Nexus started in 2008, as a network to connect Middlesbrough-based Christian youth workers – to create space for us to support one another, meet up regularly and as a way of preventing unnecessary duplication. Nexus allows us to act as a unified voice and to forge links with a broad array of people
The whole is other than the sum of the parts. By sharing info, inspiration and resources we benefit each other’s work and serve our town better. We can create a culture of mutual support and value.
Often we can make a much bigger difference to transforming our communities when we work together. Nexus has spawned a number of innovative projects where our organisations and others working in the area have teamed up for the good of the town.
Since 2012 Nexus has hosted a series of collaborations focused on summer activities – trying to provide opportunities across town during the holidays. In 2014, with the start of Hope4Boro, we piloted something with a more ambitious aim: to see cool provision in each community of Boro, which brought together a wider array of partners and which modeled fresh, participative ways for us to biuild a better Middlesbrough. We tried to work with Together Middlesbrough to look for the good already in Boro, to address issues facing families; like the lack of affordable safe spaces for kids to have fun, feeding kids who were struggling without the free school meals they’d normally get during term time and ideas for overcoming the decline in local services. By 2016 Hope4Summer had become an impressive initiative, supporting and linking hundreds of sessions, helping thousands of young people and their families. Unfortunately, big also brings issues of control and the spectre of empire. We tried hard to find a way of keeping Hope4Summer as a cohesive initiate but, very late in the day, we were let down badly by other partners. Nexus will continue to support holiday provision, especially those groups with a grassroots and detached vibe. We’re working on what that looks like going forward. Together Middlesbrough will also keep up their work through ‘Feast of Fun’. Despite the path they’ve chosen we still think they’re offering something that is making a difference, so look out for good projects under that banner.
In 2013/14 we were thinking through ways of building local unity while also appreciating the diversity of groups making up Nexus and the local Christian work with young people. We hosted a series of open spaces for young people, asking the question: What could our communities look like? Mission Academy was a link-up with a national effort to value the place of young people in making a difference to their patch. Hope4Boro itself developed as that network expanded and asked more questions about grassroots activism. The youth Mission Academy has been largely underground lately but we’re asking those questions again in 2017. What could Boro look like if we combine our efforts and find the resources to make it happen? Could this be useful for you or your youth group?
Saturday 4th March was the date for an event we hosted in collaboration with loads of other partners involved with children and young people in our region. A joint event has been on the cards for years, but this term we met at St Barnabas in Linthorpe for a day of shared learning and inspring workshops. If you missed it, check out the publicity here: Transforming our Thinking! We, as an independent collective of youth workers, are putting more effort in the coming months into learning spaces. What learning would help you or your colleagues? How can we help reignite unity through these spaces?
Training and open conversations look like they will be a big feature of a reborn Nexus. You can help shape that. Join the core team if you fancy it. Let’s change the world together!
I helped start this thing when i started my job at St Barnabas. I couldn’t believe the duplication and disconnection of local youth work – especially the faith-based work. Nexus has been quite an adventure. Not everyone sees the value of working together, but we’ve achieved loads over the last seven years.Andy