I’m spending a couple of days between Christmas and New Year clearing out the office – its become a bit of a habit of mine, giving me a chance to sort through the accumulation of ‘stuff’ from the previous 12 months, and offer a fresher, cleaner environment for when the rest of the team return in the new year.

The process can throw up some amazing memories and surprises. I’ve just come across a folder stuffed with previous newsletters. This is quite timely as 2016 is the 25th Anniversary of The Door, and we’re going to spend quite a bit of time over the next few months reminiscing about the past. I’ve been struck by how some things never seem to change, whilst others have moved on considerably. I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve found. Sadly the earliest newsletter I’ve got is from September 1998, and the last one is from 2009, so not quite the full 25 years!

1998 – There’s a reference to the unity of NASA and Russia building a space station – yes the one that Tim Peake has just joined! This reminded us that we need to be unified with the Church across the area, a desire we retain in 2016.

1999 – The Door was recruiting for sessional youthworkers, as we are again now, but this time in Dursley & Cam. The big fear was the Millennium Bug and the effect technology was having on day to day life – if they’d only known then how things would develop!

2000 – Technology continues to influence, as in May The Door starts to develop a website! Founding member of The Door team Andy Morris moved on, and work within local schools continues to develop. We have some exciting plans for 2016 to continue to develop schools work across secondary and primary schools in the district.

2001 – an intrepid team climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for The Door. Not sure if that will feature in 2016, but fundraising activities are still a necessary must for us. There was also a big appeal for volunteers to help in the ‘Coffee Bar’ – I’ve been amazed reading these newsletters how many volunteer youthworkers the local churches used to provide, and I wonder where they’ve all gone?

2002 – 26 Gloucester Street was purchased following some impressive donations – many people still think we’re based there, and others don’t realise that we still own the building currently housing Fat Toni’s Pizzeria. Its basically our financial nest-egg. The year also saw the launch of the Undiscovered Youth Talent Competition which went on to run until 2014 and launched the careers of Nathan Sykes, Kieran Powell, Harry Jones, and our Patron Mary-Jess Leaverland

2003 – the original Tranzform shop opened in August selling Fairtrade, homemade and second hand goods. Our shop now is a vital resource for the community, and raises much needed funds for the charity. Teens In Crisis took over our counselling service, and we continue to refer young people to them – in 2016 we’re hoping to develop a stronger partnership with them.

2004 – The team went on a mission to visit local churches and talk about The Door. We’re on that same mission in 2016 – with 3 church visits already booked in. Could your church be the 4th? The year also saw Leo Versaci take up his first paid role with us, sadly we lost Leo in 2015 but he will always be in our memories

2005 – Government funding meant major changes to our training department, and in 2015 we formally closed the doors on this part of our work – although we continue to offer young people volunteering opportunities and training through placements and apprenticeships.

2006 – Light at The Door mentoring launched, and continues to provide young people with a positive adult role model 10 years later.

2007 – a successful street collection led to the desire to run these more regularly, and we now do these at least twice a year raising over £1000 in much needed income.

2008 – the national Christian Hope initiative took centre stage with Club Hope music events running throughout the year. The year also saw the start of recruiting a ‘Deputy Project Co-ordinator’ to “Come in behind [Brendan], pick up the ropes and who knows, eventually even take over.” I wonder what ever happened to that recruit!?!

2009 – Our current logo was launched, and the ‘little lying down youth’ still divides opinion! Each newsletter also contains a ‘case study’ about a young person we’re working with – six years on these stories are still the bedrock of how we communicate to you.

So 12 years of The Door – about half of our lifetime. One thing which runs like a ‘Golden Thread’ throughout all of these newsletters is the hand of God through the life and work of The Door. I am reminded again that this is His work, and we are stewards of it. As I start to look forward to 2016, I wonder what He has in store for us in the coming 12 months. Will you Stand Up and Be Counted with us this year as we celebrate 25 years and Counting?

25 years, and Counting