SERVE TEAM FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
SERVE TEAM YEAR
What does a typical week look like for a SERVE Team member?
Each one of our teams looks a little different when it comes to their weekly schedule and the types of work they do. The basic structure is:
- Monday mornings: meet with the Tees Valley Youth for Christ team for worship and prayer
- Weekdays: schools and community work with your team
- Evenings and weekends: help to lead youth and children’s activities at your host church or in the community
- Day off: we require that you have 1 full day off each week. Sometimes a one-off event may fall on your day off, but if this happens we require that your placement substitutes another day in the week as time off.
What will my role with my church placement look like?
Your host church will be where you worship on Sundays and your primary church community while you are here. The majority of the churches we work with have a youth worker on staff, and you will be working with them to run youth and children’s activities. This will probably be a mix of activities for young people who attend the church, and outreach events for those who live in the community. Some of the churches we work with don’t have a youth worker, and your role would be focused more on developing youth activities for the church. We tend to place older, more experienced volunteers in these type of placements.
What will my host church be like?
We work with churches of many denominations, sizes, styles, and backgrounds. You may be placed with a host church that looks very different to your church at home. Even if it looks very similar, you will be experiencing church in a new cultural context which can take some getting used to. This is part of the SERVE Team, and we want you to learn and grow from the church that you’re placed with. All of the churches we work with are committed to following Jesus and seeing others come to know Him.
Another aspect of the experience is learning to work in a church, and not just attend. You could be leading a Sunday School class or helping in some other way during the service, which means that you will need to seek out opportunities to be poured into and spend time with God yourself. We recommend that each SERVE Team member starts spiritually preparing themselves for this as soon as you know you’re coming, as you will definitely have to rely on God more deeply and have solid spiritual disciplines!
What type of training is provided?
We begin the year with two weeks of training as a whole team, and specifically focus on getting ourselves ready for the year ahead. These weeks are a mixture of spiritual training, cultural training and ministry training alongside time for spiritual retreat and reflection. A few of the topics we cover include:
- The basics of youth work in the UK
- Practical workshops- how to plan and lead lessons, personal budgeting and understanding mental health issues
- Youth work contexts- working in schools, churches, communities and mentoring situations
- Team dynamics & personality types
Throughout the year, we build time in to your schedules to provide additional training on relevant and topical issues. Our experienced staff and volunteer team are also all very willing and able to meet with you one-on-one should you ever need help or guidance for specific circumstances.
Is housing provided?
Yes, the majority of our volunteers live with English host families from the church where they are based. A small number of volunteers live together in houses or flats provided by their host church.
We expect you to treat your hosts as part of your mission for the year, and to have a servant heart when it comes to how you treat them. This means helping around the house without having to be asked, keeping your room clean, helping with the dishes, and generally being considerate.
How will I get around while I am there?
The public transportation system is excellent, and you can typically get a bus or train to anywhere you need to be. Occasionally our team members who drive will be able to help with rides, but we do expect volunteers to learn to get themselves around. You will probably walk more during year than you ever have before!
Will there be breaks when I can go home or travel to other parts of the UK/Europe?
Yes, you will get two weeks off during the Christmas holidays, one week at Easter and another flexi-week to use when you’d like, plus national holidays to take throughout the year. You will need to arrange your times off with your church placement before you decide to travel anywhere. We are also open to being flexible and allowing additional time for big events like weddings but these extra requests must first be discussed with us ahead of time.
How much does the year cost, and what is included?
If coming from the UK, the cost of the Serve Team is £3000. This includes your training, host home accommodation, conferences and team socials. If you live locally and do not need host home accommodation, the cost per year is £1200.
If coming from outside the UK, you will raise an estimated $16,500. This will cover everything from your housing, food, training, and admin costs as well as your your in-country costs (phone credit, local transport, and around £90 per week spending money). This will be enough to live off of, but you will need to be careful with your spending. We would encourage you to keep personal spending to a minimum. The costs of your visa, health surcharge, international travel, background check and medical travel insurance are included in this. Any extra travelling that you might want to do around the UK/Europe is your responsibility to pay for. If for whatever reason you leave the programme before your agreed contracted end date, your fundraised money will remain with the charity.
What isn’t included in the cost of the year?
Your budget will cover general day-to-day ministry and living expenses. However you may want to raise extra money for extras like meals out, takeaway coffee, cinema or gym memberships, and other social activities. Any extra travelling that you might want to do around the UK/Europe is also your responsibility to pay for.
Will I need a visa to travel to the UK?
Yes, anyone coming from outside of the UK will need a Temporary Work – Charity Worker visa. Tees Valley Youth for Christ will send you detailed information about how to go through each step of the process and we will be with you every step of the way to answer any questions that arise.
What does the visa application process look like?
The first thing we’ll do is issue a certificate of sponsorship that says you’re coming to work for Tees Valley Youth for Christ and what you’ll be doing with us. You’ll then complete an online visa application, and at the end you’ll be asked to make a biometrics appointment. This is an appointment to have your fingerprints and photos taken. Once you’ve been for your appointment, your completed visa application gets mailed off and you will hear back about your application usually within 15 working days.
How long will it take for my visa application to be approved?
Currently, the UK Border Agency says that it is processing 99% of Tier 5 applications within 15 working days. Things can get delayed if you haven’t completed your paperwork properly; the Border Agency will typically contact you to request that you send the right information to them before they can proceed with processing your application.