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INSPIRE Awards 2016: making a difference in West Yorkshire schools

How a Christian initiative is supporting young people in nearly 80 primary and secondary schools across Calderdale in West Yorkshire ...

How a Christian initiative is supporting young people in nearly 80 primary and secondary schools across Calderdale in West Yorkshire. SHARON BARNARD reports

When Churches Together in Halifax put their heads together to discuss ideas for a potential Millennium project, one suggestion was for Christians to get more involved in supporting their local secondary schools.

“Three years later CICS (Christian Initiative in Calderdale Schools) was born,” explains Paul Blakey, the charity’s chair of trustees. “We appointed our first worker in 2004 and have since employed 11 people from local churches to work in primary and secondary schools.”

The team of part-time staff is supported by Christians in 75 churches across Calderdale, either by prayer, taking part in activities in schools or volunteering alongside the workers.

“We have more than 40 people who regularly volunteer in some way with CICS,” says Paul.

“We are involved in nearly 80 primary and secondary schools. In all but a handful of primary schools we offer the Scripture Union booklet It’s Your Move to 2,200 Year 6 pupils. We also take Open The Book assemblies in a growing number of schools and offer assemblies and lessons in secondary schools.

“Our lessons cover a diverse range of topics including alcohol and safety, financial management, what is a Christian, euthanasia, bereavement, suffering and love.”

In addition, CICS runs Info Point one lunchtime a week, which encourages pupils to think about a big question, and offers mentoring to some pupils who are struggling.

Paul believes CICS is making a difference at many different levels.

“To those who teach we are often a listening ear – an outside, trusted person who will listen and understand. To pupils we are joining with what God is already doing amongst thousands of young people. We are there to present the reality of who Jesus is as well as to support, listen and care.”

CICS  was nominated for an Inspire Award by Rosemary Wright from Halifax

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