Leeds Faith in Schools

Anna Kelly

Schools worker for LFIS

I have been working for Leeds Faith in Schools for just over six months now and I can safely say, every day brings something new. Whether it be the adrenaline of leading an assembly or the pleasure of meeting a regular mentee and hearing about the highs and lows of their past week, the opportunity to spend my working weeks in different schools across Leeds is a huge honour. I hope through this post to share with you all an insight into some of the work that Leeds Faith in Schools does with young people in our city. I hope I will encourage you to see the need for a Christian schools worker in every high school in Leeds.

A highlight of my time so far at Leeds Faith in Schools was when I had the opportunity to spend three mornings at Leeds Minster with year 7 pupils from Abbey Grange. The hope for each morning was that the Minster would create a tranquil and reflective space for pupils to take some time out and think about their year ahead. We set up the Minster as a huge prayer space with eight different response stations for pupils to explore. My station encouraged us to think about all the blessings and gifts God has given us. The pupils could look at their reflection in mirrors to help them focus on their unique identity and purpose. Whilst I was facilitating this session, it struck me that this would be quite an alien concept to them all. We are rarely given opportunities to sit and reflect on how amazing we are and how valued we are for simply just being ourselves. I believe it’s so important that pupils have the chance to understand and recognise their incredible worth and value to Jesus. When they learn to love themselves, then they can go on to love others.

Shots from my station set up at the Minster

Shots from my station set up at the Minster

Over the summer we were privileged to be part of a team that took around 50 young people from Leeds to Soul Survivor. It was amazing to see what God did while we were there surrounded by so many people who were passionate about God and spending hours a day in worship. God healed, prayers were answered and young people gave their lives to Jesus! However, I think what I found most incredible on this occasion, was seeing the young people, a lot of which had never met each other before, come together in prayer. Their passion and persistence in prayer was beautiful and by the end of the week, their vulnerability with one another only echoed the precious time they had experienced as a group.

On a Wednesday, you will find me in the centre of Hyde Park at Leeds City Academy, a school with languages and culture at its heart. Each time I visit this school, I am continuously amazed at the diversity of the pupils and the stories I hear from them.

Here, some of my time is spent working regularly with two year 11 girls. I want to share about these girls because at first they were very reluctant to do any of the ‘I’m a Girl’ course material, a course that looks at our identity and seeks to help us develop a positive and healthy self-image. The girls had little trust in me and so were fearful to engage in conversation. They were well and truly putting their barriers up.

After weeks of building trust and simply being there for them, we had a break through! We began delving so much deeper in our conversations. I remember one occasion in particular: the girls are best friends but they told me how one is a Catholic and the other a Jehovas Witness. We were able to talk about the differences in their religions and I was able to introduce my faith and relationship with God to them. I am really hoping that this only deepens and continues over the year. I am praying that the girls will grapple with their questions of faith more.

At all of the schools I go into regularly, there is no other Christian presence that isn't a teacher. I am able to have the conversations I have and develop the relationships I am building because I don’t have the title of a teacher. Therefore, the students want to open up more, they ask more questions and take risks. At Leeds Faith in Schools, we want to be relatable. We hold relationships at the core of what we do. It only seems like yesterday when I was a teenager in an all girls grammar school where your identity and purpose was based on your grades, how popular you were or how attractive you were. Amongst this confusion, we had no Christian schools worker and I felt very isolated. There is most definitely a need for Schools workers!

I hope through this post you see the important need of having Christian schools workers in each of our Leeds high schools. We not only want to be a support for Christian young people in school but we are desperate to spread the Good News of Jesus to every single young person no matter what their back ground.

For more about Leeds Faith in Schools click here