CONCRETE is a network Connecting, Thinking and Amplifying Christians working with young people.
‘Concrete’ comes from the Latin word ‘con-crescere,’ meaning ‘’to grow together.’ We aim to be a community that strives for excellence in the provision of Christian Youth Work and in the training and equipping of Christian Youth Workers.
CONCRETE is grounded in ‘Urban Hope’ the youth ministry of St Stephen’s Church, Canonbury in Islington. Urban Hope works with a wide variety of young people from primary school children to young adults. The CONCRETE ethos and practice is worked out and tested in this context.
Many youth workers speak of feeling isolated and of how ‘working out’ how to deliver youth work in their context can be a lonely task; CONCRETE aims to tackle this by drawing those working with young people together in to a journey of mutual development and support. We seek to be ‘value led’ and ‘relationally worked out.’ Building a framework of values and principles on which our attitudes, beliefs, skills and practices are formed.
Ben Bell and James Fawcett are curators of CONCRETE, but we consider ourselves on a journey with many others in youth work in the UK.
This is what others say about CONCRETE
'I thought the event was really helpful and inspiring'
'Location and timings work well. Amount of content and level it was pitched at seemed just right - accessible to all in the room as far as I could tell but not boringly obvious. Delivered generously, openly and humbly which I appreciated.'
'It was so helpful going through the process to empower me to be able to replicate it in different situations.'
No Youth Work, No Experience but a Loving God. This is the story of a curate in the Church of England that started some youth work and her experience after 6 months, after CONCRETE had conversation with them.
I was terrified of youth work – really really thought it wasn’t for me, or where my gifts lay. In fact, I was probably relieved when I first visited the parish that there was no youth work!! Then, I arrived, and found that it had to be done. And the gifting has come with that, but it has taken courage.
There was NO youth provision in the area at all, let alone the church. There was a real separation between the church and the community – particularly generational, the older people did not like the young people and the young people did not think much of the church. This is how I started out and some of the key things I learnt in the first 6 months:
1. Consulted – first with the young people – let them say what they like and name the group, I then approached the PCC, and the parents. I then held a meeting, discussing it with the aim of getting them all on board.
2. I have found volunteers who are not regular church goers – I just watched for the warm and friendly people to get it going now a few keen parents have got on board too.
3. Engage with local organisations – it has proved to be a truly incredible act of witness for the church the whole parish have been talking about it. It has got some momentum the parish council, local hotels, the school, all sorts of people and organisations have blessed the youth group with money, time, resources.
4. Understand that the kids really just need a space to be themselves, to be held safely, and to be able to work out their friendships. They like the odd themed night, and we find that good activities open up the space for conversation. But, we go with the flow – the hardest thing for hyper-organised-me, but it’s been a liberating and faith enhancing thing too.
5. The Diocese have been really helpful with the safeguarding / policy stuff. The space we offer as a youth club is rooted in the social gospel so is open to everyone – it is a service to the community,
However, I am increasingly aware that we are also allowing them to develop a really positive opinion of the church, their church, and getting to know them on a personal level. And in among all that, little opportunities for spiritual pointing happens – discussions about what the church pulpit is for, candles being lit for the world, decorating the church Christmas tree. It is all small but meaningful minutes – so listening – with Holy Spirit Eyes – is really important. It feels as though we are building foundations for other things right now. The 17 kids who walk through our doors are an incredible ball of energy for a reasonably elderly church. They’re vibrant, noisy, and lively. But immense fun and an absolute joy to work with. I hope and pray that they will grow towards the Gospel, but I am very aware that God is unfolding this thing so I am not putting unnecessary pressure or expectation on it.
"Regularly meeting has been a life line, space to think with a critical friend has been what I needed."Youth Worker
CONCRETE exists to Connect with Christians working with young people especially in urban areas.
CONCRETE believes Christians working with young people need to Think for themselves rather than being told how to think.
CONCRETE believes in Amplifying the voice of those working with Young People we can all learn from one another.