Tim Adams asks Director of The Riverbank Trust, Ellie Hughes what she’s passionate about and why she’s climbing Mt Kilimanjaro for Youth for Christ…
Where do you live?
I’ve lived in South West London for almost 10 years. I moved here thinking it’d just be for a few years but it’s become home and I love it. However, I’m a northerner at heart. I grew up in Derbyshire so ‘technically’ I’m a midlander but I’ve learnt that means very little to anyone born south of Watford!
How did you become a Christian?
It’s a long story but the short version is the tale of the prodigal. I spent most of my late teens and early twenties looking for ways to love and be loved. By my mid-twenties I was deeply unhappy and discontented. One Sunday night, I found myself in a local church in Richmond. It was a gradual process but relentless grace and acceptance from that church community reflected the love of Jesus to me. On an alpha weekend away, I gave my life to Him and received a salvation that set me free and changed everything forever.
What are you passionate about?
Seeing the church wrap herself around the poor, vulnerable and marginalised and tell people about Jesus. The gospel really is good news to fractured and broken families and I’m passionate about finding ways to communicate that. I believe that the church is not fully functioning or thriving if she is not reaching out to the orphan, the widow, the outcast, the poor. I’m also passionate about eating good food with my friends, whilst listening to good music.
You used to be a children’s social worker. What was that like?
Never dull! I loved my job and the amazing child protection team I was part of for just under two years. There were some very difficult and sad parts to the work but it was a huge privilege to meet and walk with children and families in their point of crisis. I remain fiercely defensive of social workers; they perform a vital role in often impossible circumstances due to financial and time constraints.
Why did you set up Riverbank Trust in 2010?
Riverbank was birthed to minister the gospel and the passionate love of Jesus to some of the most vulnerable families in our community through real relationship. We support families intensively for the long-term. Rather than ‘clients’, they are our friends and we are honoured to call them such. Our heart is to equip the local church to reach out to those deeply in need of community and family and to tell those that we support about the love of Jesus for them.
Why are you doing The Climb?
Last November I attended the Youth for Christ annual fundraiser. I was captivated and moved by stories of transformation and the vision to reach one million young people with the gospel in Britain in the next 3 years. That’s an exciting thing to want to be part of and get behind! I love an adventure and stretching myself. As a friend recently said to me: “Who looks back at the end of their life and says, ‘I really wish I hadn’t climbed that mountain?’!” But it’s a way to be involved in a mission that I increasingly feel my heart being stirred for. Plus, it felt like a very fun and interesting way to stand alongside this amazing team and cheer them on.
Would you describe yourself an adrenaline junkie?
Adventurous? Yes. Adrenaline junkie? No. I once did a high-wire and ropes climbing activity for a friend’s 30th birthday party and nearly cried the whole way round.
What are you most looking forward to/worried about on the trek?
I’m not going to lie. The whole toilet situation (or lack thereof) is not something I’m looking forward to. Nor am I thrilled at the prospect of blisters and potentially vomiting my way up a mountain due to altitude sickness. However, I’m excited about getting to know this intrepid group of adventurers. I also really enjoy hiking, camping and being outdoors and this is one of those things I’ve always wanted to do. I’m assuming the view from the top of a mountain is pretty good too.
What do you hope The Climb will achieve?
I hope we raise shed loads of money for Youth for Christ. I want to see the ministry reaching one million young people. As a result of this ridiculous venture, I’ll be praying that this generation of teenagers are filled to overflowing with the love and compassion of Jesus and go on to live radical lives of grace and service that completely transform our communities, our nation and our world. Well…that and that I make it down again in one piece!