Isolation is a lonely place to find ourselves. Loneliness will be experienced in different ways in this present season. Some people are completely alone with no human company, day in and day out, and this can be painful. Others have people at home, but this may be a fractured environment, which can bring fear. Others miss the option to choose to go out to meet with people; leaving them frustrated, or have anxiety over the absence of usual routine.
Now imagine being a child or teenager and managing all of these emotions. Without lockdown you would already be managing all the challenges that can come with growing up – hormones, friendship changes, family relationships, educational engagement; but now you also find yourself caught up in a global pandemic which alters every part of your life, for an as yet unknown length of time.
The anxiety, fear and frustration that young people will experience, both in isolation and beyond, is the reason that we are doing all we can to help our Volunteers to continue to engage with young people, and to provide moments of hope for young people.
Normally, the Urban Saints Impact Team Leaders would be following up leads for new Groups, recruiting and training leaders and supporting them as they begin to work with local young people. They would also be involved in planning SPREEs (all now cancelled) and Camps (some still planning).
Life may look different, but the mission of Urban Saints goes on. We have now an interim strategy which has three aspects:
- Mission Goes Online
- Energize at Home
- Mobilising Prayer Up and Down the UK and Ireland
The Impact Team Leaders have refocussed their energy to develop some of the 'Mission Goes Online' part of our interim strategy which includes:
"CONNECTED" (resources for use with young people in Energize Plus and new Urban Saints Groups)
Half of the team are generating materials for use by Group Leaders as they deliver online (Zoom) youth group meetings every week:
- Pick n Mix group session - games, activities, discussion starters, Bible study and prayer ideas
- Parents Takeaway - to help them build on the week's session with their kids
- A video 'reflection' for young people on the Urban Saints Facebook page
- A challenge to complete - also available on Facebook
Many Leaders are continuing to meet with and support young people each week in this way, and the resources have been shared much wider than just our Urban Saints' Groups.
"The resources have been a great help. We were initially devising our own material, but now will use the material you send out. It's just enough for a Zoom session but allows for questions in between and I love the idea of parents being linked in too."
We are also making a resource called 'Kids Club by Post' available to groups and exploring the possibility of a 'virtual' camps programme too. A number of our newest formed Groups are continuing their training via Zoom so that they are ready to launch as soon as lockdown ends.
Don't forget, there are also thousands of activities available to groups (and now parents and carers too!) on Energize - including the new 'Energize At Home' series which has been specially adapted for parents and carers to use with their kids at home...
UNCONNECTED (sharing hope-filled messages accessible for all young people)
The other half of the team are generating a very creative set of social media based resources designed to reach and encourage young people across the UK and Ireland who do not have contact with, or support from, a youth group. These resources include ideas for activities to do at home, motivational images, inspiring and challenging video clips and even memes.
Through social media, we are starting to see people sharing these encouragements on their own social media platforms, which - just like a stone hitting the water - creates a ripple effect and connects us with people who are unknown to us currently. Every message shared is a seed for God to water, and we have no understanding of the incredible significance reading a motivational quote or watching a thought for the day could have on the life of someone struggling.
"Just wanted to say how great the stuff on Facebook is I’ve seen this week… I really like the video clips. Such a brilliant idea and really encouraging to read something so positive."
We are praying that these resources and materials provide our wonderful Urban Saints Volunteers with the opportunity to see young people’s discipleship journeys start and continue during a time of isolation, as well as considering how to support Groups and Volunteers that are unable to go online.
Follow Urban Saints on social media to see the latest resources for yourself: