First of all, what is a gap year?
For those of you coming from the US, this might not be a term you’ve heard before, but people in the UK will be very familiar with the concept of taking a gap year. Gap years will typically take place between finishing college (high school) and going to university or into employment. Young people will spend the year travelling, volunteering, or working before starting the next chapter of their life. The great benefit of taking a gap year is that young people are able to spend some time experiencing the world in a new way before they make decisions about what they might want to focus on at university or pursue as a career.
At Tees Valley Youth for Christ, some of our gap year volunteers have come straight from high school, but the majority have either finished university, or are taking a break to serve with us. Some of them are still waiting on God to reveal His long-term plans for their life, but others have a clear calling to ministry and are serving with us to grow as leaders. The majority of our volunteers are single, but we do have a few married couples who have decided to spend their early years of marriage working with us.
Taking a gap year with Tees Valley Youth for Christ means dedicating a year (or more) of your life to serving God through ministry to young people, both in the local church and outside of it. We are praying that individuals or couples will join us who have a desire to seek God first in their lives, and who have a heart for seeing young people come to know Him.
What would a gap year look like for me?
To start with, we will place you with a host church for the year.
We spend a lot of time prayerfully considering where to place each gap year worker. We think through personality, gifts, experience, age/gender, the needs and work of the host churches, and the overall dynamics of each team.
You will also be a part of a Tees Valley Youth for Christ team based in the town where your host church is located.
This is made up of gap year workers placed with other churches in that town, and typically a Tees Valley Youth for Christ staff member. As a team, you will go into schools and the community together and also help run events like Cafe Church.
At your church, you will help to lead the youth and children’s groups and any outreach work they might do.
There will most likely be a youth worker at the church who you will be working alongside, but in some cases the church brings in a gap year worker to be their youth worker. We tend to place older gap year workers with experience in these types of roles.
Your church will also provide a host family for you to live with for the year.
They will be an additional support system for you to help you through the year and allow you to experience living with a British family. There are also a couple of shared houses where gap year workers are living this year, but the majority of our volunteers are living with hosts.
You’ll meet with the whole Tees Valley Youth for Christ team on Monday mornings for worship, prayer, and teaching.
One of our greatest strengths as an organisation is the amazing community of staff, volunteers, and other local youth workers who support and encourage each other as we walk this path of ministry in the Tees Valley together. You’ll also meet regularly with a church mentor who will help you to focus on your personal growth as a Christian, not just as someone in ministry.
Some more info
Our volunteers begin at two points during the year. Our main intake is in September, with a commitment to serve until the end of July. The second is in January, serving until Christmas time.
Once you have completed your application, we will contact your references. Then you will go through a series of 3 interviews with Tees Valley Youth for Christ staff, and if accepted receive a conditional place in the program dependent on a background check. We aim to give a final decision on all applications within 7 weeks of receiving them.
You will go through our training program before you start working in your placement. We place a specific focus on preparing you to do youth work in a British context. We will also take you through practical workshops to prepare you for schools work, youth groups, and community outreach.
Nationality Specific Information
We accept gap year volunteers from home as well as abroad. Click below to see information relevant to you.
Coming from the UK
If you live locally and do not need a host home, the cost of a gap year is £900. This includes training, October half term mission, national Youth for Christ conference, events throughout the year, and admin costs.
If you are coming from outside of the Tees Valley or simply want to live with hosts to get the full gap year experience, there is an additional £1200 cost. This goes directly to your host family to help cover the expenses of housing and feeding you.
We can help you to think through ideas of how you can fundraise for your gap year, and can set up a payment schedule so you don’t need to have the whole amount upfront.
Coming from the US
Where is the Tees Valley?
We are located in the North East of England, around a 5 hour drive from London. Teesside is named for the river Tees, which runs all the way through the valley. It is a great place to experience the varied aspects of English culture, and is surrounded by beautiful coastal areas and countryside. The Tees Valley is also home to some of the most deprived areas in the country and there is enormous need, both physical and spiritual. A number of social/economic problems mean that many of the young people and families who we see every week are living in circumstances that are far from ideal. With only 3% of the UK claiming to have a Christian faith, there is a real need for people to get to know the God who created and loves them. Britain is a post-Christian society with at least two generations are basically missing from the church. We are praying desperately for revival, and believe that we will see one in the Lord’s timing. We know that He can bring healing and restoration unlike any other to the Tees Valley and the rest of the UK!
We’re allowed to talk about Jesus in schools?
In UK public schools, religious education (RE) is a mandatory subject taken by all students. This provides opportunities for youth workers and ministers to go into their local schools to contribute to teaching the RE curriculum by presenting a Christian perspective on a range of topics. During these assemblies and lessons, young people get to hear aspects of the Christian message as part of their school day. Many of our workers also lead lunch time or after school clubs that combine Christian teaching with games, crafts, and other activities.
While the opportunity to speak about Christ with young people in school is incredible, we believe that relationships are also key to seeing young people come to know Jesus. Going into schools creates opportunities to build relationships with young people in their own environment, and for this reason we aim to seek out every opportunity possible to interact with students during the school day. Many of our workers regularly volunteer to help with additional subjects like music, drama, or PE. They also lead mentoring sessions, school-based community service projects, and sports clubs.
Every time we walk through the doors of a school, we have an incredible chance to show young people and school staff what Jesus looks like through how we treat them in the small, everyday encounters. We are constantly praying that occasions to invite them to events like café church or a youth club will come up, so that we can build on the foundations that are being built in school.
Before you can come to the UK to volunteer with us, you will need to apply for a Tier 5 charity worker visa. Tees Valley Youth for Christ is a visa sponsor; we will take you through the application process, and provide you with detailed information about how to complete your paperwork and biometrics appointment. The current cost of a Tier 5 visa is £450.
The UK has recently introduced a £200 Immigration Health Surcharge (per year), which you will pay as a part of your visa application. This allows you to access the National Health Service during your time in the UK, so you won’t need additional health insurance. You will have the same access to the NHS as a British person would, meaning you won’t pay anything additional for medical treatment apart from the cost of filling prescriptions (£8 each time).
Before you start your gap year, you’ll need to pay £3000 to Tees Valley Youth for Christ to cover your housing, food, training, and admin costs. On top of this, we recommend that you raise at least £3000 to cover your in-country costs (phone credit, local transport, and around £20 per week spending money). This will be enough to live off of, but you will need to be careful with your spending. If you want to raise over £3000, that is up to you. The costs of your visa, health surcharge, international travel, and FBI background check aren’t included in this £6000. Any travelling that you might want to do around the UK/Europe is also your responsibility to pay for.
What former gap year workers have to say about the program
Doing the Youth for Christ gap year was an invaluable time for me as I learned more than I could have imagined! I learned a lot about myself and who God has made me to be, I was inspired and impacted by all of the amazing kids I got the privilege of hanging out with and most of all I learned more about Jesus and as a result I am falling more in love with him! Tees Valley Youth for Christ is a huge part of awakening this beautiful part of the country to our incredible God and I would encourage you to be a part of the army that God is raising up here in Teesside to see his kingdom come!Rachel Peters (UK)
Working with youth is never something I saw myself doing. Kids terrified me, I hated speaking in public, and I would much rather let others lead. Doing a gap year completely changed my life and gave me confidence to share my faith. Tees Valley Youth for Christ helped place me in an environment that was well suited for me and gave me plenty of support and training to learn how to be an effective youth worker. Then I just left the rest up to God to transform me and give me the ability to minister to my youth.Jared Bredeson (USA)