Hassocks church encourages building relationships through their youth group

Youth club beach trip
Youth club beach trip

St Francis Church groups are making a difference for young and elderly people in Hassocks.

Hassocks church encourages building relationships through their youth group

St Francis Church groups making a difference for young and elderly people in Hassocks

The church, which runs youth, mum and baby, and elderly groups, aim to cover the needs of the whole parish.

Gary Pickett, a 34-year-old youth worker at St Francis Church in Hassocks, said: “We’re affecting the local community in a good way.”

He was employed by the church in March 2017 to set up youth projects and is now involved with all three groups.

Mr Pickett said: “We’re engaging with our community and seeing our groups grow.

“We get 40 to 50 people at our elderly group some weeks, and our youth group, Arklight, has grown from no children to around 25.

“We run trips out, food nights, weekends away, and we’ve seen a massive change in some of the children.

“One student was quite rude when she started and is now saying please and thank you, and when we get new members is one of the first people to greet them.”

The mum and baby group, Bumps, Babies and Toddlers, has been running since 2014, and the church’s previous parish administrator wanted to start a group for elderly people.

Mr Pickett said: “Cameo runs on the fourth Monday of every month from 2pm to 4pm.

“Visitors have tea and coffee with sandwiches and cakes, and some form of entertainment.

“In the past we’ve had quizzes, a magician, choirs and bingo.

“It’s all free, and there’s a basket by the door for people to donate if they are able to.”

Since starting the group, the church has been able to invest in new football goals, volleyball sets and a minibus for trips.

The church also received £1,000 funding from the Tesco Bag for Help scheme, which will go towards garden improvements to make it fit for purpose.

Mr Pickett said: “We encourage children to come along to our groups to see if they enjoy it, we’re always up for having new people.

“We’re about building relationships instead of getting people to come to church.”

“We’re starting up a bible study soon but our youth group only finishes with a prayer.

“Before we do that we get in a circle and listen to each other about what they’re looking forward to or something amazing that happened, which the children really enjoy.”

The church runs a Monday drop-in group as well, which is described as a safe space for secondary school children.

Toast and biscuits are provided, and children can play pool, tennis, cards or use the games console, from 3pm to 5pm after school.

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