Young Adult Leadership Programme – Sam Robinson

When I first heard about the Young Adult Leadership Programme I thought it sounded incredible. It had been described as encompassing spiritual practice, Quaker history, responding to conflict, group facilitation as well as increasing your involvement with your Quaker community, amongst other things.

I would have been interested in attending the course had it been just focused on any one of those aspects, let alone all of them in one! So why at first did I decide not to apply?

The Young Adult Leadership Programme (YALP) takes place over the course of a year and I was about to start my final year at University, which I expected to involve me drowning in work. On top of that I was concerned about the cost, which seemed like more than I could afford myself. After a few emails reminding me about it and a conversation at my local meeting however I decided I would apply.

A year later and two thirds of the way through the course, myself and some of the other participants have found what a range of Quaker trusts and grant funds there are, many of whom are very keen to contribute towards the education of Young Friends. We have also found support from the generous contributions of YFGM and our local meetings.

In terms of fitting it into a busy life, for me YALP has encouraged an ethos of ‘setting aside times of quiet’ rather than rushing to get things done, which if anything has made me far more productive in the long run.

You would be hard pressed to find a more all encompassing course on Quakerism, particularly one for Young Friends. After the first summer residential at Woodbrooke, l was amazed to find how little I really knew about Quaker history. I read more about John Wilhelm Rowntree and the Summer School movement, which was designed to awaken spiritual awareness in the Society and led to the establishment of Woodbrooke and a renaissance in Quaker outward action. It was inspiring to discover what an incredible influence J. W. Rowntree and other young Friends have had in shaping Quakerism as we know it today.

Recording clerk Paul Parker has described the confidence and outspokenness among Friends today as the stirrings of a new period of growth and revitalisation (or Whoosh!), perhaps not unlike the reinvigoration of the Summer School movement. It’s certainly an exciting time to be involved in the Young Adult Leadership Programme. This is particularly true in light of Britain Yearly Meeting’s Canterbury commitment, which calls on all of us to respond to the challenges of global climate change. In order for Quakers to lead the way we will need a new generation of leaders to do so. YALP seems to be the right course at the right time.

For more contact Michael Eccles at: michael.eccles@woodbrooke.org.uk or call 0121 415 6760

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