Courtyard is a fresh model for local Catholic youth work, equipping parishes to reach young people at risk of social exclusion – creating a ‘courtyard’ of welcome and purpose
Courtyard is a youth project founded on two convictions: that God has created every human being with a holy purpose and that the Catholic Church exists in order to help people discover their purpose. The Church is present in every neighbourhood and each parish has the potential to transform young people's lives by supporting them as they discover their direction in life.
The Courtyard team is currently piloting a programme that will help parishes to develop a robust model of Catholic youth work for their locality. Young people are invited to an encounter with the Church community without any expectation of joining a group or making an open-ended commitment.
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Following two years of reflection and planning, Million Minutes implemented the pilot phase of Courtyard at the beginning of 2015. With initial support from Catholic charities and individuals, the vision of Courtyard was developed within the communities of the three pilot parishes in North London, Farnworth (near Bolton) and Newcastle. Three part time youth workers were recruited, who then worked to implement a model of volunteer engagement and development, leading to youth outreach. The volunteers accompany and enable these young people to develop their own response to the needs in their lives and their area. Having three very different parishes, it is to be expected that the three projects will develop differently, but common elements and learning from each will inform the resources created at the end of the pilot.
The pilot is now ready to be shared with others, to help a parish develop youth work outside of their Church walls, towards young people in their localities.
What difference will it make?
· Parishes will be equipped to engage with young people in the community
· Young people will have opportunities to learn, to participate in the community and to plan for their future
· Local projects developed to respond to local need (e.g. intergenerational service project)
· Parish workers, priests and volunteers growing in confidence, supported through quality resources and training
· A national resource and training tool available to inspire any parish to reach out and support young people in their local community
· In each parish Courtyard will also raise up key adults and young people who will develop as community leaders.