Being the Change: Student leadership conference

Described by students as inspirational the inaugural Diocese of Brentwood student leadership conference took place at De La Salle School on 12th July 2023.

Bishop Alan Williams sm began the conference by addressing a group of 60 student leaders from 16 diocesan schools on the subject of leadership. The students were thoroughly engaged throughout, with some avidly making notes. They were then given the opportunity to ask questions, these proved to be incredibly insightful as they ranged across a broad spectrum of leadership issues and thinking, as well as questioning Bishop Alan about the role of a bishop.

The students were then commissioned as leaders in the schools.

Siân Thomas-Cullinan, Director of Caritas Brentwood then led a series of sessions based on the Papal document Laudato Sí, with the support of members from the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service. The students focused on the practical responsibility of care for our common home, including what could be done in terms of leaving a legacy to future students, by using the ‘Let Us Dream’ task from Journey to 2030.

Their ideas and feedback demonstrated thought, creativity and vision proving that they have insight into the problems and a range of solutions that were both practical and feasible. It was marvellous to see the engagement of all the young people and their support for each other while presenting.

De La Salle School Basildon provided an exceptional level of hospitality and welcome, with their student leaders greeting and accompanying the visitors. Breaks and lunch provided an opportunity for the students to talk to one another encouraged by Fr Dominic Howarth, who set a series of challenges to engage with other schools and network.

The students then had the opportunity to hear about opportunities from BCYS and the latest CAFOD campaigns and opportunities to write to their local MPs – giving students ways of making a difference locally, nationally and globally.

The day could be summed up as necessary, joyful, hopeful and motivating.