17 September 2014
Eight young Christian public leaders
Public leaders are committed to serving God and being voices for good where He has placed them. They speak up and they step out. Public leaders take the time to get good at what they are doing and find opportunities to work with others. Change happens when people lead: when someone with passion, vision and purpose pursues a dream of how things can and should be, injustice gives way to righteousness. Here are a few young leaders who are taking responsibility in the public sphere, who are taking the authority God has given them and using it for good.
Founder and director, Refugee Support Network
Catherine Gladwell was working for a large international charity when she realised the level of need in her own community. Along with other members of Community Church Harlesden in 2009 she founded Refugee Support Network (RSN). The charity works with young people affected by displacement and crisis and helps them access, remain and progress in education. RSN now works with over 300 young refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of trafficking across London providing them with mentors and helping them progress in their education at critical points on the forced migration journey. Catherine commented: "We believe that at a time of great uncertainty and transition, education is essential and when we invest in a young person's education, we send a clear message that they matter and that there is hope for the future."
Labour parliamentary candidate for Harlow
Suzy Stride is running for parliament, and has been selected by the Labour party to contest the Harlow seat in 2015. While much lies ahead, this is not the beginning of the story. Suzy's political activism began when she campaigned in the 1997 general election, and she has been involved at every election since as well as taking on roles and responsibilities in her local party. In standing for election Suzy wants to take her local experience, both political and through working for youth education charity City Gateway, and bring it to a national level. Along with Christians standing for election in other parties Suzy believes that there is huge crossover between our faith values and political beliefs namely around social justice. She takes great inspiration from people like Wilberforce who saw present day injustices as something that the Church could not tackle on their own without engaging in politics and government. Present day injustices require the same commitment from Christians.
Founder of Vessel Works
Ethan Bernard grew up in an area of Peckham notorious for its gang violence. His life changed when, aged 19, he saw a close friend violently murdered. In a time of tragedy and emotional upheaval he gave his life to God and it changed his life. Ethan worked with Kids Company and is now a project manager for XLP. Vessel Works was founded by Ethan in Lewisham in 2011 and works with young people to help them make a positive contribution to their community and wider society. Ethan helps young people explore and engage in music and media and turned the junk room of a local church, Crofton Park Baptist, into a production studio.
Chief executive, Golddigger Trust
Beth Stout leads the Golddigger Trust which over the last nine years has worked with tens of thousands of young people and seen lasting changes to the lives of young men and women through their projects. Beth is a popular communicator and speaks both to conferences and the national media particularly on issues of youth work, identity, sex, pornography and self-esteem. Her passion comes from working with young people in urban and deprived environments, and reflects a hands-on experience of the challenges they face. By speaking into the media and public life Beth helps raise awareness of the issues young people are facing, and also helps equip the Church to respond to that need.
Head of faculty at Ysgol John Bright in Llandudno
Sian Rees, in her mid-30s, thrives in a demanding and highly influential job as head of faculty at Ysgol John Bright in Llanduno. She has inspired her colleagues through her dedication in her role which includes head of music. She is a long standing member of Evangelical Alliance Wales' executive and council. Her passion is to see the kingdom of God extended in Wales. A gifted worship leader and preacher Sian has served on the leadership team of a Pentecostal church in Caernarfon and helped pioneer a new church in Pwllheli. She took a year out from teaching to attend the Hillsong training programme in Australia.
Founder, Friday's Child
Naomi Roberts, founder of Friday's Child, was driven by a passion to love the city of Leeds. She saw a growing need to support young people affected by low self-esteem and all it leads to;and through the support of Leeds Christian Community Trust founded a project to provide that support. Friday's Child is based in areas of Leeds that have a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, and a mixture of both affluence and poverty. The project provides support by going into schools and youth clubs to deliver self-esteem and self worth education (written by Cocoon). These teaching programmes are backed up by opportunities for young girls to be mentored and further supported.
Natasha Rufus Isaacs & Lavinia Brennan
Natasha Rufus Isaacs and Lavinia Brennan founded Beulah after travelling to Delhi to work with Atulya, an aftercare home in the Delhi slums for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Beulah is an ethical fashion label launched in 2011 which helps give a sustainable livelihood for those coming out of the sex trade. Driven by both producing beautiful clothes and achieving positive social change, each garment purchased comes with a bag produced by victims of trafficking in India, from the 'Freeset' project based in Kolkata. Beulah hit the headlines after the Duchess of Cambridge wore one of their dresses, and have been featured in The Times, the Evening Standard and many other main stream press outlets.
Max Manners founded Resco as a business, but also a business with a heart. They work with companies that want to place social impact at the centre of what they do –motivated by the belief that business can be a force for good. Max had previously worked with the William Wilberforce Trust, a ministry of Holy Trinity Brompton, as head of enterprise before setting up Resco as an independent business. Resco runs a 16-week employment programme which gives people the tools and confidence to break the cycle of unemployment and work towards a more fruitful future. The programme provides work experience within a business, accredited training, and tailored personal support.