The Church of England has joined forces with Christian charity Youthscape to help parishes connect with young people.

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The £1.29m project is being rolled out to 450 churches across the country after being trialled in Blackburn, London and St Albans.

“It’s really a hopeful approach to engaging with young people in a parish, looking into strategies and confidence building,” Debbie Clinton, from the Church of England’s Vision and Strategy team, told Premier.

“It’s about working with church leaders to help them develop what might be the right next steps in their context.”

Church leaders will have access to a five-session training course by Youthscape to help volunteers and youth workers formulate plans to work with young people in their parishes.

“Sometimes it’s the simplest things that don’t require a lot of money, but require you to look and have insight into how young people are living in the parish, and look at where they might be able to engage with them,” Clinton continued.

Around 140 churches have already benefitted from the Launchpad scheme and they anticipate as many 4,000 young people could be reached through the scheme.

Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rt Rev Dr Michael Beasley, who has been involved with the scheme’s pilot said:

“They reported a transformation from being ‘apprehensive to enthusiastic’ at the prospect of leading youth ministry as a result,” he said.

“Each of their parishes is now working on plans to turn learning into action – ranging from offering Ignatian meditation for ten-year-olds in a local Costa to offering a drop-in cafe for youth who walk past one church’s door every day on the way home from school.

“The impact of Launchpad has been such that we have immediately booked Youthscape to lead the course for a second cohort this autumn and we look forward to more taking part next year.

“I commend Launchpad highly. As we seek to grow a church that is ‘younger and more diverse’, it is an approach that holds the possibility of generating significant change in dioceses across our land.”

The scheme will be expanded across 18 dioceses.