08 Jun An update…

It’s been a season of huge change and growth for us.
Sussex circus, near our former home, on a wintery morning,

It’s been a while since our last update… This is a long one as a result.

All the books (and my own conscience) remind me of the importance of regular correspondence with those who have supported you in your formative days. The weight and privilege of responsibility for your trust and faith in our vision has not been in any way absent during the last months.

When you’re setting out to do something as ambitious as we are, there are so many hurdles of learning. There are more failures, more heartbreak and so much more disappointment than I ever thought possible. There are also more political games, more subtle power plays and less honesty than I was prepared or equipped to encounter. And it’s hard to write about all of this when you feel like you’re getting nowhere, and people have placed their trust in you.

It’s so tempting — especially when sitting around the table the people you perceive as powerful — to join in the game. But, instead, we chose to remove ourselves from those places and situations. Over the last two years we’ve stepped away from the big projects and the big ideas, to work on building on the relationships we already had, with people we had grown to love and trust. My Curacy took us to Chaddesden. Derby, and to the Rev’d Beth Honey. My priestly training post was designed to be the thing I did while building Ruach, and it transpired as the place where Ruach would make the most difference in its first five years of existence.

Derwent is full of the demographic of people that The Ruach Trust was set up to serve. It’s in the most deprived 15% of the county

The bottom 21% for income deprivation, and 15% for employment. The worst 9% for health and 12% for education. Most shockingly of all, it is considered to be among the worst 5% in the country for the living environment of its residents. In hindsight, it’s no coincidence that Ruach should end up based here for four years, doing what it was designed to do but not in the way we planned – how often that is the way of things, and by my measure, the way of God.

Over that time we’ve met families and made friends. We joined and shaped an unorthodox and beautiful church community, that brought people around a kitchen table – the things Ruach has always had at its heart. We made friendships so deep and real that it feels crass to make those friendships and love of those families into statistics about Ruach’s success and influence. We’ve just been friends, neighbours, helping hands, tutors, CV writers, counsellors, coaches, encouragers, taxis, babysitters and homework helpers to those we grew to love, and we’ve seen so much change in families as a result of our resources of time and money because of YOUR incredible and generous support over the last few years. And would you believe it – most of our most significant changes in people have been seen in the young men of the families we’ve known.

We enter a season of change now. As some of you will know, I’ve taken a job with St Martin’s Episcopal Church, in Houston, Texas, where I’ve been offered a 2-year contract. On the 16th March, I laid down my role as CEO of Ruach, and stepped into the role as the new Chair of Trustees. There’s a new freedom in this – freedom to shape our future with the community, rather than hold the responsibility for delivering it, and I’m excited to build on the work of the Chairmen and women before me.

As we began withdrawing from some more high status projects we’d been pursuing, and while I investigated a paid(!) job overseas, inspiration struck our Treasurer, Chris. He realised the best place we could possibly be was where we already were, building on our foundations of four years, working with the people God had unexpectedly placed right around us!

So today we write to let you know that out of these years of friendship and relationship, we find, underneath our noses, our project partners: People who love Derby, and love our area of Chaddesden. There is potential for listed buildings, and restoration, and transformation. But more on this in the coming weeks. Needless to say, it’s hugely exciting but also small enough for us to have confidence that with our newfound partners we can deliver. We so look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks ahead.

Friends – thank you for all your support over the last five years. You took Ruach from dream to reality. You stuck with us when we couldn’t see the way forward for a bit, and we’re so excited and privileged to share the next step with you.

With immense gratitude,


Jane Plackett-Ferguson, Former CEO, The Ruach Trust

Sunset in Chaddesden.

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01 Sep Prison Ministry

Over the summer Jane started her new ministry in prison. Not as an offender, I hasten to add, but as a chaplain. This new experience has broken our hearts for those on the margins, those at risk of offending, and those trying to not re-offend. Due to the nature of the stories, and the vulnerability of those involved, we have made a conscious decision to not share them, but they’re consistently stories of abuse; marginalisation; disappointment; ruined dreams; of one poor choice starting a roller coaster of terrible ones; undiagnosed mental health problems; or uncaring parents. It’s been both terrifying and humbling to have these young men open up and share a little of their lives.


As we’re not sharing specifics, I’ve looked to qualify our personal experience with some research. Just as I’ve started to investigate our gut feelings, I’ve spent some time looking at the figures from the Prison Reform Trust, and some of them are truly staggering. For instance, in 2015, suicide rates among those in the general population were 10.8 per 100,000 people;  contrast that with those in prison of 120 per 100,000. Thus you are 11 times more likely to have a self-inflicted death in prison. This is the statistic that brings tears to my eyes, and makes me the most frustrated at some of the systems in place in our country where we consistently fail our most vulnerable young peopleEmpty prison cell.


With recent social media profiling the 22 push up challenge, we wanted to understand the UK system and statistics for a little comparison. For those unfamiliar with the challenge, you are nominated to do 22 push ups for 22 days, in honour of 22 veterans dieing from suicide each day [in the US, in the UK the figure is lower, but still too high]. To give some context for the prisons, 290 people died in 12 months over 2015/2016, over a third of those being from suicide, which equates to nearly 2 people a week. 


The other statistics that speak to me are to do with young people in prison. Only 1% of all children in England are in care,  but they make up over half (52%) of children in secure training centres and almost two-fifths (38%) of children in young offender institutions. If we add those figures with the likes of 68% of under 18s are re-convicted within a year of release, and the higher suicide rates, you very quickly start to build a picture of how many people that start out in care, end up dead in prison.


When we think about Ruach, and think about those we are appealing to through our work, hearing that 42% of prisoners had been expelled or permanently excluded from school, we see how vital we are. We see that they just need that one person to step in, to care, and to help them break the downward spiral they find themselves on. Although we aren’t quite in that position yet, the ministry that we are currently doing is proving invaluable to our future. If nothing else, for relighting our hearts and rekindling the passion that has been slowly ebbing away.


I leave you with one final statistic, to highlight that even if you don’t believe in restorative justice, even if you don’t believe in helping people change their lives around, you might just believe in saving money. Re-offending by all recent ex-prisoners costs the economy between £9.5 and £13 billion annually. YOI Swinfen Hall costs £37,398 per year per prisoner, excluding education and health care, whereas we estimate an apprenticeship scheme through us would cost between £15,000 and £18,000, saving nearly £20,000 from the public purse. 



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21 Jul Wrestling with the Failures

You may well be aware by now that we (Ruach) haven’t quite found our feet yet. There have been (and are still) some great plans, but alas they have not come to fruition; and that is hard. Mentally, physically, and spiritually. We put more than just our thoughts and our time into each tender application, and each new proposal; you would be very justified in saying that each time we come up with a new idea, we put a little bit of ourselves into it.


When you have put a little bit of yourself into quite a few projects, when you pause to take stock of where you are, you come to realise that you aren’t quite as full as you were before. You don’t have quite as much energy, you stop yourself from becoming fully invested, because you get to a stage where you have nothing left to invest. This is the stage we are approaching. This is the stage we really don’t want to be in. We want to be able to get excited, we want to be able to  give ourselves fully, and we want to commit with our minds as we push into this new opportunity.


The real question is “how?”. How do we make sure we keep on track, how do we keep pushing into the greater things still to come, how do we invest without falling apart if it doesn’t work? At this moment in time, I don’t think Jane or myself have these answers – if you have any insight please do share it with us! All we can say from our experience is the knowledge that if we stay faithful to God, He will stay faithful to us.


To those of you who are in a similar place to us, or are thinking about starting something similar, we would like to encourage you to keep going, to keep pushing, and to keep investing. In 10 years time will you be looking back and thinking about the failures you had, or will you look back and see the one thing that ‘stuck’ and took off, and is now your biggest success story? I have an inkling it’s the latter, and in no way am I saying that those failures won’t hurt, and they won’t make you take some time out to rebuild who you are, but without the failures we often don’t have the success: success often comes through trial and error.


In the words of someone who is soon to be everyone’s favourite Blue Tang fish, just keep swimming.



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07 Jul A year with the Ruach Trust…

Editors note: This post comes to you from our lovely Chairman of Trustees, Dave!


As you have probably guessed from the title, it has been a year since I joined the Ruach Trust as a Trustee; and what a year it’s been! I’ve met some incredible people and been truly humbled by their selfless support of Ruach’s vision.


The past 12 months has been an opportunity for us to explore the vision and values of the charity and identify meaningful ways to make them a reality. Having spent time reviewing a number of projects that we are not yet ready (or in a position) to launch we’ve seen that we can be a voice in the community whilst we grow and gain experience. We believe that Jane’s involvement in a number of local projects, such as the Mill Street School Project, is an application of our objectives because we recognise the benefits to young people that will be created should those projects be a success.


Here the Ruach Trust are adding real value to community projects, cultivating relationships with future partners and sharing our vision wherever we go. Our vision day this coming Saturday, will be an opportunity to celebrate the past year and dream for the future of the Ruach Trust, but more importantly the future for young people in our communities. Please contact Shannon for more details if you’d like to come or get involved in some way.


With uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum outcome, I believe the need for organisations such as the Ruach Trust in supporting young people through training and development opportunities will only increase. If we remain on our current path we will be well placed to meet that need head on and with open arms.


A year with the Ruach Trust is not just my reflections but an offer to young people to join us on a journey from training, through community, to family. We don’t know what this looks like yet but we know it starts with our first apprentice who should be joining the team in the coming months.


We are excited about what God has planned for us and I ask that you stand with us in prayer and if you are able, please would you consider supporting our new apprenticeship scheme through the link on our website.


Finally, a huge thank you to all who make the Ruach Trust what it is. Our supporters, our Trustees, Shannon and Jane – We have become so much more than colleagues, we have become family; and that is at the heart of what we have been called to do.




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10 Jun Vision Day, 9th July

As you can tell from Jane’s post, we love kitchen tables – we love them the most when they are full of food and surrounded by friends! On the 9th of July we are planning to borrow a large table in Derby (well, we are planning on getting a few tables and putting them end to end, great hall style). We have invited some of our friends, family, and colleagues already to gather with us for a time of celebration, dreaming, and vision catching. If you would like to join us on this day then do get in touch, there’s always room for more!


We will be celebrating being together, the summer, and how far we have come in the last year (even though it feels like the last year has consisted of many set backs!). We will be dreaming the “what next?”, we have some ideas of where we are going, but we really value the input of others, and we are hoping that coming from the day will be more than dreams for Ruach, but that those that come will leave with a renewed vision for their own line of work as well.


We know that we are back to exploring farming apprenticeships, with the focus on the young person rather than the product they would produce. We are committed – in whichever apprenticeship we offer – to creating whole people; if this is something you can get behind, or already have experience in then we would especially love it for you to be here on the 9th.


If you would love to come, but fear it may be too far to travel in one day then fear not! Our lovely hosts have offered us some accommodation for the Friday and the Saturday night; you would be more than welcome to turn it into an entire weekend event! Of course you would also be welcome to make use of the bed space for only one of the nights!


Do let us know if you would like to come, we would love for you to be here! Email: hello@theruachtrust.co.uk or check out our contact us page for other ways to get in touch.



ps – if enough people say they would like to come, we might be able to source a bouncy castle for it….

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09 Jun My favourite things…

My table

I love kitchen tables…


I know that sounds like a strange thing to say, but it’s true.


Recently a friend asked me ‘“What’s your favourite possession”. Without hesitation, my answer was ‘my kitchen table’!


It’s not because it’s particularly valuable. It’s not even particularly pretty. But, I bought it when I got my first pay-rise in my first ‘grown up’ job because I wanted to be able to host people for supper comfortably!  I love that stories, milestones, meals and work all happen here. That hope, disappointment and despair is shared around this simple piece of wood.


This table has seen many of my favourite memories: It’s seen dinner parties in Watford with some of my favourite friends and colleagues; it’s seen mentoring sessions; it’s been my desk at college; it’s hosted breakfast parties; it’s hosted meetings; it’s seen gravy, PVA glue, wrapping paper, numerous letters, tears, flowers, the occasional bit of blood; it’s been the place where I’ve had some of the most significant conversations of my life.


After we pulled out of pursuing a future at Highfields farm last year, I sat at this table and asked God – “What do I have in my hands, that I can give you to help make this happen?” and the response came – “Your time and your table”.


So for the past 10 months I have been exploring what my time looks like, and how best to use my table.


A while back we mentioned that we were working on some things that we would finally be able to tell you about… I sit on the Elvaston Development Board, this is an unpaid post where we grapple with how best to use the estate, we still dream of doing much more there, but we know we need to be patient while the right opportunity works it’s way out. I’ve also been invited to sit on the board for Mill Street, a wonderful Victorian old school house in Derby, owned now by the diocesan board of Education, the development plans are in the very early days but I hope to be the voice of the young people we hope to impact. Unfortunately there are still 2 local opportunities that we can’t yet share with you at the moment, as they are still in the negotiation stages, but as and when things progress I can’t wait to share that


Under the guise of Ruach, I am also getting involved in prison chaplaincy at the local Young Offenders Institute (YOI) as part of my Ruach role, as well as a local ‘fresh expression’ and parish church as part of my Church of England curacy, all of which deepens my connections locally, and helps me feel increasingly rooted in Derbyshire.


Most excitingly, the trustees decided that we’d love to have an apprentice involved in our scoping work. Since Shannon and I have started devoting two office days per week for our scoping work, we realised we’d love to work with and mentor a young person for this. I suddenly realised I am no stranger to running office apprenticeships after my time at Soul Survivor, and this feels like the natural next step. We’ll finally be meeting our charitable objectives more directly, and getting a young person to help shape our work, meaning that, with their input, we’ll be delivering something with more integrity too. And I finally get to use my kitchen table to mentor, putting my table at the very heart of what I am doing.


So here’s to the future, to adventures, and to many more stories shared around the kitchen table.


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24 Mar End of Year Accounts 2015

We pride ourselves in being open and honest about all aspects of our work, a key part of that is in our accounts.

If you click here -> June 2015 End of Year accounts <- you will see our end of year accounts for 2014/2015. Our ‘year’ starts in June, so these our are most up-to-date accounts that are complete. If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email: hello@theruachtrust.co.uk

I hope you find this as interesting as numbers can be (which will vary depending on your love or hate of numbers! I love them…)



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10 Mar The tides are changing, but the sea remains the same.


“The tides are changing, but the sea remains the same.”


This is a sentiment that has stuck with me for the last few months. I personally have been through a lot of change, and everywhere I work also seems to be undergoing change! My name is Shannon, and I am the new part-time administrator for The Ruach Trust.


I’ve just moved to the Midlands from the sunny and warm Isle of Wight (on the south coast), I would be lying if I said I wasn’t missing the sea. I have spent the previous 18 months working for Urban Saints Westbrook – a Christian residential centre – as the activities co-ordinator. Going from setting up activities, to doing administration, has been a surprisingly smooth transition.


When I’m not working with the wonderful CEO, Jane, I am found working for Youth-180, an associated ministry of Youth For Christ. With them I work as a mentor in a local secondary school, and run the youth work at a local church. In my spare time I will often be found in the surrounding country side, either getting lost, or helping find other people who are lost with Warwickshire Search and Rescue.


The transition from teenager to ‘adult’ for me was the hardest time of my life; not because of hormones, or transitioning to being independent, but because so much change was going on behind the scenes, including the life-changing decision of becoming a Christian. If it were not for a few really key people in my life at the time, I know I would not be the person I am today. My passion and drive for what I do now stems from that place, from the desire of either being, or enabling others to be the person that helps young people through that transitional time, often with a lot of other things going on behind the scenes. As a very brief snapshot, four of the young people I mentor were referred for anger issues; one is about to find out if her brother is in remission from cancer; one was kidnapped; one has ADHD; and the final one has grown up surrounded by social workers in a very complicated situation. They all need someone to help them through this time, to give them the skills to cope when they move on, but many of the problems won’t stop when they reach 16. So many of the opportunities young people have to get help appear to disappear at either 16 or 18, my desire is to see them having places to go, projects to get involved in, past that age. people that can still look out for them.


As I said at the beginning of this post, tides are changing, but the sea remains the same, this is true for Ruach as well. As the chapter at Highfields farm has closed, we are seeing new possibilities open up, to the bystander this may look like us rushing from one thing to another, but the truth is we are in the process of pushing the doors, and seeing which ones lead where God wants us. We are in a season of change, and just like the tide, it feels like not a lot is happening at the moment, but when we look back in a month or two, we hope to be in a position to see how the tide is now high, having made gradual changes, culminating in a big difference. As I am sure you are aware, almost any change comes with an increased need for that one topic that is most key, and least spoken about – money.

We are partnering with as many people as we can to make our progress happen with a large community around us, but there are always going to be things a partnership cannot provide, at this moment we are at a stage where we don’t know what we will be needing, however in the coming months we will certainly be asking for donations as we start a new adventure, in a new location. As the phrase goes; every little helps. Do please start thinking (and praying, if that’s your thing) about whether you are in a position to give practically or financially, however large or small that may be. If every person who read this committed to donating £10 a month each, the amount would soon add up!


Until next time (which won’t be from myself, it will be from Dave, but you understand the sentiment),


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10 Mar Guest Blogs…

As we start some new adventures, over the next few months we’ll be uploading blogs from various members of the team telling you how they encountered the work of The Ruach Trust, what excites them, and sharing their perspective on our latest adventures!

We hope you enjoy their thoughts!


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For the last twelve months, The Ruach Trust have explored the possibility of developing our first apprenticeship programme at Highfields Farm, home of Highfields Happy Hens. This week, the decision was made, very regretfully, to stop exploring that possibility with Roger and Beryl Hoskings.


While no figure could adequately reflect the passionate investment of Roger and Beryl into the community for thirty years, for the last twelve months we have been working on a financial solution to work at Highfields that would allow for Roger and Beryl to be supported into their retirement. Unfortunately, after a year of planning and preparation, detailed financial modelling, and after protracted discussions with lenders and investors, we find that we are unable to raise sufficient funds to make a financial offer to Roger and Beryl that we would be comfortable with offering, and that would allow the Trust to achieve its objectives at the farm.


So with great reluctance we are no longer pursuing a future at Highfields Farm.


It is a sad day for the Trust, and for Roger and Beryl too, but we look forward in hope. We wish Roger, Beryl and their staff every success with their future and their remarkable ministry, while we look forward too, knowing that we are called to this local area, but not quite knowing how. God has greatly blessed our journey here so far, and remains with now. At the moment we feel a huge sense of disappointment (and some frustration!), but as one of our trustees reminds us during the week: the cross looked like the most magnificent failure, but in reality was an enormous victory. And so we go on trusting that this year of investment will be used by God as part of our ongoing story.


Our call to Derbyshire and to its young people is as strong as ever, and we continue our work here building relationship with local schools and providers, and exploring potential partnerships. Jane continues her work with the Church and with the Elvaston Castle Development Board, and we look for opportunities to build on this in new ways over the coming months.


We’re so thankful that you have stood alongside us on the journey so far, and please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

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