11th July 2019

Since 2010, SparkFish has been supporting young people in important areas of the curriculum and school life. An independent, local Christian organisation that engages with all young people who go to school in Reigate, Redhill and Merstham.

This week, we catch up with Leader of Schools Ministry Harriet Pearce, to learn just how SparkFish are inspiring and encouraging young people in faith, hope and love.

SparkFish seeks to help young people to reach beneath the surface of life – to explore their identity and relationships, their values and beliefs.

SparkFish offers three strands of work to all schools, from early years to sixth form:

  1. Think! – providing space in the curriculum for spiritual development. The school sets a room aside for several days and the SparkFish team converts it into a THINK! Space. It is a special space for students to reflect, wonder, ponder and, if they wish, pray.
  2. Hope – supporting students at times of change and challenge through one to one mentoring, courses and workshops. SparkFish run transition workshops for students going to secondary school, small courses on self-esteem, mentoring and counselling programmes, and Drawing and Talking Therapy in primary schools.
  3. Learn – explaining the Christian faith and encouraging young people to make an informed choice. We offer schools help with RE lessons, assemblies, Christian Unions and PSHE lessons. In Primary Schools, we offer a popular two-part RE programme for the main festivals of the year:

We believe that there is a growing need to support young people to explore their identity and values. Young people are pulled in lots of different directions – school work, peer pressure, family need and deciding on their future. There isn’t often a lot of time left over during a significant time in their lives to think about identity and values. Our self-esteem courses give young people time to consider what makes them unique and special, how to build healthy relationships and how to look after their emotional wellbeing.

We also offer one to one mentoring and counselling sessions which give young people time out of their busy day to be still and talk about what is going on for them. Our Think! Spaces give students a time to think about what is important to them, what they are grateful for, and what they value and believe in.

During the Drawing and Talking Therapy sessions offered at St Matthew’s School, we have seen lots of students engaging well with the technique and growing in confidence to be happier both at home and in school. One year 5 student was referred for extra support as he displayed low confidence and seemed very sad. After the initial sessions where the child engaged very cautiously, he gained confidence to use the full 30 minute session, and drew extensively, gaining confidence in sharing the story of his picture. Feedback was received from a staff member working in his class that he was now happier at home.

The Community Foundation for Surrey has helped us through finding funding for our Drawing and Talking Therapy at St Matthew’s School in Redhill. This funding enabled us to recruit a Drawing and Talking practitioner for a year to see six students a term for 12 weeks of sessions. Drawing and Talking is a child-centred therapy focusing on prevention, early intervention and recovery of mental health issues. Working with a child’s inner world needs to be carried out safely and non-intrusively, with respect for the child or young person’s own pace and state of being. The Drawing and Talking practitioner learns to stay in the world of the child’s drawing during the sessions, and the child sets the pace and decides what to bring to along to these sessions. With this funding, SparkFish will be able to see eighteen students by the end of the academic year and make a significant difference to these children’s lives. We are so grateful for this support!

The Community Foundation for Surrey is a philanthropic charity inspiring local giving for local need. The grants we make to groups in Surrey such as SparkFish are made entirely possible by the giving of individuals, businesses and trusts whom we work closely with to help direct their giving to causes they are passionate about. To find out about other causes we have supported, please see our Case Studies page.