“Where are we going? The “Jesus” Centre? To help homeless people? “
“So, a religious place with a sombre atmosphere, where they give out food and drink? We won’t have much in common with them. I usually think ‘stranger danger” when I see homeless people on the street.“
These were some of the thoughts going through the minds of the seven young people of Team Reiss as they made their way to the Coventry Jesus Centre in July 2018.
Every year thousands of young people aged 15 to 17 take part in National Citizen Service during their summer holidays. Coventry Jesus Centre has been pleased to host some of them for their community project for several years.
This year Amy, Ashley, Charlie, Jack, Julia, Liam and Sharna (Team Reiss), with their teacher Martina, came to three Your Space activity afternoons. Instead of the place of their fears they say they found a homely, fun, welcoming atmosphere, with people who are very good at ping pong.
Liam says, “I was impressed by the facilities you have got: pool; ping-pong; games. It’s something for them to look forward to.”
The teenagers spent two afternoons getting to know people, with time to play games and chat with the usual range of visitors to Your Space. They found that people were open and happy to talk with them. People who were actually, “as nice and normal as we are. It’s easier to empathise now we have got to know them.”
On the third afternoon they had brought some activities of their own for people to join in with. As they were getting set up I asked them what their hopes were for the afternoon: “To have a lot of fun. If they enjoy it, that’s a win,” they said.
A few days later we received a Thank You Card with the words: ‘As a team we enjoyed seeing the behind-the-scenes of charity work in our area. It helped us feel like a useful part of our community.’ Team Reiss.
Their teacher Martina said, “I am really proud of them”. And so are we. It is so good to give these youngsters a chance to experience a different side to life. One of our regular volunteers this year had come some years before as part of a Citizen Service team!
We wish the members of Team Reiss all the best for their future.