Who are we?
Nexus is a youth project based here in Highworth for young people aged between 11-16 who live in Highworth or surrounding areas.
The project began in early 2015 with Highworth Community Partnership after Swindon Borough Council had identified concerns from residents in a listening survey that there was little for young people to get involved in the town. There had been a perceived increase in anti-social behaviour and people were keen to work with us to find solutions.
Sisters - Rosie Grant-Willson and Charlie Murdoch - quickly saw this as an opportunity to get involved in a community project using the passion that they have for young people, seeing their God-given potential, and having a willingness to walk alongside the hurting and broken, the shaping of it to be in tune with the needs of the young people. Funds and awareness were raised, and the project began with the support of Highworth Town Council and Highworth Churches Together. HCC were first to offer their support and we receive a regular monthly sum from them - thank you! Without the support of HCC, Nexus couldn't operate.
Along with applying for funding streams from various trusts Nexus is also supported by The Coventry Building Society in the High Street. Rosie and Charlie wish to create an inclusive community project. They believe that there can be a wide impact on families and the community when young people are encouraged to get involved in volunteering and engaged in a community project such as ours. The sisters were raised here in Highworth and have had their own families here; for whatever reason God has given them a specific desire for this place to see his kingdom come here in Highworth!
Joshua 1:9 ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your god is with you wherever you go’.
What do we do?
There are three aspects for the project: a youth café - a safe space where young people could drop in for a chat, play games, make friends and chill out; a mentoring service, and detached youth work.
Having run a youth cafe in the basement of one of the town cafes, Charlie and Rosie really felt they needed their own premises from which to run the project; there simply wasn't enough space in the cafe basement and they also needed access to outdoor space for the better weather. Sadly the premises didn’t happen soon enough and we were forced to close our café sessions when the town cafe business closed. However, the team are not deterred but rather more determined!
Instead of panicking and trying to re-open somewhere else Nexus has diversified, spending more time on mentoring and detached youth work, whilst also launching a multi-sports session every Monday at the local sports centre. This is really well attended!
Obviously there are lots of enquiries as to when the café is re-opening, this is a feature lots of our young people have really missed, and whilst there is nothing definite as yet the team hope is that it is going to be very soon. Funding has been secured and rented premises are being adapted to suit the project's needs. This process has been extremely slow and is a source of frustration for us so please do be praying! As Charlie explains, 'We want great quality provision to be here for the long term, for all the young people who live here to be able to access it.'
The mentoring service is mostly based at Warneford too, where young people can be referred by the heads of year, but young people can also self-refer, and we can signpost to other agencies, such as CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). The team are seeing up to ten individuals a week who are facing issues such as bullying, anger management or who are young carers. Strengths-based mentoring tools are used and the team actively encourage and walk alongside young people.
Rosie and Charlie are seeing an impact on the young people they mentor and are delighted to hear of the overall impact this is having in school. Charlie says, 'We love how Jesus is using us in this way to be here in school!'
End of term trips, in association with Youth Action Wiltshire, are also available. Hours have been spent den-building, climbing, raft-building and well, actually having a lot of fun!
In November of 2016 Nexus won an award for being the best new youth provision in Wiltshire as well as having just been shortlisted for the Prince of Wales Trust Award!
Detached Youth Work
The detached work is a passion for the Nexus team. It allows them to connect with the ‘NEETS’, those who are not in education or training, and Rosie and Charlie absolutely love this important part of the project! They also spend time on Tuesday lunchtimes in the Warneford School courtyard talking with some of the young people. It can take a long time to build relationships, and so being totally consistent and reliable is key here.
Obviously, although this is a long read it can only give you a flavour of who Nexus is and what they are doing here in Highworth. Their passion is for people, whether it’s the lovely young people with whom they're working, the staff at school or the volunteers. Nexus has faced challenges and disappointments along the way, but can celebrate its successes and focus on the good that lies ahead. Nexus is journeying with Jesus and trusting that he has all the answers. He has the joy, he has the energy and the passion, and the drive.
Charlie says, 'Knowing him and understanding a teensy bit about the magnitude of his love for us compels us to get out of bed in the morning and say, ‘Here I am send me!' We aren’t special but we are willing to be his hands and feet and we are blessed beyond comprehension to know that, even if we sometimes get it wrong, he delights in our efforts and is cheering us on.
Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me’, are words we frequently take refuge in.
If you’d like to know more about the charity, you can follow them on their Facebook page, ‘Highworth Youth Nexus’, or their website www.nexusproject.co.uk. Both Rosie and Charlie can be contacted directly (details on their website). They'd love the opportunity to answer your questions.