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19 September 2012

Thriving communities

Thriving communities

The Thrive Team live and work in Barton, a council estate outside Oxford, where they build relationships with young people and encourage them to bring change to their community.

Barton is in the top one per cent of most deprived areas in the county; one in three children living there are classed as living in poverty.

Living alongside the community they work with, and for, Thrive also run mentoring programmes, youth clubs, allotment projects, and have planted a church on the estate.

Robin Peake who volunteers for Thrive, explains: "The teams have seen young people come to know Jesus, and have supported them on their journeys. They have been praised by social workers, local councillors and police who recognise the change they enable in Barton."

The work of Thrive is primarily relational, he says: "They want to equip young people to bring change, not to project change upon them."

Living on the estate, as they have done for the last two years, means that they know what the community needs and have been able to help in times of crisis. A mum of three who lives on the estate said: "What's great about Thrive is that any time I text Jem (the senior youth worker) because my youngest son [who has difficulties managing his anger] is playing up, he's straight round."

Alongside Headington Baptist Church, the Thrive Team have initiated a group of 40 to 50 people who meet on a Sunday, to share food, socialise and hear about Jesus.

The project has seen much success, Judy Elliott, the thrive team leader said:"It's been great to see things moving in the past two years from a focus on simply building relationships with young people to introducing them to Jesus in a relevant way and discipling these young people as they grow more and more in their understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to follow him."

One family, whose 16-year-old was attending the Sunday meetings, received support from the Thrive team, so that now all three of the children have mentors (including a 12-year-old boy who would frequently refuse to come home at night) and their mother is coming to church and wants to do an Alpha course. The 16-year-old is getting baptised next month, which will be the church community's first baptism.

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