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Why is bullying still so common in our schools? Looking for solutions for young people in Harrogate…

Following on from our last month’s post on youth loneliness, today’s blog post focuses on a topic that still needs a huge amount of attention brought to it: Bullying. Most commonly defined as “behaviour that intentionally hurts someone else”. Loneliness is a closely linked issue at hand.

Bullying can be manifested in many different forms, whether that be verbal abuse, emotional abuse or physical assault. More recently of course, with the increase in access to social media sites, cyber-bullying has become the more prevalent way of hurting others.

As a student in my final years of secondary education, I have unfortunately been a witness to a fair share of bullying among my peer group and I strongly stand by the fact that this problem needs to be tackled head on.

According to a recent survey, it was found that 45% of young people experience bullying before the age of 18. That’s almost 1 in 2 children. It was also reported that 7 in 10 young people have been victims of cyberbullying. Not only is this deeply troubling, it really highlights the enormity of bullying in today’s society.

There are so many direct effects of both bullying and cyber-bullying, including loneliness. Any form of bullying can make a child feel especially vulnerable and isolated, and they often feel unable to reach out to anyone due to the fear of ‘making it worse’. This isolation can then result in mental health issues like anxiety or depression, with some devastating outcomes, such as self-harm.

It has been found that 30% of young people turn to self-harming as a coping mechanism.

In the saddest of cases, suicide is seen as the only option by these young people, with 10% having attempted it after being bullied.

So, after so much research, after so many articles, why is bullying still so common in our schools?

Despite many schools having a zero-tolerance on bullying, it is still too easy for many bullies to get away with it. The victims are often too afraid to speak out for themselves . Sometimes schools simply aren’t aware of the serious implications for children being bullied. Bullies often find any and every reason to pick on others, whether that’s things such as people’s race, sexuality, gender – or even victims being shyer or more introverted than them.

It’s worth remembering though that more often than not, bullies feel the need to be abusive towards others, because they are struggling themselves. It puts them in a situation of control, when in their personal life, they may not be. They often have their own insecurity issues, leading them to inflict their negativity onto others.

You may be wondering, what are we going to do to help?

At the Hub, we hope to be part of the solution, working alongside other agencies in our area. The Hub is currently in conversation with local youth leaders and agencies to seek practical answers. If you would like to join the discussion, please get in touch at harrogatehub@gmail.com. We are also working with Harrogate youth leaders to trial a new youth project. Over August, we are welcoming young people into the Hub on Monday evenings. We provide pastoral care and a place for those affected by bullying to feel safe and valued. We want young people to know there’s somewhere to turn when they’re struggling at school. At the Hub, we provide a place where they can talk through their problems in confidence.


Are you a young person who is feeling isolated or do you know someone who is? Please drop into the Hub 4-6pm on Mondays in August*. You will find a safe space to be yourself and talk things through.

*except for bank holiday Monday (27th August)

Written by Amelia Ashbrook

Edited by Ella Green

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Journeys at the Harrogate Hub – insights from Jo-Ann, the Director

Sarah’s* Journey

Sarah came to the Hub a year ago. She was very honest about her mental health difficulties and found engaging in social situations extremely challenging. Sarah needed to feel safe. Her diagnosis of her mental disorder is characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to understand reality. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, hearing voices that others do not, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and a lack of motivation.

Since attending the Hub, Sarah has become more relaxed and has a greater sense of peace. She says she feels valued and accepted, safe and peaceful. Without the Hub Sarah says her life is fraught with loneliness which isolates her with her voices. Sarah has increased motivation and engages well with pastoral carers at the Hub. Sarah is not as confused as she used to be and regularly tells us she is happy and well.

Sarah’s journey is a long one with carers at the Hub. They are walking beside her, enabling her to feel loved, valued and secure. Without this she would be continually filled with anxiety and confusion. Instead she has found compassion, love and a safe space.


Ben* started his journey with the Hub over a year ago.

Ben was signposted to us by his CPN. He arrived one day feeling very subdued and suicidal. Life for Ben is not straightforward. His story is one of loss, betrayal, illness and breakdown. Ben is in his fifties. He lost all real purpose in his life when he became ill and his wife began seeing someone else while continuing to live in the family home. Ben’s story is one of confusion and sorrow as he comes to terms with his loss; the loss of his physical health, his mental illness, and the love of his life abusing his situation. She is verbally aggressive and shows no care for his feelings. Unable to make clear decisions and being too unwell to take any action, Ben has suffered greatly. Each week he has sought strength form the pastoral carers at the Hub.

Over the weeks and months, Ben has begun to understand God’s love for him. He is taking strength from beginning a new journey to a new life, even though the old life is still very present. The Hub and its carers are providing a strength that is gradually enabling Ben to see beyond his current situation. He is realising there is a better future ahead.

We continue to support Ben each week on this journey to wellness. He no longer feels his life is hopeless but is now more hopeful, but remains quite fearful of his future. As he gets stronger he is beginning to accept that he is worth so much more than he thought when he first came to us for help. He no longer feels despair.


William and his wife Louise* have recently moved into the area to be close to family.

Louise has dementia and William called into the Hub to find out what support was available for them in the district. He spoke of how lonely he was and how difficult it was for him to have time to do things and go shopping or do the banking. He was lonely for conversation too. Louise loved being in the company of others and engaging in crafts.

The Hub was able to signpost him to several day centres for people with dementia thanks to the work of Dementia Forward; talk to him about Caring for the Elderly and their fun day’s out; and tell him of a private care provider working in the area who could provide respite when he needed to go out.

William was delighted that there was so much in the district to help him care for Louise. He left feeling both relief and joy. We asked him to call in again for a cuppa and conversation as we would be happy to see them both again.


Some of our journeys are very long as we walk with people trying to rebuild their lives from painful and often very messy beginnings.

We are reminded that Jesus never gives up on us. It cost him all he had to walk life’s pathway with us.

“If your brother asks you for your coat,” Jesus advised, “give him your tunic as well. If you ask God for a fish, would he give you a stone? Go and do likewise.”

So here at the Hub we do. We journey with the lost, the lonely, the broken and marginalised for as long as it takes and we are making a difference.

If after reading these journeys you would like to volunteer to be a pastoral carer at Harrogate Hub, please get in touch with us as we would love to hear from you. We provide training and fellowship as you journey with us.

Email: harrogatehub@gmail.com  Tel: 01423 369393

* names have been changed for confidentiality

 

Written by Jo-Ann Hughes, Executive Director, Harrogate Hub

Edited by Ella Green

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Youth Loneliness: what’s really causing it?

Recently, there has been a growing awareness of and political interest in loneliness as a significant social problem.

At the Hub, we want to continue to raise awareness of this issue that affects our whole community. (You can check out our previous blog posts on this important subject here.)

In the past, reports have focused on the social isolation of older age groups, perhaps due to our ageing population. Yet contrary to assumptions about loneliness being a consequence of ageing, it seems that young people are at the epicentre of the crisis. A recent study says that young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups.

The research found that almost 10% of people aged 16 to 24 were “always or often” lonely – the highest proportion of any age group.

(The Office for National Statistics)

So why is this happening? The common conclusion jumped to by the media and politicians alike is that social media is the root of this problem. And thus social platforms like SnapChat and Instagram are vilified, as well as the youth themselves, who can’t seem to drag themselves away from lit-up phone screens. But is this really the main issue? Author and campaigner Natasha Devon MBE suggests that “it’s easier to park every teenage mental health concern with social media – then nobody is to blame.”

The subject of loneliness is sometimes defined as “a discrepancy between what you want in terms of social relationships and what you have.” Social media unfortunately widens the gap between this desire and reality as teens feel the pressure to succeed in every area of life, including friendships. But it’s hard to find the time to focus on school, friendships, extra-curricular activities and family life. Many teenagers feel they are failing to achieve the standards required of them in our busy society. Often at least one of these areas is overlooked in favour of prioritising academic success.

“62-70% of teenagers say it really matters to them what grades they get”. They want to “make their parents proud”, says Natasha Kizzie, an executive director of the National Citizen Service. “They’re far more engaged. They’re highly preoccupied by their academic performance and their future job prospects.”

This means that they spend less time building meaningful and supportive relationships. Social media lowers rates of face-to-face contact, which can harm a child’s communication and social skills. Without a trusted support network, many teenagers may find themselves lost and without guidance when facing personal struggles.

So how are we working to bring about change?

Since the Hub opened in January, we’ve had people of all ages, from 18 to 90, coming through our doors. At the Hub, our pastoral carers provide a listening ear and friendship. Our welcome centre is a safe environment for those feeling isolated to share the challenges of life and find community. We understand that anyone can feel lonely or isolated. And we recognise the damaging impact it can have on both your life and your health.

But now we’d like to reach out further to the isolated youth in our community. The Hub soon hopes to open its doors for an evening a week to provide pastoral care to young people. We want to give love and care to those who are facing challenges at home, struggling with school, or suffering from a severe loss of self-esteem.

‘Young people are the hope for the future in the making.’

‘They need to be shown that they matter, that they are valued’, says Jo-Ann Hughes, Hub Executive Director. ‘They need positive role models who demonstrate how to develop healthy attitudes and caring relationships. All too common now is the issue of self-harm and anxiety. Our youth need to know who to trust, where to turn for healthy advice and reassurance. This is why we would like to open our doors to teenagers for safe mentoring at the Harrogate Hub.’


What do you think are the causes of youth loneliness? Join the conversation on our twitter, facebook, or instagram page…
Would you, your youth group, or business like to fundraise for our youth project? Please get in touch and we can send you our fundraising pack, and share more about our work with you. Or if you would like to volunteer as a pastoral carer, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Written by Grace Hart

Edited by Ella Green

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A day in the life of the Harrogate Hub – find out what happens behind the scenes!

Ever wondered what a day at the Hub looks like?! Well here’s a glimpse behind the scenes….
The day starts at 9am. 

I’m too short to reach the lock on the Hub front door, so I have to clamber up the wall slightly. (I get a few funny looks from passers-by.) Jo-Ann, the Hub Director soon joins me in the office and we begin with prayer to prepare us for the day ahead.

9.30am A day in life, Harrogate Hub, Biscuits

Our pastoral carers start to arrive. Today Gwen arrives first – she’s our biscuit-hero and she’s brought a new batch of biscuits for our visitors to enjoy. This makes me very happy (because I get to enjoy them too!) I recommend coming in to try one of her biscuits (or several!)…She’s become quite famous in Harrogate for her baking talents.

10am

Laughter drifts down the stairs from the middle floor. You can always tell when Lynda and Benny have arrived in the building -they bring a lot of joy with them! They are both pastoral carers and they’ve come to set up for the “Real You” course they’re running.

Our regular visitors arrive soon after for the course. These are a group of women who have faced huge challenges in their lives, and each of them have begun a healing journey at the Hub; some have been coming for a few weeks, and some for months. They’ve joined the course to explore questions of identity, faith and self-worth. It’s been amazing to see them grow in self-esteem and friendship over the weeks and months.

Meanwhile, downstairs in our welcome centre, visitors start to arrive for pastoral care. Gwen, Jo-Ann and I are busy welcoming people through the door and making cups of tea and coffee. There’s a real buzz as people start to engage in lively conversation; people are smiling and starting to open up. Jo-Ann sits on the sofa with a young woman having a heart-to-heart, and on our table, we’re talking about our hobbies, whilst enjoying some free entertainment from a curious toddler who’s taking in all the new sights and sounds.

Some have come to the Hub simply for company and friendship, others have stories of grief, mental illness, abuse, and hardship to share and are in need of a listening ear, and some come wanting to find out what activities are being offered by local community groups and churches. It’s good to see people’s spirits lifting as they receive kindness and attention; it feels like there’s a real sense of hope and warmth in the room. We have 7 visitors in all, one of whom has returned specially to thank us for the way we’ve helped someone in her family.

12.00

It’s time to close for lunch (although I’m not massively hungry due to my biscuit consumption…) Once everyone has left, Gwen, Jo-Ann and I spend a few minutes praying. Some of the stories we hear are really heartbreaking and so our prayer time gives us a chance to lay down any burdens we’re carrying.

Someone knocks on the Hub door even though we’re closed and Jo-Ann has to apologise and ask him to come back at 2pm. We’re in the process of rearranging our pastoral care timetable to ensure that we can help as many people as possible. It’s always hard having to turn people away, but we haven’t yet got enough volunteers to be able to keep the Hub open all day. (If you’d like to become a pastoral carer, please get in touch!)

1pm

After lunch, Jo-Ann heads off for a meeting with the Harrogate Borough Council to discuss how we can bless them as they serve town. It’s an exciting opportunity to find out how we can work together to make sure that no one in our community feels forgotten, hopeless, or isolated.

2pm

At the Hub, we have a slightly quieter afternoon. Carol and Sherry are our pastoral carers for the 2-4pm session. A couple of people have made appointments with them and come in for a confidential conversation in the little room at the back. And one of our regular visitors also comes in for a cuppa and a chat; our volunteers are helping her build her confidence and take steps towards her goals at a time when things are changing in her life.

Whilst Carol and Sherry welcome visitors downstairs, I spend the afternoon in the office to plan a talk about the Hub that I’m giving at a local youth group. I’ll be sharing with them about our new youth project and asking them to join us in fundraising for it. The plan is to provide pastoral care to vulnerable young people on an evening at the Hub. If your youth group is interested in fundraising for the project or if you’d like to become a pastoral carer for the project, we’d love to hear from you.

3pm

We’re visited by one of the staff from Harrogate theatre. They’re putting on a show, ‘100 ways to tie a shoe lace’, which explores memory loss in a light-hearted and real way. It’s great to hear about shows like this, which help tackle issues that can sometimes be stigmatised in our community. Part of my job, as Charity Officer is to help raise awareness of the struggles faced by people in our town.

Harrogate has a ‘Happygate’ façade, which sometimes makes it hard for those who are struggling to seek the support they need. It’s easy to feel like everyone else is leading the perfect, idyllic Harrogate life, and so part of our mission at the Hub is to encourage people in our community that it’s ok to ask for help.

Everyone goes through seasons of great difficulty and we’re here for people whatever challenges they’re facing.

4pm

The Hub closes its doors, and Richard, one of our dedicated volunteers, starts cleaning and tidying up. I have a little chat with Carol and Sherry before they head off.

5pm

A day in the life, Harrogate Hub, open doorI’ve finished my work in the office and Richard has made the Hub look all sparkly, clean and tidy! On my way out, I clamber up the wall again to lock the Hub door (cue more funny looks from passers-by). It’s been a busy day, but a very positive one. It’s so encouraging to see that more people are hearing about the Hub’s services and finding a place of community and hope here.

If you could help us spread the word about the Hub, please drop in and pick up some of our posters or bookmarks. Or if you’re online, have a look at our social media pages, follow us, and share our news with your friends. Together, we can shape a community, where no one has to suffer alone and where everyone feels loved and valued.

twitter.com/thehubHG1   www.instagram.com/theharrogatehub/   www.facebook.com/TheHarrogateHub/

Written by

Ella Green

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“There’s more to life than current pressures” – Being a young person in Harrogate

Teenage years. Often labelled as awkward and slightly dysfunctional. You’re treated differently; you’re not quite an adult but you’re definitely not a child anymore. Pressures start with school, revision, homework, exams….

That’s not even to mention relationship issues, underage drinking, peer pressure, parties, puberty, social media and mental health. The list is endless.

Teenagehood? Perhaps it should be renamed teenage-should. Young people are often swamped by a constant instructions of ‘dos and don’ts’ that life throws at them. There’s a need to fit in and it’s hard to know how.

With the use of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, this ongoing pressure continues outside of the classroom.

A recent enquiry led by MPs and top children’s charities, revealed the addictive nature of social media. One in ten (9%) young people surveyed admitted to logging on after midnight every night and one young person said it was “almost like a drug”. Young people expressed that they feel “judged and inadequate if they didn’t have enough likes or followers.”

The enquiry also noted that young people who use social media a lot of the time are more likely to have ‘low wellbeing and symptoms of anxiety and depression.’

In fact, according to YoungMinds, 1 in 5 young adults and 1 in 10 children (that’s roughly 3 children in every classroom) have a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Rob is a youth leader and a local secondary school teacher from Harrogate. He said:

There is definitely an increase in exam stress and pressure to do well. This pressure often has a negative impact on social development.

And if schoolwork isn’t hard enough, he added: “Outside of the classroom, everything is focussed on phones, especially Snapchat. This has an adverse affect on teenagers’ perceptions on not only themselves but also the world around them.”

In a town like Harrogate, there’s not a lot for young people to do.

They can often get stuck in the ‘routine of life’ of school, homework, tea, social media, bed. Many young people don’t know how to talk about their problems and may isolate themselves or get stuck in a rut.

It is estimated that in the Harrogate and Rural District, there are 4645 children and young people between the age of 5 and 19 with a mental disorder. (Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group, 2015).

Rob sees young people struggling with society’s burdens everyday. He said: “I’d like to tell teenagers to remember that there is more to life than their current pressures and that no one should face issues alone. There’s always someone to talk to and the more we talk about it, the more these issues can be tackled together.”

The Hub soon hopes to open its doors on an evening once a week to provide pastoral care and mentoring support to young people. We want to show love and care to those who are struggling at school, facing challenges at home, or suffering from a severe loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.

 ‘Young people are the hope for the future in the making. They need to be shown that they matter, that they are valued’, says Jo-Ann Hughes, Hub Executive Director. ‘They need positive role models who demonstrate how to develop healthy attitudes and caring relationships. All too common now is the issue of self-harm and anxiety. Our children need to know who to trust, where to turn for healthy advice and reassurance. This is why we would like to open our doors to teenagers for safe mentoring at the Harrogate Hub.’

Could you help us provide support for young people?

We are looking for youth groups who want to give some of their time and creativity to fundraise for the Hub’s work with vulnerable young people. Through partnering with us, local young people will be helping to support their peers. Together we can see lives transformed across the community.

If you would be interested in fundraising for the work of the Harrogate Hub, would like to give on a monthly basis, or have experience in working with young people and would like to volunteer, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and find out about your heart for young people in Harrogate.

And if you have any further thoughts on the kinds of challenges facing teenagers in our local area, please do comment or engage with us on social media. We want to raise awareness of the hidden needs in our town to build a stronger, healthier community, where no one has to suffer in silence.

You can join the discussion on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Written by Rachel Williams

Edited by Ella Green

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Christmas angels fly far and wide!

Our knitted angels have been causing a bit of a stir in Harrogate!

If you haven’t already seen or heard about our knitted angels, then do drop by and have a look at our beautiful window display. You can also take an angel home with you, or you could give one to someone as a present this Christmas.

Our Knit and Natter group, along with other knitters around Harrogate (and beyond!) have knitted 100s of these angels, each with a little message from the Hub, to spread hope and love this Christmas. You can read more about the project here.

Lots of passers-by have been standing and staring at the Hub window! And since we’ve started giving out the angels, we’ve heard all sorts of stories, and met people from all over the place.

We’ve had visitors from:

  • the local area – Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, Spofforth, Bradford and Leeds
  • Newcastle, Northumberland, Cambridge, Durham, Manchester.
  • Scotland and Wales
  • Germany, Spain, the Netherlands
  • And even New Zealand!!!
People have been taking angels for all sorts of reasons this Christmas.

We’ve heard stories of joy and sadness. One visitor told us they’d lost an angel from their Church knitted nativity scene, and so we provided them with a new one! Another person came in to collect an angel for a relative, who’d recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. They wanted to give them a message of hope and love.

Another visitor wanted to take an angel so they could start a project at their church. And others have come in to take away angels as gifts for their children.

It’s also been wonderful to see people’s generosity. Many visitors have been giving us donations for their angels, which is helping us raise money for our work.

You can watch a video and read an article about our angels project over at the Harrogate Advertiser website. They came to visit us when we first completed our window and have helped us raise awareness of our work.

If you know someone who might be feeling lonely or sad, or struggling in some way this Christmas, why not drop into the Hub and pick up an angel for them? We want everyone in Harrogate to know they are loved and not alone; to know there is somewhere to turn when life becomes a struggle. 

Sending you all Christmas greetings from the Harrogate Hub!

 

Written by Ella Green

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Loneliness: the big health risk and unspoken issue in Harrogate

It’s hard to believe that people could ever feel lonely in England’s ex-happiest place to live.

Unfortunately, it’s a sad truth that often gets forgotten about in Harrogate’s daily hustle-bustle, thriving businesses and stream of tearooms and bars. Our busy social scene can masquerade the worrying reality that there are lots of lonely people in our town.

In fact, three quarters of people in Yorkshire and the Humber say that they have suffered with loneliness, according to recent research by the Yorkshire Post in partnership with the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Here at Harrogate Hub, we aim to combat these issues by reaching out to our community, because no-one in our town should be lonely, isolated or unsupported.

We have people coming through our doors with a whole variety of issues, from people needing help filling in forms to people who are suffering abuse, but by far the biggest need we see is loneliness.

Our friends over at Supporting Older People, based at East Parade’s Community House, share our passion for helping those in need.

Julia Lightfoot, who is Home Visiting and Activities Manger at the 30-year-old charity, said: “There’s a massive loneliness issue in Harrogate because it’s an aging town; a lot of people’s friends and family members have died.

“When people are a unit, like a husband and wife, it’s great… but when one of them passes away, the other is left thinking ‘what do I do now’?

The ‘what do I do now?’ moment is something that almost everybody will go through and will inevitably start to feel lonely.

Julia said that taking the initial step is often the hardest step for people, especially men, who often bottle up how they’re feeling.

At the Harrogate Hub, we’re also seeing younger people suffering from loneliness too.

Since, we opened in January, we’ve had people of all ages, from 18 to 90, coming through our doors.

Caroline Hurren, who is a pastoral carer at the Harrogate Hub, said: “Some people walk in before we’re even officially open and then they stay for the entire time. You wonder how long they’d stay if we didn’t have to close.

Several regulars have said it’s an absolute luxury to have a conversation, not just to be listened to, but to have a laugh as well. We’re not just meeting needs, we’re offering friendship.”

Not only is loneliness an often-overlooked issue, it is classified as a serious health issue.

“Chronic loneliness is cutting lives short, and the problem is growing”, said RCGP chair Professor Stokes- Lampard in her opening speech at the college’s annual conference.

Being lonely is worse for you than obesity and is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

In the speech she gave in Liverpool at the beginning of last month, she called on the four governments of the UK to increase funding for general practice in order to give GPs ‘time to care’.

Health-care professionals are starting to signpost people to the Hub, because we are not time limited. We can provide long-term support, walking alongside people for as long as they need it and welcoming them into community.

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, fully supports the call for GPs needing time to care. She said: “Our recent research with the LSE found that for every £1 spent on tackling loneliness, up to £3 can be saved in health costs – and GPs can play a huge part in identifying the older people who need help. We want all GPs to be able to spot the signs of loneliness, and would encourage GP surgeries – where possible – to link up with local services that tackle loneliness.

“We also need commissioners to fund the early interventions and services that will stop lonely people needing to go see their GPs in the first place. The health and economic benefits for tackling loneliness in older people are clear. Now, we need action.”

One way to help prevent this, according to Supporting Older People, is simple human contact.

Julia said: “It’s having that human voice to break up the monotony of the day. I have people who say all they do is stare at the same four walls every day. Having someone there breaks up their day, gives them a new face and a new aspect.”

The charity has around 70 volunteers. Many of them are matched as home-visitors to go to people’s homes and have a chat with them once a week.

They also host a range of activities from ‘tea and talk’, ‘singing group’ to frequent outings.

Young or old, anyone can feel lonely or isolated and it’s not a nice feeling at all. It can often engulf your life without even realising it; not to mention the impact it has on your health.

If you’re feeling lonely, why not pop in and see us at Harrogate Hub. Likewise, you can contact Supporting Older People.

Both charities are also looking for more volunteers. With the end of the year approaching, maybe you could make it your new year’s resolution to help combat loneliness in our town.

Article links:

Read more at: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/campaigns/new-research-reveals-extent-of-loneliness-and-shows-just-how-much-money-interventions-can-save-1-8763590

http://www.gponline.com/read-professor-helen-stokes-lampards-rcgp-conference-2017-speech-full/article/1447175

https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org

Written by Rachel Williams
Edited by Ella Green

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Simply the best biscuit-maker in the world!

This week I got to meet the lovely Gwen, one of the pastoral carers at the Hub.

I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that she is also our oldest pastoral carer. She’s introduced to me as “the best biscuit-maker ever!” The Hub certainly seems to attract some great bakers (just check out our facebook posts for proof of all the baked delights we’ve been given!)

Gwen found out about the Harrogate Hub through her church, Kairos, and decided to go on the training course to become a pastoral carer. “I thought it would be a good way to help people, because there are just so many lonely people. I chat to people on the bus and most people like to talk, but a lot of people don’t have time to listen.”

At the Hub, Gwen works alongside other pastoral carers at the Hub, who come from different churches across Harrogate. “It’s good fellowship and we can learn from one another. We all show each other a lot of love.” (I find out that some of this ‘learning’ includes Gwen giving Yorkshire dialect lessons to Vernon, one of our pastoral carers, who comes from America!)

Pastoral carers, friendship at the Harrogate Hub

Before Gwen moved to Harrogate, she was a pastoral friend and visitor at her previous church.

“I’ll go on as long as I can. There’s no age limit to being a pastoral carer. It’s been rewarding when people have come into the Hub and we’ve been able to help them.”

If you’d like to help at the Hub, whether you’re 18 or 80, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

harrogatehub.office@gmail.com

 

By Ella Green, Charity Officer

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June Update

Want to find out what’s happening at the Hub, take a look at our latest newsletter!

 

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Being a pastoral carer

Our pastoral carers are trained volunteers, who give up their time to welcome people into the Hub and listen to their stories. I recently had the chance to catch up with Sherry, one of our dedicated pastoral carers. She told me about her experience of volunteering at the Hub. 

Why did you get involved with the Hub?

There was a time at my church, where we were seeking a vision, and I spent time at church mediating and praying, asking God, ‘What is Church about?” As I was praying I found myself looking at a stained glass window representing Matthew 25:34-46, where Jesus talks about the importance of looking after those who are in need: “When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?… The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

It struck me powerfully that this is what the church is called to do. It’s very practical. We need to care for people and love them. I really caught this vision and wanted to see it become a reality. When I heard a talk about the Harrogate Hub, I was inspired by it. I filled in the survey they handed out, ticking nearly all of the boxes, so I could help in any way needed! (well, apart from admin!) I’m a practical person. I used to be a nurse, and I believe God uses the gifts you have, so I came for an interview at the Hub, did the pastoral care training course in July and started as a carer in November.

What is your role as pastoral carer?

As a pastoral carer, I simply listen to people. Some people just need to talk things out. And sometimes people need specific help, so we signpost other resources and services that might help them. There’s always hope to bring them out of the darkness. We want to care for people like Jesus does. As a pastoral carer, you just want to help make things better for people.

How have you found your time volunteering here so far?

It’s so good to see everybody start talking to each other and share their stories. Some people who have come to the Hub, have come back time and time again. And it’s great that some people who have received help, no longer need to come back anymore.


Interview by Ella Green, Charity Officer

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