Inspiring Hope Together
By Tim Evans - 18 September 2018
I remember my 21st birthday - just! I was just about to start my second year of university, living away from home for the first time. I was right at the beginning of my faith journey and was thinking about volunteering with Student Community Action to work with children and young people when term started. It felt like a new phase of my life, exciting and a little scary, taking what life had taught me to date but also discovering new things about myself with no idea about where it might lead.
Worth Unlimited has just turned 21 and in some ways I see parallels with that time in my own life. Over the past few months, we have been through a process self-examination, considering anew what we are about, who are we, what have we learnt, what this faith thing is about and how we want to be and act in the world. I didn't have all the answers then and we are not claiming that we do now. However, there are some things that we have learnt over the last 21 years, which have shaped our plans and dreams as we look to the future:
- Young people and communities are amazing! They are full of passions, skills, gifts and talents just waiting to be unlocked. They just need the right opportunities and relationships.
- Many young people get written off and then believe the worst about themselves for the rest of their lives.
- Relationships and community, not programmes or projects (whilst they have their place), are key to making a difference: being there - consistent, committed, local and over the long term - bringing who we are to what we do.
- It's a developmental journey with young people, enabling them to develop and grow, not a quick fix.
- Young people are waiting to be inspired about who they can be, what they can do and how the world could be ... and they often have much to teach us about that too.
- When young people grow up feeling that life is hopeful and offers possibilities; that dreams can be achieved; that they are part of something bigger than themselves; that they are welcome, included and that the rest of us couldn't do without them, they have the ability and motivation to change so many of the social issues around them that we all get worried about.
- An organisation cannot do this by itself. It has to function as an extended family, with ambassadors, supporters and partners; people who want to be part of bringing about hopeful change in the world.
Although the world has changed since Worth Unlimited started in 1997, much of the need we see hasn't. Too many young people still lose their potential to poor mental health, low self-esteem, homelessness, addiction, low educational attainment, lack of routes into work, getting involved with crime, lack of social networks, lack of positive role models and failing to discover their unique place in the world. As people of faith, as people of hope, we want to enable young people to overcome the barriers they face in their lives; to discover their passions, skills, gifts and talents; and to play their part in building community and a different kind of world.
Hope is not wishful thinking. It is a sure belief, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), an assurance that God is with us, for us and is restoring the whole of creation to a place of shalom - wholeness, harmony, completeness, community. Over the next few blogs we are going to unpack how an understanding of shalom shapes the work we do through in terms of well-being, justice and integrity.
When asked about what he thought would change the world, Ivan Illich replied:
"Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a new powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story, one so inclusive that it gathers all the bits of our past and our present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into the future so that we can take the next step… If you want to change a society, then you have to tell an alternative story."
So, on our 21st birthday, we have recommitted ourselves to being a movement of people who tell a different story about young people, communities and the world. We tell that different story to inspire hope in those we work with and in one another. We tell that story to inspire others to express tangible, practical, meaningful hope to those around them, especially those on the margins, those who feel left out. We tell that story as an invitation to you to become part of this movement.
There are all kinds of ways that you can join us in inspiring hope:
- Get our newsletter and support us in prayer (click here to subscribe)
- Discover more about us by asking us to speak at your church or community group (click here to contact us)
- Invest in those who want to be agents of hope and transformation by giving financially (click here to download a giving form)
- Join one of our local teams as a volunteer (click here to find out more)
- Set up a Worth Unlimited project in your community (click here to find out more)
So join us! Belong to a movement working for meaningful and long-lasting change in peoples lives. Help us to realise the Worth of everyone by Inspiring Hope Together.