Ramone Charles tells us about how he and his youth work volunteers supported their young people through the transition to university - humbling and exciting stuff:
You’ve just had a gathering for your young people who’ve returned from University, what inspired that?
After using Fusion’s Trainer Pack we had a very successful send off to our friends who were going away to University in September. We were very happy with the way that it all worked out so afterwards the leaders of this meeting decided we would plan another event during Christmas to welcome back our Uni friends.
How did you keep in touch with those who left for uni?
We decided to split ourselves up and try and keep in regular contact with them either via Facebook, Twitter, Skype or over the phone. This worked really well and the students loved knowing that they had a team of people who cared about them to keep this up. An idea suggested to us by the students was that we send them some gifts once a term and so we did. It was only something small, just a few chocolate/sweet goodies… They all loved it.
It’s great that you had others from the church on board too, how did you connect them in with what you were doing?
Our church was fully on board with this. Whilst the students were away we drew up a list of all of those students at university and along with a picture and a little bit of information about what they are doing at university, we produced prayer leaflets and handed them out at church asking the church to regularly pray for these guys.
Tell us about the Christmas get together…
All of the contact during the term made it so easy to do. One of the leaders created a Facebook event at the start of December and we invited the students round to a leader’s house. After having a word with one of the team from Fusion about what we could do in that time, we ran the session and it was a success. We just went round the room and asked people to be open and honest about their first term at Uni and how they found it. People started to share their experiences even if they had a horrible first term or an amazing one. We did not just invite first years to this event, we invited all Uni students that we know in our church so people gave very different experiences. We had first years really experience what it is like to live as a Christian away from home and the struggles and joys that it brings. They told us that they received a lot of questions from friends but it has opened up some amazing conversations and already two girls have come to know Christ through our guys.
That’s great, have you got any plans for further activities with them?
In early January we are planning on having another gathering which will be more of a uni prep session, feeding the guys with some knowledge and sending them back into their mission fields at Uni. We are going to look through some student booklets from Fusion and really prepare them for going back. We are also going to throw a little party afterwards to celebrate them and the New Year. Then it will be back to uni for our friends and we will be trying to keep in contact with them as best as we can until Easter.