Willesden Apprentices: Meet Richard Samuel
Over the last three weeks, throughout the Easter Season, we have been featuring the Willesden Apprentices, who run youth and children’s work in west London. In the run-up to Pentecost – the church’s birthday – we have shared their experiences and thoughts on how to develop this essential form of ministry to build the future of the church in the capital.
Previous instalments have featured with Samuel Benjamin from St Hugh’s Church in Northolt, Nikkita Robert from Southall Parishes, and Steven Payne from St Catherine’s Neasden, have shown how they are combining the study of a Level 3 diploma in Christian work with Young people and Communities, with their day-to-day lives and how they are building a new generation of people who live for Jesus.
In the final interview, we meet Richard, aged 29, from Wembley, who is a Youth and Children’s worker at St James, Alperton.
You’ve been an apprentice for a few months now, how have you settled into your new role?
I’m enjoying it a lot, but it’s a challenge, which I expected.
What have been the high points so far?
Interacting with new young people from outside of the church. Also, making those links between the church and the community by working in schools and a local boys’ home.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Having different commitments in different places and having to get around to each of those commitments. Also the challenge of doing new things – it’s a big learning curve.
Why do you like working with young people?
They’re like a breath of fresh air, for starters, and they tell it like it is, and there is no filter. I like interacting with them, and they make me laugh.
What are you reading at the moment?
Apart from the YMCA stuff I’m reading Inferno by Dan Brown.
Has anything about being an apprentice surprised you?
Mainly, it’s been how much the church doesn’t put the emphasis on the importance of the kids, which has surprised me.
How do you balance your work commitments with the Level 3 course?
I have an academic timetable, so I schedule my face-to-face work around that.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to growing within myself and gaining more confidence within my work, which will have a knock-on effect meaning even better things for the kids.
Have you learnt something new about yourself?
I’ve learnt things about myself that I didn’t know before. For example, there are some skills which I do naturally that are perfect for youth work like listening, and being able to reflect, which I didn’t know I had. I can recognise now that these are important techniques in relating to and working with young people.
How do you think we can help more children and young people to connect and engage with church?
I think that the church should be made more relevant to them and the situations which they face in their everyday lives, and it should be highlighted through the way they’re living. The fundamentals of the bible are there, but we’re living in a different world where we have to put the bible into their context. Attending church also needs to be fun – because let’s face it, it can sometimes be boring.
In the coming weeks, after Pentecost, we will hear from Jenny Barnard, Capital Youth manager, about how this project has helped grow the church in the Willesden Area and about her future hopes for this apprenticeship scheme.
To find out about becoming an apprentice, please contact Rachel Walker, Apprenticeship Project Coordinator.