MIND! The Gap. We are now within the ACT stage of the Method and having analysed the responses to our online survey are working up a variety of actions for the movement to lead on. In particular, we feel that increasingly mental health is closely linked to the whole question of the environment and communities we inhabit, a point that Pope Francis repeatedly makes in “Laudato Si”. Therefore, out of this project, one of the things we are exploring is a practical scheme to transform the garden which surrounds our HQ into a place of relaxation, peace and community for the workers, parishioners, young people in the area and all YCW members.
Throughout the year we have continued our close involvement with other projects and organisations across England and Wales and within the Diocese of Salford, where our HQ is situated. The YCW remains a member of the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed) and have attended its meetings. We continue our links with St Antony’s Centre by participating in conferences on the world of work, such as the European Group for Workers’ Pastoral Care (GEPO) focusing on the “Social Europe, Workers’ Movements and Social Dialogue - A Common Vision for the European Social Foundation.”
We have also worked alongside the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and the Centre for Catholic Social Thought and Practice to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Trade Union Congress, which focused on the theme “Working for a Better Future”. We also participated in Liturgies held within St Antony’s Church, including: Remembrance Sunday, Lenten Masses and Christmas Carol Services. A highlight of this year was the Adoramus conference held in Liverpool in which our National President, Kate Wilkinson, was part of the planning committee for the youth conference that took place within the main conference.
We are also partnered with the charity called ‘Million Minutes’ to sponsor an award named in honour of our founder, Joseph Cardijn. We've had several groups and members win recognition for their wonderful work and are very proud to see them achieve such success.
We still remain a member of the ICYCW and coordinating Movement for the European Commission and in which we have represented the International and European Team at meetings held in Rome mainly for the 1st General Coordination Meeting (GCM) of the ICYCW and also at a conference at the Vatican on “Laudato Si” where our Training & Development Worker personally met Pope Francis.
Following on from last year’s successful 80th year celebration we are further developing our links with past members with a group involved looking at ways we can really engage with people and also our new monthly newsletter has helped engage with former members. We are sad to hear that the Cardijn Association will no longer be running we thank them for their prayers and generous donations. We also would like to thank the MCW with their continued support.
We hope that you will continue to pray for the Movement as we enter 2019 a year in which the Trade Union Congress has dedicated to young people. We hope that the young people continue their great work and also our adult companions and chaplains keep supporting them through their faith journey as Cardijn once said “everything by the young people but nothing without the chaplain”.