Hope on the Streets
As Church Army’s Hope on the Streets campaign continues, we find out how a bus project in Chester is helping young people from chaotic backgrounds
For the past seven years, Evangelist, Rob Barker, has been leading the Chester Bus Project, which provides young people from chaotic home backgrounds with a safe place to enjoy refreshments, explore faith, relax and chat to people about any difficulties that are worrying them.
With the support of Colin Harris and a team of volunteers from the local churches, the bus project is able to take place on Wednesday evenings in Ellesmere Port and on Friday evenings in Padgate Warrington.
Rob said: “Many of the young people we work with are facing difficulties at home, so the bus provides them with a safe place where they can chat to adults who care for them and have time for them. The volunteers and I are keen to meet people where they are at and through our conversations help them engage with the Christian faith.
“I also hope that by involving volunteers from the local churches that they too will be equipped to share their faith through words and action and to reach people outside the church.”
The Church Army bus is also used for special events in the area and most recently, Rob and his team drove the bus as part of Ellesmere Port’s Diamond Jubilee parade where they were able to provide people with refreshments and hot dogs as part of the celebrations.
What the young people say… Curtis, 21, said: “Ellesmere Port is a very broken place with a lot of antisocial behaviour and little for young people to do. I have problems with psychosis and don’t come from a Christian background, but the bus has definitely helped me grow in my walk with God. The team have helped answer my questions about faith and are always there to support me. They have also inspired me to think about becoming a youth worker in the future. I now realise that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”
Larna, a 17-year-old art student who visits the bus regularly, said: “I used to spend a lot of time hanging around the park as there was nothing else to do, but one day I was walking along and saw the bus. Since then I’ve been coming along regularly and chatting with Rob and chilling out with my friends. The bus is definitely something that we’re lucky to have.”
Jason, 22, said: “I have been coming along to the bus for about four-and-a-half years after seeing it in the car park and recognising some of the volunteers from a local church. At that point in my life I had been trying to get to know more about Christianity and I was about to give up on my faith. But the bus project has helped me to understand more about God and what it means to be a community. Ellesmere Port is a place where many young people feel trapped and just want to leave the area. There are also a lot of problems with drugs and alcohol. So the bus project has been the best thing that could have happened to me.”
To watch a film about Hope on the Streets, please visit, www.churcharmy.org.uk/hopeonthestreets