This Way Up
Pete English is CEO of the youth charity This Way Up, which supports young people affected by family breakdown, bereavement and any kind of loss, as well as training churches to use its Lost & Found small group course material. Further information can be found at www.twup.org.uk
It was 6.30am on a cold winter morning when I knocked on my neighbours front door to do our paper round together. I was 14 years old. Mr Rutter came to the door. “Just to let you know Mrs Rutter died last night”, he said. “Okay,” I said. Lynn and I did our paper round in silence. I went home and said to myself, “Why are you so upset? It wasn’t your mum.”
And yet it felt like it was my mum who had died. Brought up by my gran, I spent every waking moment in my next door neighbour’s house with their four children who became my family. When Mrs Rutter died, I didn’t know where to go with my grief, because I didn’t feel I had permission to grieve.
Fast forward to 2006, and my wife and I set up This Way Up – a charity which aims to offer support to young people struggling with loss whatever that loss may look like. It’s interesting how God uses our past experiences!
Here we are now in 2014 and This Way Up is working in 8 local schools in Solihull seeing 170 young people per year and regularly providing a listening ear to young people struggling with issues around family breakdown or bereavement. Young people, like Matt who used to get so angry in school because of what he was dealing with at home. Matt didn’t understand why his dad no longer wanted to be with his family and it was affecting his moods, his self esteem and his grades. A This Way Up mentor helped Matt to develop strategies to cope and understand his feelings and after a few months helped him with strategies to cope better.
Local schools are desperate for support for young people dealing with issues like this. Perhaps your church could be trained to support young people affected by family breakdown and bereavement? Contact us for more details on 0121 439 9181.