In the bible Jesus talked quite a bit about children. He said they would inherit the kingdom and that they should not be kept away from him. In fact, to even enter the kingdom a person needed to become like a child. But children’s’ work is often neglected in favour of other outreach projects, never mind that if you can’t keep the children in the church you lose your entire future congregation! Children are the future of the Church, the movers and shakers of tomorrow. This makes them just as important, if not more so, than those outside our community. If we cannot provide for those who are a part of our church family, how can we hope to help those outside of it?
Kidz Klub Leeds is a Christian Charity based out of Bridge Street Church that is dedicated to bringing the light of God’s kingdom to the children living in deprived areas of the city. They have been operating in Leeds for over ten years and do community work like the sing-along choir based in Beeston Hill United Free Church. They also do getaway holidays for children and their families, as well as work in school assemblies. These assemblies cover Christian values and relevant topics such as ‘Co-operation’, ‘Worry’ and ‘Perseverance’. Kidz Klub also do lunchtime clubs in addition to the weekly Kidz Klub sessions.
Kidz Klub runs a bus service, to pick up children from the inner city areas of East Leeds during term time, so that no matter how far away from the venue they live, the children can still attend.
There are currently four different Klubs in three different venues: Two at bridge Street, held on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings, another on Tuesday evenings in Beeston and a much newer one on Thursday evenings in Middleton. All these Klubs also do home visiting between sessions, reaching a total of over 31 000 homes.
The Bridge Street Kidz Klub visits about 13 000 children a week during term time. They take them the activity sheets for the next Klub session, ask them about their day and spending a little time just chatting and listening to them. All of this visiting is done by volunteers: even the Kidz Klub employees volunteer after office hours to meet the children in their own free time.
On Tuesday the 21st of June Susy Pinnington from Network Leeds, joined Owen, Alice and Pretti on their weekly visit around Harehills and Gipton. They visited around seventy-five children living who attend the Saturday morning Kidz Klub.
Kidz Klub is only available to children aged between four and eleven –primary school age. On the visits we also met children who had been in Kidz Klub in the past, but were now too old. We also had the privilege of meeting the younger siblings of current members. They were very much eagerly looking forward to being able to join in the next year or so, as soon as they were old enough.
Children of all ages and ethnicities were visited and talked to. They were also given the week’s colouring-in sheet, which had a bible verse at the top which they were encouraged to read out. Quite a few children came from non-English-speaking backgrounds and were mostly quiet as they listened to the volunteers talk. They heard about the water fight that would be going on at Kidz Klub that coming Saturday. Other children however, were wildly excited to have their weekly Kidz Klub visitor at the door asking for them and chattered happily about school and what else they were doing. Some even asked for –and got– extra sheets for younger siblings. How wonderful is that!
Each volunteer or group of volunteers has an area they visit regularly, so the families of the children also get to know them and join in the conversations as well: Kidz Klub is clearly not just somewhere to send your child on Saturday mornings to keep them out of trouble, but very much a part of the local community.
Through talking to Owen, Suzy discovered that he decided to work for Kidz Klub because he wanted to be able to see the children of Leeds, really be able to fulfil their potential. He explained how many children who live in deprived areas, have so few real opportunities available to them. He sees Kidz Klub as helping to broaden the horizons of the children and challenging the deeper issues of identity, confidence and self-worth that arise in such circumstances. “Gods plan isn’t always simple,” he says, “but Kidz Klub provides a foundation that affects people’s lives in the long-term.”
Like every other registered charity Kidz Klub has a constitution, but their fundamental vision is to see children educated mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and to reach every child in Leeds aged between four and eleven with the gospel. Jesus offers healing for all wounds people suffer from, mental, physical or otherwise, and he has a special place in his kingdom for children.
For further information visit www.kidzklubleeds.org.uk