By Michael Dowell, Discovery Gap Year intern, working at St Peter’s Church in Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary Church in Upham
I applied to the scheme because I saw it as a great opportunity to take part in some of the many ways a church is involved with the community, and I was placed in St Peter’s Church in Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary Church in Upham.
At these churches I have got involved in leading youth groups, helping out in Sunday services, running workshops and so much more, such as walking 20 miles to raise money for charity!
I’ve also been privileged to observe the Southampton Street Pastors – a group who spend their Friday or Saturday nights helping vulnerable people on the streets.
Experiencing such a range of activities, aimed at everyone, of all ages, alongside witnessing the vast amount of work which happens behind the scenes, has created unique memories which will stay with me throughout my life.
An extremely valuable part of this year was the chance, every other Friday, for all of us working at our different placement churches (including a Christian Aid intern) to come together to talk about recent events, reflect upon difficult challenges and have fun.
To help us with our reflections we were often joined by Connie Sherman, our brilliant young vocations advisor.
I have found these reflections very useful, because in the midst of all my new activities and experiences, it was very important to be able to step back and spend time thinking about what went well and about what I could do to improve.
And with reflection activities ranging from lighting floating candles to clay modelling, we’ve gained new ideas about ways to reflect which we can take away with us into the future.
Through the many lessons I have learnt, the friends I have made and the moments I never expected to experience, this gap year has been a truly awesome endeavour.
I’m extremely grateful to all those involved, and would definitely recommend it!
For more information about the Discovery Gap Year, see http://dopdiscovery.weebly.com/
For more information about St Peter’s Church, see stpetersbishopswaltham.org.uk/
For more information about Blessed Mary Church, see uphamvillage.org.uk/church/