Sandy’s story so far…
The past three and a half months have flown by! 111 days have passed as I write this since I began my time as the CWM Intern, which sounds like a good chunk of time to get to know the area but I can still be surprised by St Ives and the community I live in and with. In fact, 111 days has given me a tiny snapshot of life in Cambridgeshire! Despite that though I’ve had a productive three months, links have been made and relationships developed and formed.
I’ve had varying levels of meaningful ventures when interacting with the community connected to the Free Church in St Ives, but numbers play a small part in community work when you define whether the effort was worth it. Associating success with communities is nonsensical (and mildly patronising)!
My time working with communities, as well as attending workshops on engaging communities from a faith perspective, as the CWM Intern, has been an enriching and an eye opening experience. I’ve previously spent a year studying community work, alongside four years running youth groups, and starting up one or two projects, but a new setting poses new challenges! You could say communities are like hobbits, to drop in a film reference; you can spend all your time learning all there is to know about them and they’ll still manage to surprise you. My time here has cemented some of my learning experiences as well as affording me new ones, I’ve reached out to the nearby secondary school Christian Union, as well as encouraging and developing the Free Church’s ministries from a younger and different perspective. Churches Together in St Ives has also been on my radar and they’ve recently undergone a change in structure and leadership which has been an organic and refreshing change, bringing new life to what was becoming a fading witness of joint ventures. The joint Church in the Market Place has even been asked to stay in the market for longer and is beginning to form a relationship with the town with it’s presence felt once a month.
The key word there is relationships. 10 months in one place doing community work is a short period of time to create meaningful and needed initiatives that are sustainable! I see these 10 months as a time to build upon and establish relationships with different pocketed communities between the Free Church (and other churches) and the town. What I don’t want to happen is for me to leave in August and for a large amount of what I was a part of cease to be. What I do want to happen is for the Church in St Ives to become more a part of the wider community so they can work and learn alongside and with each other.
Sandy is serving on a 10 month internship programme with St Ives Free Church. For more information, please contact the CWM office.