Rae-Anne Preece has recently been appointed as a detached outreach researcher and youth worker in the Bromsgrove Anglican churches team. Her role will involve going into the community to meet with 13 – 19 year olds and listening to their voices especially those living in the poorer areas of Bromsgrove.

“The local churches have already been running a number of programmes for young people, Rae-Anne said. “I’ll be going out to talk to them to find out how we can provide activities for them that they want to engage with!”

Rae-Anne will be working 18 hours a week and will be spending two or three nights a week out and about, taking the church to the young people rather than expecting them to come to us. It’s a 12-month role, after which it’s hoped that there will be new opportunities set up for the young people.

“I’m looking forward to working with the young people,” continued Rae-Anne. “It’s an opportunity to help them develop and build healthier relationships and to understand their needs.

Rae-Anne herself had a troubled upbringing. Her parents split up when she was eleven years old and her Mum suffered from undiagnosed manic bi-polar disorder for many years. “I didn’t engage with education and became involved with gangs and started breaking the law. It was five years ago that I realised that I needed to start turning my life around – if only for my daughter’s sake. I became involved with a number of voluntary organisations who supported me and a women’s refuge in Birmingham encouraged me to pass qualifications in English and Maths. Thanks to the faith people had in me, I slowly began to believe in myself and have now completed a Youth and Community work degree. I am hoping to do my Masters alongside my work with the parish.”

Rae-Anne’s Christian faith has also developed considerably after a friend’s Mum introduced her to a House Church and began to mentor her. “Faith has always been a part of my life, but definitely something that I turned to when things were going wrong rather than giving thanks for when things went right! However, I now believe I’ve got a real calling to work with young people and to serve them”.

Part of Rae-Anne’s role will be to liaise with other local organisations and train up volunteers so that the work is sustainable. She is also planning to do some research into social media and youth violence. “I’m looking forward to working in a new community with people who know me as the person that I am now, not who I was. And I hope that I can make a difference to the young people living locally and help bring their voices back to the local community including the churches.