In November 2022 we were thrilled to be named Charity of the Year in the Tunbridge Wells Love Where We Live Awards.
Sarah, along with Flic (Trustee)
and Heather and Jacob (Volunteers) enjoyed a wonderful evening
as one of the finalists at the awards ceremony and were
bowled over to be named Charity
of the Year for 2022.
It was a lovely evening celebrating
so many local people and groups that work hard to improve the lives of others and make Tunbridge Wells a great place to live. There were some truly inspiring stories and it was amazing to hear of so much good.
As many of you will know, Em and Nick set up Life & Soul around twenty years ago. The charity has grown and evolved in that time and both Em and Nick have worked for the charity in several different roles during that time. Having trained as
a Play Therapist with Life & Soul,
Em has been working in a local primary school for a number of years, providing a valuable and much needed intervention for some of the children there. Em says…
“Play Therapy allows children to express their feelings and understand their emotions and experiences by creating a safe space for them. Over the past months I have been working with children who have been learning to cope with a wide variety of difficult situations. It has been a privilege to spend time with the children and see their confidence and self-esteem grow as they learn strategies to deal with the challenges that face them. Children have said comments such as “I’m so glad I have someone to talk to about how I feel” And “I love coming here because I feel safe.” It has also been great to hear how play therapy has helped the whole family and how parents have commented that they understand their child more after they have talked
The trustees feel that Life & Soul’s focus is on Unlimited and Connect Mentoring going forward, where demand is growing, and no longer on Play Therapy and so Em has decided to leave in the summer.
Without Em, and her vision and heart for the lost and the vulnerable, Life & Soul wouldn’t be here and wouldn’t have helped countless young people over so many years. So many young lives out there now know something of their own unique value and have the skills to navigate life well because of Em’s heart and her passion which has been worked
out through Life & Soul.
We will miss Em’s smile and infectious enthusiasm at our team meetings but know that she will always be a valued member of the wider Life & Soul family.
Demand for Connect Mentoring continues to be high and in January we trained another group of people in the solution-focused approach.
Christ Church was the venue for our first Life & Soul quiz night. The hall was packed with teams all hoping to be crowned Quiz Winners. The rounds followed the traditional ones of Geography and History etc but with a few unusual ones thrown in such as ‘Name that Pasta’ and ‘Venn that Tune’ AJ did a fabulous job of hosting the evening and keeping the questions coming. One of the highlights of the evening was an auction of puddings. Many local cafes, bakeries and delis had kindly donated a pudding for eight people which we auctioned off to be enjoyed after the fish and chip supper. The auction alone raised a whopping £700 and we are so grateful to everyone for their generosity.
If you didn’t manage to secure a table this year then do watch out, the Life & Soul quiz will be back again next year.
Earlier this year, Sarah and Jenny responded to the feedback schools had given us through running Unlimited. Teachers in schools told us that they would appreciate something that addresses, more specifically, the needs and anxieties around transitioning from Year 6 into secondary school. Therefore, we set about creating a new course that runs in the same way as Unlimited, but this time covering topics for slightly older children. It is often some time in Year 6 that children are given their first mobile phone.
This comes with a mixture of positives and negatives, which is why we spend two sessions on healthy phone use, as well as wise internet and social media use. There are so many great things we can do online, we are keen not to simply warn of the dangers, but to equip children to use it well.
Other topics we cover include:
- Healthy friendships
- Identity and self-worth
- Coping with change
When Katie and Jenny trialled the course at Wadhurst Primary School, they had fantastic feedback from both the children and the teachers.
In March we were thrilled to hear of the safe arrival of Phoebe Taylor. We are missing Sarah whilst she is off on maternity leave but send huge congratulations to Sarah, Gordon and Daniel.
We always go into the new financial year holding our breath slightly as our budget includes income from grants that we hope in faith will come in. As the year progresses, we learn to lean into God more, and trust that he will provide.
Last year most grants came in during the 1st and 2nd quarters which felt very comfortable, but this year has been quite different, and although we have reserves to lean on, we have had to wait until nearly the end of the third quarter to see God provide in exciting ways!
We heard in April that the Dorothy Kerin Trust (formerly Burrswood) wanted to give us a significant grant over the next two years, and are committed to working with us long term. This is a massive answer to prayer of God’s provision and is allowing us to step into expanding our projects with Limitless and going into more schools to provide valuable mentoring services.
We have also, in the last week received a grant for £3000 from The Family Trust based in Maidstone which was unexpected and not applied for directly, so we are excited that our name is getting known around the area. In February, with the success of our quiz night raising £1500, and spreading the word to help raise awareness of the charity’s work, it feels like we have gained some momentum. We are so grateful for those who give monthly donations and local churches who regularly support us, this provides a level of known income which allows us to plan. We are seeking to increase awareness of the work of Life & Soul to encourage more people, who believe in what we do, to partner with us by regularly giving financially.
So, please spread the word, follow us on social media, and keep praying for God to bring the right people and trusts into our paths so we can continue to work with young people, as God has called us to do.
Looking back again, we have had so many wonderful answers to prayer, there is so much to give thanks for:
- The safe arrival of baby Phoebe
- Financial provision
- New schools using our services
- Our wonderful team who are so gifted in what they do.
- All our wonderful volunteer mentors, including some new ones.
Please pray for:
- God’s continued wisdom and guidance as we look to see how we can reach more young people who need our help
- For young people themselves, that they would all know ‘Life in all its fullness’.