Sarah Hounslow, from, well, near Hounslow, is the new Children’s Outreach Worker at St Paul’s. She and her young family have now moved to Camberley, and she has been busy planning special events like Who Let The Dads Out? and the Snow Ball for children in the area.
Sarah developed her career in children’s work at East to West, a Christian youth work charity based in Surrey and Berkshire, before starting out in her ministry. She hasn’t moved far. Sarah grew up and went to school in Sunbury, and has recently moved into Camberley to perform her now role. From our chat, it was clear that children’s work is more than a job to Sarah, it’s a real vocation. Sarah is married with 2 boys, Will and Alex, and husband Jason who works in London. So how does she fit the role around her busy family? Sarah said: "Because I love working with children so much, and enjoy children so much, the two fit together quite well".
As Children's Outreach Worker, she has spent most of her time in schools, giving assemblies and building relationships with the community. She also plans to start an after-school club. Her first assembly was on the theme of Acceptance. Delivering a life message in an innovative and meaningful way, she baked and decorated cup cakes, placing sprouts in the prettier cakes, to show that we shouldn’t judge be appearances, and that we should accept everyone for who they are. Sounds like a life lesson a lot of adults could learn from.
Sarah doesn’t stop with her work in schools. She’s also hit the ground running, with three outreach events for children since she started in September. The Glow Party is an alternative to Halloween, which this year delivered the message that God is bigger than anything we're scared of. Who let the Dads Out on Sat 25 November creates a special space for dad’s to spend time playing with their children, in a relaxed cafe style play area. The Snow Ball on 22 December is a winter wonderland experience. The look without all the father Christmas stuff, the Snow Ball is a party for 5-11 year olds to celebrate Jesus birthday – Christmas.
Christianity traditionally has the reputation of being boring, but Sarah’s role seems far from that. Sarah said "Not at all when you're involved in children's work!". She's right – I’ve visited Freezone, a youth club run by St Paul’s for young people, and the energy and activity is immense. I guess Sarah can take the pace though. Anyone that can jump over the edge of a viaduct and free-fall until the rope catches you, and swings you through the arch, has to have what it takes to work with young people. Sarah said "It was the scariest and most exhilarating thing I've ever done". That was until she came to St Paul’s!
Sarah takes her inspiration from 87 year old Conny, who is still running a children's group for 7-11's. Sarah said “She's a real inspiration, like my surrogate nan. She lived in south Africa and has many stories about God protecting her, and I believe God has done the same for me”. Of course life isn’t plain sailing, and when the going gets tough, Sarah has a way to cope. She says "my strategy has been I can't do this without you God. I've stopped in my path and prayed and said I'm giving this to you, because I know that I can't do it unless you're in it". A perfect day for Sarah is swimming with Will and Alex in the morning, and afternoon tea with friends, chilling, chatting and catching up.
You can contact Sarah Hounslow on 07789 995274 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hear the full interview with Sarah by clicking on the button below.