For the past seven years, Trinity Learning has offered work experience placements to Abingdon’s three secondary schools with great success, and in 2016 we hosted our 25th student.

Every year, thousands of Year 10 pupils across the country have to find themselves a work experience placement. With many employers already hosting apprentices and others struggling with cut-backs, finding a work placement can be almost impossible. For those without family ties, or those who aren’t confident in their abilities , finding a placement can be a daunting prospect.

Trinity and All Saints Church have been able to provide experience to a wide range of students with learning difficulties and disabilities. Having a work placement with the church offers young people more encouragement and care than they may receive in commercial environments. They find themselves within a caring community, encountering different behavioural codes and, for some, feeling more cherished and valued than ever before.

Church life offers the students opportunities to encounter wide variety of tasks, from office work and maintenance to preparing for events and catering. This means that they can explore different types of work and work to their strengths. One student interested in photography provided us with a bank of photos to use in church PowerPoints. We always try to build in tasks requiring working to deadlines alongside more open-ended projects for the students to make their own, such as display work, or magazine article for the church magazine. At the end of the week, the students receive a formal letter of reference which focuses on their achievements, rather than weaknesses, something which many of our visitors will never have had before.

This is not an evangelical exercise, but our visitors leave with a clearer understanding of church life and what it is all about. Contrary to all the stereotypes of teenagers and generation gaps, they always say that the highlight of their week is the welcome given them by our elderly users-groups. The feeling is mutual – our (ageing) congregation enjoys the breath of fresh air that they bring, as well as the help they give us.

Our schools are desperately short of work experience placements. This is a real service that our churches can offer the community, that can also help us and the young people we welcome into our community. We recommend it to you. It’s also a great opportunity for the church. You don’t need a church office – just someone who’s patient, able to co-ordinate the young person’s week and lots of church volunteers who need a helping hand!

Below are some documents to help churches with work experience:

Some of our resources

Oxfordshire County Council Paperwork