Organisation brings schools and churches together
HAVING celebrated its 21st anniversary last year, the Brentwood Schools Christian Worker Trust (BSCWT) is very much part of life in many of the borough's school.
Demand for its services, which range from speaking at assemblies and in RE lessons to mentoring and one-to-one counselling sessions, is at an all-time high.
Run by four staff members and an army of volunteers drawn from the 20-plus Brentwood churches of various denominations who support it, the Trust aims to help their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils in as many schools who want it.
The trust's director of schools work, Ian Kemble, said: "The trust is a really good organisation for bringing churches and schools together.
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"In recent times we have seen a rise in demand for the pastoral side of our work, with staff being asked to go in and offer counselling and mentoring on a one-to-one or small group basis.
"This can often be helping pupils with issues such as self-harming, eating disorders or low self-esteem.
"It helps that we are not members of staff and pupils feel able to talk to us in a slightly different way."
Mr Kemble himself works closely with Brentwood County High School, dropping in twice a week to run a weekly lunchtime club for younger pupils during which they explore Christian issues, and offer mentoring sessions.
Once a term he also leads a week of assemblies looking at various issues.
The trust's work is entirely free to schools and is funded by donations from the churches and members of their congregation. Also on the team is Sue Evans, who has responsibility for primary school work, Mary Thomas, who has responsibility for secondary school work, and administrator Fiona Mason.
They are aided by more than 20 associate workers who are all church employees or volunteers.