Ali Gilfillan moved to Leeds to work in Cottingley, South Leeds. He joined St Georges shortly afterwards and has been serving on the Roots team for a year and a half. In April Roots Network are joining Ali in Cottingley for a local mission week. Ali shared his story about working in the area.
"...it's obvious through the bible that God has a heart for the poor and marginalised, and I want to share in this."
What is your role?
I run the Cottingley Youth Project (CYP), working on the Cottingley estate to support young people in their education, developing community leaders and encouraging them to explore the Christian faith. I work three days a week with a team of committed volunteers. Together we run homework clubs, a youth forum and a Space group (Christian youth club).
Why are you involved?
I think it's obvious through the bible that God has a heart for the poor and marginalised, and I want to share in this. Cottingley is a geographically isolated and a deprived area, and I want to see positive change here, to bring the community together and to fight against apathy and barriers against young people becoming active citizens.
Where have you seen God working?
I have seen God working in both the young people and my volunteer team. I have seen young people with no Christian background questioning faith, praying, and have had 4 young people attend church through links made with the youth project.
I have also seen young people growing in confidence, moving up a set in school, resolving to get fewer detentions, taking pride in their work and learning to resolve conflicts, which is amazing to see.
I have also been encouraged to see how my volunteer team have grown in their ability to work with young people. I have several volunteers from the church locally who had little or no youth work experience before joining the project. Over the year and a half I have been here I have seen them increasingly able to work well with young people and take responsibility to lead sessions. It's incredible to see their ongoing passion for the young people and desire to help the young people on the estate.
Why is it important for Roots to get involved?
We are partnering with Roots for the Cottingley 'Impact week'. It's great for Roots to get involved in helping deliver something for children and young people on the estate during the holiday period, when many people think there's nothing going on. I think it's great for Cottingley to know that other people care about their community, and to combat the feeling of isolation. It will also be great for the Roots young people to be part of Gods heart for the area, and to develop a missional outlook. Oh, and it's going to be heaps of fun too!
What can St George's pray?
It would be great to pray for the young people of the estate: that they develop ambitions, confidence, self worth, and a desire to contribute to their community. Please also pray for our volunteers, that they'd remain encouraged and able to help. Please also pray that God would provide enough volunteers to do what He's calling CYP to do.
For the Impact week please pray for the logistics of getting projects organised. Please pray for effective partnership work between Roots, CYP, the Church in Cottingley, and the local community. Please also pray for the young people of Roots, that they would learn about and encounter God as they engage in mission.