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Doddinghurst Road Community Church is so much more than a church. Based right in the heart of the community it provides a safe space, a community space, a place to chat, a place to seek help, a place to just be, for anyone who needs this support.

The VVU popped along to meet Aaron, the church youth worker and community pastor. One of the main things Aaron is involved in is the youth provision, DRCC Youth. It was this aspect we were interested in learning more about as we currently support DRCC Youth by providing funding to the project.

The youth provision currently means Aaron is out and about in a lot of places! On a Monday he works with Essex Youth Service in Brentwood talking to young people in the places they hang out. On Wednesday he runs indoor, after school, youth provision at the church, and then Thursday is spent in local schools doing one to one youth work with young people identified through the previous day sessions.

The detached youth work with Essex Youth service has been credited with reducing antisocial behaviour in Brentwood town centre. When the youth bus was used at the Christmas Lighting Up Brentwood Festival not a single ASB incident was recorded.  Detached youth workers were based on the bus giving out hot chocolate and snacks and running various activities. Throughout the day 108 young people were engaged with and lots of topics discussed – safety, what things there are to do in their area, school, relationships, vaping and drugs, knife crime, social expectations and also what opportunities there are in place for young people in the Brentwood area.

The Wednesday sessions see about 20 young people descend on the church to take part in sports, crafts and gaming. These sessions are often where the young people start to build the relationship with Aaron and his team, which then leads – if needed – to the more tailored one to one support delivered through local schools on a Thursday.

Aaron is currently supporting seven individuals on a one-to-one basis. The issues vary among the individuals supported, each one personal to that young person.

The very tangible presence of Doddinghurst Road Community Church allows it to be a real focus for the community and thus those that work there and attend sessions there become more understanding of the community around it.  Through DRCC Youth, Aaron is keen to surround the young people with access to support and incorporate this into the community work. The purpose of the church being to work with the young people and their families with no judgement on background or belief. Supporting those who need the support on many different issues.

Aaron comments that the need for trusted adults and youth work around a child seems to have increased. For every ten young people he meets in the open sessions eight probably need some kind of support, this used to be more like two.

Doddinghurst Road Community Church is a special place, it’s warm, it’s welcoming, it’s vibrant. The people we saw using the community space were comfortable and safe. The youth provision is reaching lots of young people and making a real difference to individuals and the wider community.

We wish it every success and look forward to visiting again soon.