Welcome to our webpage!
The Twelve Youth Leadership Team was founded in May 2019 in order to give young people in the Diocese of Leeds the opportunity to engage more with the Church and share what they are passionate about. We are a team of young people from parishes across the Diocese of Leeds who have gathered together for prayer, fellowship and formation leading to our commissioning by Bishop Marcus which took place on National Youth Sunday 2019. We are working in collaboration with Bishop Marcus and are meeting him regularly to talk about Diocesan matters and priorities, giving a voice to young people across the Diocese.
“You, dear young people, are not the future but the now of God.”
Pope Francis – World Youth Day, Panama, 2019
Caritas Leeds, Leeds Citizens and the Leeds Diocesan Youth Service are working together in partnership to help facilitate and provide ongoing formation to The Twelve. So far we have focused on leadership in scripture, general leadership and communication skills, general information about the Diocese, some of the structures, projects and key people within the Diocese. From this and listening to other young people in our areas, we have put together priorities that we would like to focus on this year that we feel are particularly relevant to young people across the Diocese of Leeds.
Our Latest Meeting…
On Saturday 11th September 2021 we came together for our first meeting of the new academic year! Just before the summer, 14 young people from across the Diocese of Leeds were recruited to join The Twelve and this first meeting was a great opportunity for everyone to come together and begin this year’s formation!
As part of this meeting, we looked at scripture and how what the Bible teaches us relates to our role as The Twelve – particularly looking at the ‘Feeding of the 5000’ and the ‘Parable of the Persistent Widow’. We also did lots of team building, communication skills and focused on what makes a good leader.
Our Name and Logo
We are named The Twelve, not necessarily for our number, but in inspiration of the small group of apostles who, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transformed the history of the world when they took Christ’s Gospel to people all over the earth.
As part of our formation, one of the focuses was on leadership and effectively working as part of a team. One of the ways of looking at this was by examining the flying pattern of geese, which included flapping arms like geese for quite a while! The flock of geese fly in a ‘V’ formation as when each goose flaps, they create an uplift for the following geese which adds 71% greater flying range compared to when working alone. The whole flock develop a sense of common direction, each takes turns in doing the harder tasks, they are supported by the others, they stand by each other in difficult times as well as when they’re strong and they are also willing to ask for help when it is needed. This example of teamwork and leadership, as well as the great memory of flapping like geese meant that this was the perfect logo for us.
What We've Done So Far...
Since we began in May 2019 and were Commissioned at Leeds Cathedral by Bishop Marcus in November 2019, we have had regular meetings both in person and, since the pandemic, online. Throughout the first year, we spent a lot of time looking at scripture and examples of leadership in the Bible; learning more about the Diocese of Leeds, it’s work and mission; developing our leadership, teamwork and communication skills and making the links between the scripture that we read and the way that we lead.
Our main role is to give a voice to young people in Diocesan decision making and contributing towards key events and activities aimed at young people. As part of this, we were invited to look at the Review and Strategic Plan of the Leeds Diocesan Youth Service for the next three years and give our feedback. Looking at all that the Youth Service had achieved between 2016-19, seeing their plans for the next few years and being given the opportunity to openly give feedback, share ideas and help to shape their focus was a great opportunity and gave us the confidence that we, and our ideas, would actually be taken seriously.
We have been able to meet with Bishop Marcus to share our thoughts and ideas on various topics, as well as hearing from him what he would like us to focus on. Bishop Marcus asked us to talk to other young people and ask them: What lights your fire and what are you passionate about? In response to this, we put together a questionnaire and shared this with young people in our local areas to learn and understand what other young people view as important for the diocese to focus on. From this data and reflecting on key areas of the diocese, we decided on our priorities and areas to focus on.
The pandemic has brought about many challenges and for young people, this has meant not being able to interact with friends in person, moving between studying at school in the classroom and having to learn from home, the strain of being online all day and the anxieties of living through a global pandemic. In January 2021, Angela Cox OBE (Director of Education for the Diocese of Leeds) invited us to share our experiences, and those of others around us, of home learning, the positives and the negatives, so that she could then share this with the Diocesan Head Teachers. All the feedback that we gave was really well received and was also shared with Bishop Marcus who discussed this with the Secretary of State for Education.
Our Two Priorities
To help us focus our efforts, we spent time together looking at various aspects of the diocese. These were Parish Life, Finance, Social Action, Music, Communications and Leeds Cathedral. Our facilitators gave us two minute presentations to give us an overview of each area and then in small groups, we had lively discussions. Each group ranked the 6 areas and once we came together again and shared these, it was clear that Social Action and Communication took priority for us.
All of us and many of our friends too, are really concerned about climate change, homelessness, poverty and injustice. We know that many young people are involved with social action charities, but often not within the church. We know that within our Diocese there are groups working for social action such as Caritas Leeds, SVP, CAFOD and the Justice and Peace Commission, but unless you’re involved with a Youth SVP group at your school, you probably don’t know much about what they do. We would like to find out more about the social action that is already happening in the Diocese of Leeds so that we can help young people engage with it more and develop youth leadership within these organisations.
We also felt the communications was a really important issue, especially for young people. As Christians sharing the Good News is our job and although this can be done in lots of ways, the methods that are used to communicate about our faith, about parish and diocesan events and about wider issues are crucial if people are going to feel included and valued. We would like to find out more about the work of the Diocese of Leeds Director of Communications and how we might be able to encourage more young people to get involved in spreading the word about all the good work of the Church and how we can better reach out to those at the margins.
We have met with key figures within the Diocese for both of our priorities which was really successful. They were all very interested in what we had to say and were open to hearing our feedback and suggestions. Having met with these key figures, we are putting together an Action Plan to guide us in these priorities and we are really looking forward to meeting with these groups again to further develop these priorities.
We want to accurately represent the ideas and voice of the young people within our diocese as a whole and so we try to consult others as much as possible.
In the past, this has been through physical questionnaires that we’ve asked people to fill in as well as some online methods of allowing other young people to have their say. One way we aim to reach out to young people in our diocese is via our Instagram page, which is the best way to stay updated.
Using our Instagram and the Leeds Diocesan Youth Service social media pages, we aim to promote our work and encourage more young people to engage and interact with us.
Let Us Dream Conference
On Thursday 15th April, we were given the opportunity to present at the Online International Conference based on Pope Francis’ book: Let Us Dream. The conference was called ‘A Politics Rooted In The People’ and even Pope Francis sent a video message for the event.
We presented a video about our experiences as part of The Twelve, what we’ve been doing, our development and what it’s like working in collaboration with Bishop Marcus. We also touched on how the pandemic has affected us and other young people.
It was a great opportunity to share our story and we hope that it inspires others to listen to the voice of young people in their decision making.