Enabling all ages to grow in faith

My locked-down year

Dylan Heydon-Matterface has helped to organise online gatherings for Messy Church young leaders. Here he writes movingly about his experience of lockdown.

28 February 2021

Initially ecstatic!

The last year has undoubtedly been difficult for everyone, myself included. After the prime minister’s announcement in March 2020, my peers and I initially felt ecstatic to have the chance to potentially miss weeks of schooling with few ramifications. As everyone tried to get on top of how to teach and study online, I stayed positive, looking forward to the fact that ‘everything would be back to normal by Christmas’.

I’ll admit, right from the start, I had my doubts about whether this really was such a good thing, but I remained hopeful and kept looking forward.

Days into weeks, weeks into months

As days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, things definitely started to go downwards. It became increasingly obvious that the time missed from school would, in fact, impact on our futures, and a growing sense of unease emerged in us all. Our teachers started piling on the work more and more, and I became fed up with having to spend increasingly long hours at my desk, with a fog of uncertainty blotting out the final goal of exams.

‘The monotony really brought me down: wake up, get ready, spend most of the day in front of the computer, eat dinner, then back to sleep.’

It got hard at times, especially having to worry about whether or not our GCSEs would actually go ahead. The significance of the schools’ closure was becoming incredibly evident. The monotony really brought me down: wake up, get ready, spend most of the day in front of the computer, eat dinner, then back to sleep.

Messy Church young leaders

As we slowly started to trickle back into classrooms in September, things were finally starting to look up, at least for the time being. The daily routine that had become rooted deep within me finally changed somewhat, but it was still very regular and uninspiring, as so many pursuits remained unavailable.

So when the opportunity arose to get involved in the Messy Church young leaders group, I jumped at the chance to add something interesting to my weekly schedule. More than anything, it was an excuse to exercise my creativity that had been almost invisible over the preceding months. It brought a breath of fresh air into my otherwise stale mornings.

Thought-provoking discussions

Dedicating a short amount of time in the month to to dream up interesting crafts and activities was decidedly rewarding. Thought-provoking discussions encouraged me to think of new ways that I could rejuvenate my own life: each session left me motivated to not only put my creativity into action but also generally feel better about myself and to be more positive to those around me. The effort required to prepare all the necessary paraphernalia beforehand was more than justified by seeing people genuinely enjoying the activities we had organised. It was very fulfilling.

‘Each session left me motivated to not only put my creativity into action but also generally feel better about myself and to be more positive to those around me.’

Our Christmas session was especially memorable. I created a festive greetings card during the session, which I gave to my parents afterwards. It seems mundane, but in 2020, even the smallest things could cheer me up and give me the encouragement I needed to keep my head up, to keep looking towards the eventual end of the worrying and concern.

Above all, opportunities to express myself and carve my own path are what I’ve missed the most over the past twelve months, as the tedium of online academia eroded my enthusiasm. I’m massively grateful to my fellow Messy Church young leaders for the inspiration and motivation I needed in these trying times, and I look forward to many more successful online sessions.

Dylan Heydon-Matterface, 16, lives in Walsall. He enjoys studying foreign languages, coding small projects for his website, playing the clarinet and visiting interesting places around the country. He has so far visited over 1,000 railway stations in the UK!


Available 19 March
Edited by Lucy Moore, Messy Discipleship is an in-depth exploration of how Messy Church is addressing the discipleship question.

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The Messy Church website has many great ideas for Messy activities during lockdown.

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