Eden Walsall: Helping others to help themselves

Gav Hicks, team leader of Eden Walsall, shares a recent highlight from their community:

We have been working in our community for almost four years. We’ve seen amazing things happen as well as faced many difficulties. Our work with the local young people has always been a source of great joy and sometimes frustration. Sadly, we were forced to close our youth group a few months ago. Despite this, we’ve been able to maintain great relationships with the young people as we see them on the streets and around church. We wanted something really exciting to pull them together again and so we started having conversations with them and about a day trip in the summer holidays.

Previously we’ve taken them on trips but never for a whole day. The young people excitedly suggested Drayton Manor; a local theme park which many of the group had never been to. This trip would cost hundreds once you added up the cost of transport and tickets. Many in our community face financial difficulties and so we have always strived to cover costs for such events ourselves. This time I suggested that we fundraise together and asked whether the young people would get involved in a bake sale. This soon snowballed and we had girls and guys knocking on our door day after day with new suggestions.

And this is where the idea of holding our own fete was born.  

We baked cakes, braided hair, painted faces, played games, completed challenges, ran stalls and washed cars. For three hours the young people worked really hard to raise a lot of money towards their trip. It was incredibly empowering as we saw people from different backgrounds come together and work as a team. Instead of simply handing them a ticket to a brilliant day we could say: ‘you have earnt this, your hard work and creativity has enabled you to come on this trip.’ 

The trip itself was an incredible day! We somehow managed to go on the only day that week without rain. It was a day of building friendships, overcoming fears living life to the full. 

We’re now planning to relaunch our youth group off the back of the success of this event. I want to say a big hank you to everyone who bought a cake, had their face painted, has their car (mostly) washed and especially to those who simply celebrated the young people’s presence at the church – it made a massive difference. The most incredible things that happen on Eden are not when you hand someone something they need but when you can help someone take the things they need for themselves. It is why I do Eden and I’m so grateful for God for allowing me to be a small part of his amazing work in this place. 

Interested in joining Eden? Head to joineden.org to find out more.