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Desmond Alban SSF

Desmond Alban SSF

Since writing about his day in Birmingham, Desmond Alban has moved to Alnmouth, a house with a rather different ministry but where the brothers are, amongst other work, still seeking to support young people.

Thursday morning and 6.25 am finds me walking up the road between our houses, breakfast out of the way. I’ve never minded living on a split site: I enjoy the short walk accompanied only by birdsong, a change from the children and teenagers I’ll be meeting in the road at other times of day, just as I also enjoy the silence of the chapel before Morning Prayer. It’s the calm before a rather busy day, but that’s OK too. On other days I may appreciate being flexible in my use of time, but on a Thursday it’s great to forget all about emails, deadlines and documents and spend the whole day with people!

So, straight after Mass, 8.30 am, it’s off to the primary school. I’ll probably spend some time working one to one with a child with literacy and behavioural needs, teach my own small numeracy group, and perhaps spend the afternoon in a “double act” in Science with the Year 6 (top year) teacher who values my background in secondary school science. At other times we might be painting, or playing rounders, or out in the nature area searching for mini-beasts! This being a Thursday though, I’ll leave before the end of the school day to be ready for Fun Club.

Four regular groups of teenagers come to our house in the evenings, but after school on a Thursday it’s a younger age group that get their turn. We need a female helper as a matter of policy, and a local Mum (a dinner lady at the school) is gold dust, especially when it comes to ideas for activities and games. We clear up quickly before Evening Prayer and the evening meal we eat together as brothers, but before we know it the evening group is upon us. The lads who come on Thursday are a little older than those on other nights; they come for twice as long (3 hours) but are much less effort to supervise! The pool table, PC and PlayStations are usually in use for much of the evening, but even this group still enjoy our semi-regular cookery activities and it’s Rice Crispy Cakes tonight!

Night Prayer usually follows, and we include a significant mention by name of “all who we have met and talked with today”, but today the “Greater Silence” won’t follow. Thursday night is the end of our working week and we enjoy unwinding together before finally getting some much needed sleep. It will probably be nearly midnight when I finally wander back down the road home, but with a lie-in on our weekly free day to look forward to!