Junction 12 (J12) is a youth project based in the east end of Glasgow, one of the most deprived areas of the city. Libby Lobban and Gordon McKie, the two full-time members of staff, work in a variety of schools, and are supported by a group of committed volunteers.
Libby shares some of what they do and some answers to prayer:
Junction 12 works in the catchment area of Smithycroft Secondary School, which lies in the shadow of the famous Barlinnie prison. Our project aims to establish and develop caring, nurturing relationships with 10-18 year-olds, and to enable them to make positive and healthy choices in every area of their lives.
We run SU Groups in four primary schools, and run four SU Groups for secondary-aged young people during the school year. Each year we give children and young people the opportunity to go away for a weekend with other young people from SU Groups in the east end of Glasgow, and we also take about 50 young people away on a week-long SU Scotland Motiv8* holiday each year.
Junction 12 has a base a few hundred yards from Smithycroft Secondary school, where we run lunch time and after-school drop-ins. Around 20-30 young people come in most days to chat with staff and to play games. For some young people this is the first points of contact with the project.
We also run a variety of support groups in our schools, dealing with issues such as loss and change, identity, self-worth and positive relationships, social skills and behaviour management. Children and young people in these groups are referred to J12 by school staff. From time to time we work with young people on an individual basis.
We have a really great relationship with the management team and staff in all the schools we work in, and are treated as a valuable part of school life. This is something we value highly, as the ministry would not be possible without these open doors, and we believe all this is an answer to prayer.
Over the eight years the project has been operating, we have prayed for individuals and have seen many lives impacted and changed. We have seen about 20 young people become Christians; almost all of them have maintained contact with J12 staff, are involved in discipleship activities, and some are now key volunteers with the project.
We have developed a discipleship programme for the young people who have become Christians. This is a combination of Bible studies, residential weekends and one-to-one support. J12 staff are very conscious that, without the faithful prayers of many people, no lasting work could be achieved.
One of the most encouraging aspects of our work is to see the written, and hear the verbal, prayers of children and young people. On many occasions we’ve been amazed at the depth of their understanding and insight.
Young people can struggle to pray out loud in front of adults and their peers, so we have found post-it notes a very simple but effective tool! Sometimes we encourage them to focus on ‘thank-you’ or ‘sorry’ prayers, but in general we find they respond to whatever part of the Bible we’ve been looking at without too much prompting.
We have gone through many ups and downs over the last eight years, and some of our children and young people have been through truly awful situations: this year has been a hard one, with many of our young people losing a parent, and we have attended many heartbreaking funerals.
Our involvement reaches far beyond school, offering pastoral and practical help to those who are grieving. Yet, through it all we have seen the goodness and faithfulness of God as he has carried us through, giving us the mental and physical strength to keep going when we were at the end of our human resources.
For more information on Junction 12 and to support its ministry, see www.junction12.org.uk.
*Motiv8 Holidays cater for young people from some of Scotland’s most deprived communities.
This article first appeared in the September 2015 issue of the Pray for Schools Scotland Update.