The Keswick Convention
Several members of Generation Hope recently visited ‘The Keswick Convention’ which apparently everyone knows about. If you don’t, then it’s a gathering of thousands of Christians in one tiny town in the Lake District. Nine young people, including myself, attended the convention for a week.
We spent the week camping on an adolescent campsite (which was not as bad as it sounds) and lived like peasants pretty much throughout. The weather fluctuated, as it would in our indecisive country, and it varied from overwhelming heat, to uncontrollable storm which blew our tents away (literally).
There were different sessions held for different age groups. The first one we all went to was the All-Ages service, which was actually not an All-Ages service, but a crèche.
The toddlers amongst us loved it, but the rest fell asleep.
The rest of the sessions were for specific age groups. Regardless of the fact that three of us were not yet 19-24, we all attended the 19-24 sessions, which were both interesting a deep in their bible teaching. The teachers were also Scottish so that was fun too.
The generation hope stand attracted many young people during the open hours. Young people of all ages (literally from babies to people in their 70s) would come every day to participate in the activities that we had set out. Beer goggles, dangerous drugs, pour a unit; everything was there for them to play and learn with. We all had interesting discussions with everyone.
Although there was this one little girl who kept stealing our sweets.
I think what I will never forget is Hephzibah walking up to people randomly with a big cigarette, saying “HI HAVE A CIGARETTE” to them until they decided to come over and listen to what we had to say. I don’t know if that scared off more people or attracted them, but it was amusing all the same.
Overall, the week was a brilliant time for us all and we all thoroughly enjoyed it, even though we were using tents and not general civilised buildings. I think we would all happily do it again!’
– Rosie (17)
Generation Hope’s February Residential Weekend (11-14 year’s)
On the 12th of February, 16 of us (plus lots of leaders) arrived at Latimer Congregational Church to take part in a Generation Hope weekend. I was incredibly excited, and was looking forward to the activities, although I only knew that we were going to do some drug-related sessions. I will take you on a guided tour of the weekend, with basic details of all the activities, because if I explained it thoroughly, we would be here all day.
On the Friday afternoon, a small group of us sat in the kitchen getting to know each other and playing games like ‘Word Association,’ and mostly getting to know each other better. Later, in the evening, we played ice-breaker games with the whole group, involving us saying who we looked up to, and our memory of our first day at school. That was followed by a game where we had to build a tower made up of newspaper and string in 3 teams, and our team won because we were awesome.
Then Saturday arrived, and so did Theoni, who was with us for the Saturday and Sunday. I was really looking forward to the day’s sessions and the other cool stuff we had been promised. The day started in a church service-type-thing, in which we sang songs and then split off into other groups to *pray* to God in our own way. Some of us did through art, others were merely quiet, some of us wrote down our prayers on leaves and stuck them to a tree, and then some us prayed with each other. I prayed with a few of the girls; for me, it was a great experience.
That day we did various sessions on drugs, church and, my favourite, the persecuted Christians, in which we were given a booklet, and Josephine talked to us about how they smuggled bibles into China. That session was a real eye-opener; it made me really grateful that I can freely be a Christian in this country.
After that, Rosie, Sarah’s daughter, came to give us her ‘testimony’, or so to speak. She told us about how hard it was for her at school, and how God got her through that, or got rid of the trouble-maker in her form. It was a really interesting tale, and a situation in which it’s clear that God is in control. This was my favourite session of the day.
Then came the selfie scavenger hunt! We were put into groups, and we had to trek through London taking selfies with various things on the list. The leaders of our group were the ones who wrote the list, so we knew where to find everything. Some items on the list included an open 24 hours sign, a shop with the letter ‘Q’ in its name, and a canal boat. I think that was my favourite non-Christian activity of the weekend.
Later, we were given the choice of watching Big Hero 6 and some other film whose name I’ve forgotten or going on a night walk. I chose the night walk, in which we walked up the canal, and could stand on a bridge. While on that bridge, if we looked to our left, we could see the very rich part of London, whereas, if we looked to our right, we could see the very poor part of London.
On Sunday, we did the service-type-thingy again, but this time, they had added another activity. We could write our *troubles* as such and prayers about things that stresses/worried us on a bit of paper, and throw it into the bin. Then, Sarah taught us some life skills, like how to sit properly at an interview, (amongst other things) before Sarah (and Ben) taught us how to do detached work and how to teach the beer goggles games to the general public, in case we wanted to do the detached work with Hope UK and Generation Hope.
Too soon, it was time to pack and go home, although not before a very competitive football match between the boys and the girls, in which the girls won first time, then the boys demanded a rematch, which they won, before a very violent basketball game which the girls won. You decide what that says about our sporting abilities.
I guess that’s it. Thanks for reading, and I’m sure I’ll see you in April!
-Phoebe, aged 12.
History of Generation Hope
In 2013, Hope UK developed a new course for young people in youth groups called ‘Drugs, Sex and You’ (DSY). More than just drug and sex education, the course also aims to teach good life skills, instil confidence and build resilience. Led by our trained voluntary Drug Educators, 39 courses have been run with youth groups throughout the UK and evaluation feedback from both young people and youth workers has been very positive.
It is clear that young people today face many difficult and complex challenges as they negotiate a world with few boundaries and many pressures. The need for good adult role models, positive peer influence and the reinforcement of Christian values has never been greater. Hope UK’s Trustees and staff began to see the need for longer term involvement in the lives of the young people who take the DSY course, and so the vision for ‘Generation Hope’ was born. This also gives the many young people who want to be more involved with Hope UK after completing the course the opportunity to do so.
During 2014, three of Hope UK’s Trustees who are also youth workers began meeting with Sarah Brighton, Hope UK’s CEO (also a youth worker), to work out the details of what a new youth organisation would look like. The following aims were agreed:
- Building a community of young people supporting each other and having fun together
- Encouraging young people to live positive lives without the use of drugs
- Nurturing young people in their Christian faith
- Enabling young people to gain knowledge and skills
With its roots in the temperance movement (as the Band of Hope), our ideal is for young people to adopt drug and alcohol-free lifestyles. However, we recognise that this may exclude some of the young people who would benefit most from membership. We have therefore established a four-tier membership structure for 11-25 year olds.
Opportunities and activities available to members vary with the Class of membership. Class A and B members, for example, will be linked to a personal mentor for support and encouragement, learn to lead drug activities with peers, help develop social networking for Generation Hope and generally get involved with Generation Hope projects and receive relevant training. For a detailed list of the support and opportunities available to the different classes of membership, click here.
The first activity weekend for seventeen young people was held in October 2014 and, since then, young people associated with Generation Hope have been trained to do detached drug education and have done this (under supervision from adult Drug Educators) from stands on the street in different locations and at Christian events attended by young people. There have been several activity weekends that combine fun with learning that develops important lifeskills.
We are really proud of our Generation Hope young people as they have demonstrated a maturity beyond their years and show real kindness and concern for one another. A council of the most committed older members has been established to allow the young people more say in the direction and development of Generation Hope.