Year of Wellbeing Blog: Ruth's story

Everyone has their own story to share about ways they have found to care for their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of other people.

A team of bloggers have agreed to describe their personal journey. We hope their stories help and inspire others during our Year of Wellbeing.

 

Ruth's story...

year of wellbeing blogger ruthWhat a privilege it is to be trusted. What a privilege it is to be trusted by a teenager!

I am the Youth Pastor at Rugby Methodist Church Centre; my role is reasonably new having started last year. My role finds me working within the church faith groups, alongside council youth workers, in 100-year-old youth clubs, making Oreo milkshakes, working alongside secondary schools to mentor young people, acting as chaplain to a local Air Cadet Squadron and more. Lots more.

Like the collective of other youth workers, youth pastors, mentors and volunteers throughout the country, I spend a lot of my time talking and listening. Mostly listening. It is vital to give young people the space to talk without being judged. Without them feeling they must filter their thoughts. But openness takes time. It takes time for young people to feel able to tell me things. Therefore, I spend a lot of time asking about pets or about siblings or discussing whether the green colouring of The Hulk is chlorophyll and if it is, does that make The Hulk a plant? And if The Hulk is a plant, does that mean all green plants have anger issues?

If nothing, not even Plant-Hulk, is off limits for discussion, that means when young people are in their hour of need, at their most vulnerable, or just having an awful day, they can tell me.

I am lucky enough to come alongside (or already be alongside) these young people at these times. They can take time out of school to explore how they are feeling. Meet me for a coffee. Take me with them to get their nose pierced. Moan. Chat. Cry. Laugh. Ask for help. Be offered help. Be listened to.

We should all listen more, so people can feel valued. Feel that their place in the world is important and their opinions are valid. Even listening in order to remember how someone likes their coffee can make a huge difference to someone’s wellbeing that day.

If we listened more, we would understand more. As communities we would grow stronger, empathy would grow, and we might even be able to notice, and then help, those around us who need it.

Because I have listened, I have been in a position to act upon what I have heard.

Because I have listened, I have been told by young people that they worry about death.

Because I have listened, I have been told that they don’t want to exist.

Because I have listened and asked, I have been able to remove a means of self-harm.

Because I have listened, I have found out that their pet gecko is called Eddie Lizzard.

Sometimes hearing the truth of a young person’s feelings breaks my heart but by being there, I can try to help practically but also be an ear that does not judge.

What a privilege it is to be trusted. What a privilege it is to be trusted enough to help.

With this privilege in mind, I would like to take the idea of listening, of offering space for young people, and others, to be listened to, into Coventry and Warwickshire’s Year of Wellbeing to see what I can find out, and how I could offer help. And I would encourage you to do the same of one another. Put the kettle on, invite someone over, visit a friend, go for a walk and listen to what people are going through. Share with them. And maybe, by listening, we can help support one another’s mental wellbeing.

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About the author

Ruth Henderson is a full-time Youth Pastor for the Rugby Methodist Church Centre (RMCC), freelance theatre director and full-time mum. Her work at RMCC also takes her into schools, youth groups and uniformed organisations.

As part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Year of Wellbeing, Ruth will be working with a group of young people from Rugby to create a performance based on teenagers, their brains and what it means to grow up in 2019.

 

Click here to find out more about Coventry and Warwickshire's Year of Wellbeing 2019.

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