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Lightbox pops up to support young people across Worcester

Published: 17th April 2024

Lightbox logoLightbox is a pop-up initiative in Worcester. It aims to provide a safe space and opportunities for young people of secondary school age to build community with each other through fun activities, discussion groups and challenges. Churches of different denominations collaborate so Lightbox pops-up at different locations across the city where young people are, including central locations such as Cathedral square as well as sixth form colleges and high schools.

Lightbox originally started in 2018 but has been remastered since the pandemic. It was started as a multi-denominational partnership between All Saints’ church, Worcester Baptist Church and St Paul Assemblies of God church and was held in a fixed location as a drop-in café at Worcester Baptist Church on Friday nights. It ran from March 2018 until the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Jo Oates from All Saints church has been involved since its inception. She helps to coordinate volunteers from the now 7 churches and group of 5 core members who run Lightbox. She said:

“Young people seemed to really appreciate Lightbox and there was a real cry from them after the pandemic for it to run again. We also recognised that there is still very much a need for this type of youth work, perhaps even more so post pandemic. It’s a really tough time for young people right now. There’s a huge mental health crisis, in part caused by the rise in technology and social media activity and there’s nowhere to go, so that was the need we were responding to first.”

This led to the churches gathering to pray into the question of what Lightbox should be and look again at the vision behind it. It was agreed that it should be more about meeting young people where they are rather than holding Lightbox in one location away from where young people would normally go.

Jo added:

“Lightbox is first and foremost about responding to a need and about helping young people to connect in person with each other and to the adults that can support them further. As a secondary factor, it may help young people see that the church is available and there for them and we hope it might act as a bridge between them and church as they already know us, hopefully building those lasting connections. Longevity is the aim. It’s not something that is just short term.”

Lightbox is now popping up in multiple locations across Worcester on a regular basis. There are two Lightbox drop-ins; one at St Peter’s Baptist Church and one at St Helen’s on the High Street. Last month they had their first Lightbox pop-up in Cathedral Square and Jo runs another at Worcester sixth form college where she works as Chaplain. Christopher Whitehead school have also recently agreed to Lightbox running another pop-up there.

Jo said:

“All we need to run a Lightbox pop-up is the space to do it. We put out our yellow banner with the Lightbox logo on and everyone helping wears yellow Lightbox T-shirts. We’ll organise challenges to get the young people to engage together or we’ll go around the tables and ask philosophical questions in a way that is really creative and get them talking with one another through those bigger topics."

Jo makes sure it's as much about just having fun as well though. They have a portable table tennis table that they can set up anywhere so the young people can play and hang out. 

"We run a tuckshop and we always try to offer some refreshments for free as well, such as hot chocolates, as a little gift to bless them. It all helps to build a sense of community that’s really exciting."

Jo adds:

“The whole idea of multiple pop-ups is that you’ve then got a network of spaces that young people know are safe. They’ll see the logo and think ‘I know that’. It creates that sense of longevity and wrap-around support – that Lightbox is there for young people in lots of aspects of their lives.”

The Lightbox team would love more churches to join them with this project. Jo said:

"Lightbox could be the answer for those churches who are perhaps struggling to know what to do or how to connect to young people. We have a hub of resources, tried and tested, and knowledge of how collaborating with other local churches can work, so hopefully it’ll just build.”

Lightbox will be continuing in Worcester, but Jo will be moving to Redditch with her husband in August 2024 and will be looking to see if there is the need for something similar in Redditch.

Page last updated: Wednesday 17th April 2024 3:55 PM

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