Welcome to our Children and Young People Development Practitioners
Megan Tillbrook and Stefanie Hoyle
Hello! I’m Megan. I’m 28 years old and I am from Doncaster.
I have had the privilege of working with young people for the past 10 years. As a teenager my faith was always important to me. I was active in my local Church and participated in pilgrimages to Lourdes as a young person (and later as a youth leader). The time that I spent in Lourdes really brought my faith to life. I was blessed to witness God’s love in action and moreover the power of young people being God’s hands and feet on Earth through service to others and to each other. Looking back I am certain that this was me rejoicing in what God had put on my heart – a love for, and a calling to minister to, young people. Following my A-Levels I took a year out and volunteered as part of a Youth Ministry Team in the RC Diocese of Hallam. The work of the gap year volunteers was to travel around local primary and secondary schools delivering retreat programmes, leading worship and encouraging young people in the development of their faith. We would also lead young people in preparation for the Sacraments. It was during my time with the youth team that I began to fall in love with the bible. We lived in community together for 10 months where each day started and ended with a time of prayer and scripture.
I studied at Sheffield Hallam University but maintained my links with the Youth Ministry team throughout my time at university and after graduation I was employed as a Youth Development Officer. I realised (rather slowly) that God was not going to let me off the hook in terms of working with young people and so I returned to university and studied for a Post Graduate Diploma in Youth Work and Community Development. I was in this role for 2 years before I moved to Surrey and took up a post as a Youth Leader in a small Methodist Church. As part of my role I began leading All Age Worship services and preaching. To my surprise this was something I found much joy in and felt it to be very rewarding.
After some time I began working at Surrey County Council with neighbourhoods in very high need of care. My primary focus was with the young people but the work extended into family and children’s work to support the most vulnerable of the community. In working with the young people, it became apparent to me that the love of God is what was fundamentally missing from their lives and that the behaviours they were displaying, the trouble they were getting themselves into was an attempt to fill that void of unconditional and unfailing love which sadly they had never experienced. I would pray for these families and worked hard to be the face of God in their lives.
A northern girl at heart, five years in South East of England was enough for me and I started looking and praying for an opportunity to return to Yorkshire. At Synod earlier this month, Stef and I were told that we are an answered prayer. I feel the same way about my new role. Just three weeks into post and I am so excited to be here and to be involved in the URC Yorkshire Synod. The young people that I have met so far are wonderful; keen to develop their faith and truly open to God working in their lives and those who I have met or visited have been so helpful and willing to support Stef and I in our work.
Outside of work I have varied interests. My favourite thing to do is exploring. I love visiting new places and experiencing what the world has to offer. This can be from walking along the Trans-Pennine trail on a winter’s day, to sitting on a beach in California, to climbing the Burj Kalifa in Dubai. My heart feels full during an adventure. I also enjoy sketching and painting, however I do not do this enough and I am embarrassed to admit that I am a fan of reading love stories and poetry. – Megan
Hi! My name’s Stef and, as Megan has already shared her age, I’ll share mine – I’m 35 years old!
Jesus is the centre of my life and I dedicate my personal and working life to introducing and nurturing people into knowing and understanding God’s love and presence in their lives, helping them to grow in faith and encouraging them to support others in their faith journey, helping those in need and seeking to challenge injustice wherever I find it. I surround what I do with prayer and trust in God to help me discern what a community or person needs and how best to respond to that need.
After originally studying performance arts and film studies at university, I followed a path into behaviour mentoring with inner-city secondary school students. This was when I realised that my passion for work was driven by the need to help young people, to support and guide them through times of struggle. Looking back now, I clearly see God placed me in that situation, equipping me with, and teaching me, the tools necessary for my work and instilling within me a deep-rooted belief that my current and future work would centre around youth and young people. I am extremely passionate about young people and believe that God has equipped their generation to be world changers and history makers. I believing in empowering young people to realise their potential and recognise that this comes through a relationship with God.
I have over 15 years’ experience in working with children and young people, building the churches’ ministries and missions in both. I worked as a Children and Young Persons’ Development Officer at the Trinity Youth and Children’s Project in North Ormesby, Middlesbrough. North Ormesby is in the bottom 5% of the poorest wards in the country; this obviously affects children and young people the hardest. TYCP provided a safe space for them to have fun, learn life skills and be introduced to, and experience, God’s love for his children.
After gaining my Masters in Youth and Community Studies, I then moved on to be the Youth Worker at Yarm Methodist Church. Here I had the amazing opportunity to start a youth project from the grassroots. This included setting up regular bible studies; taking children and young people on youth weekends; facilitating my youth group to set up a project that offered lunches during the school holidays to children who would normally receive free school meals; organising Battle of the Band events; working in local secondary and primary schools; running youth clubs, cycling clubs, Glee clubs… you get the idea! I also worked collaboratively across the area and across denominations, initiating a wider youth worker’s network group, bringing together workers from my local area. As a team, we developed a number of exciting projects, including Camp of Champions (Summer Camps), Café Churches, and Refresh Youth Services.
I was also privileged enough to take the young people from Yarm to Mexico to build houses with Amor ministries. Little did I know that this would lead to me going to work for Amor for a year as a Volunteer Coordinator, working in Mexico and living in San Diego! God is good!! There is so much I could share about this experience but I am running out of space! You will just have to ask me about it when I visit! It was an incredible experience to live and work in another culture, to experience community and church in different countries and to see how people love and serve God in their different contexts.
Finally, when I am not working I love to snowboard, spending time adventuring with my family, travelling, walking, I dabble in surfing (although this is much less appealing now I know longer live in California!) dancing, yoga and I have recently taken up golf! I love to listen to a good podcast too! – Stef