Moving on, Moving out
Its with great sadness that I have a major personal announcement of the kind I don’t usually like to do on this blog. My time in York is drawing to a close, as I prepare to take up a role at Church Action on Poverty in Manchester on 3rd September. Barring a sudden offer of employment in York, I’ll be saying sad farewells at the end of August.
First, a little bit about how this came about. Having spent a year up to last Easter considering ordained ministry in the Church of England, I concluded it probably wasn’t for me – certainly not as a career option, not right now. Instead, I’m looking to start training for what is known as “Reader Ministry” at some point. Alongside this, my job at the Alzheimer’s Society ended last summer, and I’ve been looking for work ever since. Having stopped looking at ordained ministry, I was able to step back and admit to myself that York is an unlikely place to find work I will enjoy doing.
I applied for several internships, none of them either paid or York-based, at around Easter time. They were all essentially Campaigns Internships. To my amazement, I got offered two of them. Apparently this wasn’t a surprise to some people and I subsequently had to turn one of them down.
Church Action won for 2 reasons: it seems they’ll give me much tougher work experience, which will genuinely build on everything I can already do, and they’re campaigning on issues that are much closer to where I’ve been lately. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to return to international issues – we must never close our eyes to suffering in other countries just because poverty is on the rise in our neighbourhood. But for now, this feels like the right direction to be headed in.
Admittedly, there are various conflicts playing out in my mind. First, I’m going to be doing a job that’s focused on getting people to act in the interests of their local community. Leaving York to do this doesn’t make a stack of sense. The fact I’m invoking a stack of privilege for this to work. I’m also likely to be doing significantly less radical issues than I have previously. Its not that I feel like I’m turning traitor – and I still believe in the power and necessity of Direct Action to affect change. If anything, I’ve done better at reconciling this aspect than the whole “abandon your community to talk to people about commitment to their communities" thing.
It also raises a few practical issues: finding a room in Manchester for 6 months from September, finding a paid job at the end of that time, and the fact I’m potentially going to move twice in 6 months, making any friendships I start there potentially very cursory. In all likelihood, whatever I move onto after Manchester, it won’t be York. Any thoughts on the former or prayers on the latter would be welcome.
There will be a lot to hand over in York before I’m gone. I’m worried that several groups I’ve been involved in previously are going to need to find more people to take on things that I’m no longer here to do. There’s also some kind of leaving party to plan (it’ll probably just after August Bank Holiday), and all my regular stuff to clean up, let alone all the political materials littering the house.
York has been a big part of who I am, even if I’ve only been a small part of York. As a friend commented yesterday after yet another person randomly started talking to us in the streets, its going to be weird living somewhere where I’m unknown. 6 months in a place where no-one knows who I am could be an odd experience as well as a positive one.
What I do know is this: no matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve never quite managed to give as much to York as I’ve taken out. My parents left the city in 2009, by which time I had already moved out of ‘Home’. But I’ve had six ‘Homes’ in York, and really, the whole city feels like my Home. There’s an old piece of wisdom that says it takes a whole village to raise a kid, and even though I wasn’t born here, I’m proud to say this place has made me who I am. Even with my parents gone before me, this really does feel like I’m ‘moving out of Home’.
To everyone I leave behind in York, thank you, and remember: this place isn’t just a museum, its a living community. Look after each other and keep making it awesome.