CR spoke with him about Kidz Klub
Dave Sharples has been honoured on the Queen's birthday list in recognition of his 19 years of service to children and young people in Liverpool.
Working for Frontline Church in Liverpool, Dave started Kidz Klub in 1993, a modern day Sunday school that makes church accessible and relevant to inner city kids. Since the launch of Kidz Klub, Dave has made over 100,000 personal visits to kids at their homes, getting to know local families in the process and becoming well known in communities like Toxteth. Through running training weekends over the years, the Kidz Klub team in Liverpool have developed a network of clubs that has now spread to other towns and cities across the UK and beyond. Sarah J caught up with him to find out more.
Sarah: We need to give you big congratulations because this year you got onto the Queen's birthday list of recognition and got an MBE.
Dave: I know it's all very exciting isn't it?
Sarah: It's fab! What were you recognised for with the MBE?
Dave: It was for the work that I do with young people in Toxteth Liverpool.
Sarah: How long have you been working with young people in the Liverpool area?
Dave: About 19 years. I moved to Liverpool first in 1988, did a degree, but wasn't really sure what I wanted to do, moved into Toxteth in 1993 and that's what I've been doing ever since.
Sarah: What are the kinds of things you get up to with the kids on the estate?
Dave: I ran a project called 'Kidz Klub'. I did that for 17 years. Someone else runs that now, but it's basically an inner-city Sunday School. Sometimes we used to get as many as 500 kids to the Sunday School every week. It was mayhem, but there was a real order about it. I mean the whole project was just based on communicating God's love to kids and young people and helping them understand that they can decide to live their lives however they want, or they can live their lives for God. We gave them lots of opportunities to point them in the right direction and give them the opportunity to make good choices. It's been an amazing privilege to do the work that I've done over the years and I still work with the young lads of the estate in a project called 'Mighty Men' and a lot of the lads that are now in Mighty Men, they're in their late teens early twenties and I'm obviously involved with mentoring them and supporting them. It's been brilliant!
Sarah: I guess, because you've been at it for 19 years, you're having the pleasure of seeing kids that you worked with at a really young age coming through into their adult years and seeing the difference that their lives are having?
Dave: Yeah, it is fantastic. I know one lad that I'm working with called Eve; he doesn't know his dad. He came from a very difficult background and was always getting into fights at school and there were some quite serious incidents. I just took him under my wing and said, 'Come on son, do you want to join Mighty Men?' and he has been coming for four years. He was one of the naughtiest kids in his school; he was always getting into fights, but then over about a five year period, God changed his heart and he became this totally transformed character, not just taking someone's belief for himself, but actually starting to really care about other lads in the community and people around him. The school was just so amazed and impressed by his transformation, that when he left school in year 11, they said, 'Oh, why don't you apply for this job for the school?' which he did and he went to the interview and got the job and he now works for the school where he used to be a bit of a scally wag! But that's just one story. Eve even was awarded Young Person of the Year Award in Liverpool. To me that's the reward; if you like, my real award is the difference I've done with all the other volunteers that have helped me. That's the reward.
Sarah: I imagine seeing those kinds of changes in people's lives really makes it worth while when week in, week out you're putting in hard labour into the lives of people?
Dave: Yeah, because it hasn't always been easy. I mean, over the years I've made over 100,000 home visits in Toxteth visiting young kids and young people and I still do home visits. I was out yesterday, in the pouring rain. The best thing I do is actually just getting along side kids and young people in the community, visiting different homes and supporting the family. The real reward is when you see those lads making good choices; forgiving people when they've been hurt and not getting revenge on people when they could do. It's just helping young people to make positive, good choices and to live their lives for God.
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