Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: Concern for the individual

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‘More than just a song’, is the way they advertise themselves.

Who are we talking about? The YMCA, no less.

So much going on in their world at the present time, it seems.

According to newsletters of the YMCA, Eastbourne and Wealden branch, their members are heavily involved in a great variety of initiatives.

These include providing housing for vulnerable, high-risk, homeless young people in four residences here and in Hailsham; Charlie’s Youth Access Centre; educating students in schools and FE colleges on the issue of homelessness and the reality of independent living; Community Youth Engagement project – arranging activities and sports sessions for 11-18 year olds; an expedition to South Africa (‘Inner Journey’), which encompasses a programme of experiential learning in the areas of conservation, environmental awareness, cultural diversity, HIV/AIDS and youth justice.

Quite a mission!

Susie Blundell, Chaplain, would agree. She is a fairly recent addition to the team in this role, it transpires, and is excited about the work she is called to do. Previously a trustee, then a member of staff, she is very much a ‘hands-on’ person. A graduate in law and criminology, Sheffield

University,

Susie once worked for the probation service, so has a built-in interest in and concern for the needs of the individual.

“My remit is to spend time with young people, giving them an opportunity to talk about faith and spirituality, among other issues. Holistic care is so important. I tell my contacts: ‘If you’ve got questions, information is available.’”

She is also responsible for connecting with the churches, seeking to raise the profile of the ministry which, even in these difficult days of recession, is still growing.

“I try to take an objective view of things. On occasions, it is exhausting, close to chaos! All our young friends have a story to share and we just get bits of it. We sometimes ask ourselves:

‘How are these people still here?’ They are amazingly resilient and that is truly inspiring.”

Susie delights to share the New Testament chapter known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5, 1-12).

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit ...

‘Blessed are those who mourn ...

‘Blessed are the meek ...

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness ...

‘Blessed are the merciful ...

‘Blessed are the pure in heart ...

‘Blessed are the peacemakers ...

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted ...’

She adds her own comment: “We can always identify with one group at some point.

Notice that there is a promise for all ...

‘ ... theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘ ... they will be comforted.

‘ ... they will inherit the earth.

‘ ... they will be filled.

‘ ... they will be shown mercy.

‘ ... they will see God.

‘ ... they will be called sons of God.’

Susie Blundell keeps herself extremely busy, what with family commitments as well, but there is obviously a lot of pleasure and fulfilment in her chaplaincy outreach with the YMCA.

Long may it continue. More than just a song!