How a Community Work HNC can help your church

How a Community Work HNC can help your church

Lorna McIntosh was the driving force behind an HNC in Working with Communities in St John’s Church, Linlithgow. Why did she do it? Lorna explains, “We had some young people here who had no plans to go on to do further education, but who nevertheless wanted to grow their insight and faith. I presented the HNC as a solution. It was part-time, one year’s duration, and practice based. I knew that not everyone who took the course would become employed as a youth worker but I’ve noticed that it has brought about real progression.”

I ask about Lorna’s own background. “I was at RBS but I gave it up as I had always been involved in youth work and I had a real desire to “do it properly”. I completed a BA in Youth Work and Applied Theology at International Christian College. When I suggested the HNC, they did it because they trusted me, perhaps more than because they had a burning desire to do it”. She smiles. It’s clear that helping young people develop has been a great source of joy for her.

How did the young people fare on their course?
“Some did better on paper than others. Kieran is a youth worker with Linlithgow Young People’s Project (LYPP). Rachel has used it to find a place in nursery education. Cat is working on the missionary ship Logos Hope with OM and David is a part-time volunteer at St Michaels’s day care. Not everyone moved on: Cameron continued in catering, and he also volunteers with LYPP.
St John’s wanted to invest in these young people to help them in the process of finding God’s plan. In Linlithgow, we have great schools and plenty of focused young people. It makes it less easy for those who don’t feel a huge drive to study. We encouraged them not to judge themselves too harshly if they didn’t enjoy the written aspect. To us, their time studying for the HNC was a space to grow, think, reflect and communicate. For example, David was very quiet, but in a small group he gained the ability to speak up.
The fact that the qualification is generic and locally taught was useful: the HNC came to us, as it were. The course was developed and taught by professionals like Graeme McMeekin, Stewart Cutler and Diane McWilliam, and I was happy to help out with some teaching too.”

What would you like to do differently if you did it again?
“I think we would support the young people more. Although it is not university, the course is a bit like university in that people are left to their own devices regarding study. At school they’d be monitored and urged along. This was more of an adult experience where the motivation to study comes from the student. Also at the end of the course there was still quite a bit of study and papers to complete. I think we’d have tried to avoid that by monitoring progress.
We would also have spent longer linking what you learn with the life you lead. The spiritual formation was valuable and it could have been an even greater part of the course. For example, we’d perhaps have started the day with prayer and a Bible reading. It’s perhaps counter to what I have said earlier but, because it was a local course, some experiences that were not local, like a visit outside our community, would have been good.
So to sum up, maybe, because the course is good for people who have not found their way, some ‘guided encouragement’ would be appropriate!”, Lorna laughs. There is clearly a balancing act going on between letting the young people find their way and encouraging them to step up a level.

How do you feel at the end of the day?
“I am glad we did it. Certain things we would do differently. For example, the course was fairly hands-off, and we would support the young people more.
Yet the results were what we hoped for: we invested in our young people and they are better for it.”

If you would like to discuss the possibility of hosting a similar HNC course in your church, town or community, please contact our Academic Dean, Brodie McGregor.

Experience the new HNC taster course in Central Scotland
Who is it for? Ideal for anyone in a voluntary or employed role in church or community-based work, our HNC taster course allows you to learn with less travel.
What is it? An entire teaching unit on community capacity-building that is being delivered as a taster.
What does it do? Informs and develops your practice in a variety of church and community-based work.  It also counts as one of the 9 units of the HNC in Working with Communities.
Where will it take place? The course takes place in Perth.
How long does it take? The taster course takes 7 weeks, on Tuesday evenings between the end of August and October 2017.
Contact Brodie McGregor to find out more.