Introducing the CONCRETE Academy
Back in April 2020, the UK was just in the beginning stages of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and had just been plunged into the first lockdown. James Fawcett and I began a series of weekly conversations thinking about the current landscape of Youth Ministry in the UK, and, somewhat through the lens of the pandemic, what the future could be.
The outworking of those conversations begins today with the launch of the ‘Concrete Academy’, an organisation that will give Christians working with young people the opportunity to dream, envision and develop their work and engagement with young people.
At the Academy, we believe that those working with young people, and the young people themselves, have the potential to transform the communities they inhabit for good. Since the late 2000’s however, we have witnessed a talent drain on Youth Ministry in the UK, with many Christians working with young people leaving to pursue other careers with greater security, development opportunities or career progression. This has led to an inexperienced workforce who, whilst committed, struggle to make the impact which they long.
The talent drain within Youth Ministry in the UK has had a significant impact on the field. Not only has it reduced the level of experience in the workforce it has also reduced the organisational memory of the field as a whole. One result of the latter is a tendency to re-invent off-the-shelf models of working with young people, much of which has been critiqued in the past. However, without the organisational memory of experienced workers, the learning from these critiques is often and sadly, missing. Other consequences of this shift has been a devaluing of training; a move towards silo working; and an ever decreasing sense of ‘work value’ among existing and potential workers. Most worryingly, all of these consequences come together to significantly reduce the impact of work with young people year on year.
In order to buck this trend and release the full potential of work with young people we need to:
- Inspire activists and leaders working with young people to remain within the profession
- Facilitate new and bold interventions that learn from the past, engage with the present and transform the future
- Reestablish and reimagine the place of training within this
- Reenergise the workforce
We believe that one way of achieving the above is to learn from how ‘disrupters’ have impacted both business and society since the early 2000s. We plan to release entrepreneurial activists and leaders working with young people today, to develop new and bold programs and projects that flourish and, in flourishing, change the direction and impact of the gospel on young people in the UK today.
The centrepiece of the Academy is going to be the ‘Concrete Academy Fellowship’, a 2-year part-time cohort to support the revitalisation of the sector and release the potential impact of working with young people, we will identify a small cohort of activists and leaders to develop and launch new, purposeful and sustainable interventions.
Contact us to find out more, ask questions, or to see how you could be involved.