School: Best days of your life?

13th Mar 2023

I heard this statement a lot growing up and, if I am honest, it is probably a statement I thought myself from time to time without really thinking it through. For many this may be their experience but for others it may not come close to the truth.


A recent study showed that 76% of young people experienced loneliness in the post-pandemic world. Speaking with a teacher recently she is seeing an upward trend in young people becoming overwhelmed, unable to process properly leading to issues such as self-harm as well as being socially isolated. Many of these young people have disengaged with, or have never been a part of, a regular Christian community. The volunteers and team go, alongside Jesus, to their schools, bringing light, from the youngest to the oldest.

In two High Schools in Northern Ireland there was concern about the needs of young people in their care and they looked for ways they could partner with Urban Saints to make a difference. A group of volunteers has established Urban Saints Groups in these schools which provide weekly sports-based sessions. Sports are a great connection point and a wonderful way to build strong relationships. 

Speaking with a teacher in one of the schools, she said – “It’s hard to put a value on a group that addresses our kids’ physical and mental health - it’s invaluable. It provides a form of respite for pupils during a tough year and allows the children to be catered for in ways a teacher cannot. It’s pastorally led, helping pupils cope with everyday issues that a teenager faces, let alone the issues of which we are unaware. This safe space allows pupils to vent and have fun with peers who aren’t in their class.”

Pray for more connections with schools and teachers who see the value in safe spaces within the school setting.

One of the highlights and joys is the chats and conversations we have over lunch which we provide as part of the Group. This is such a valuable time to hear the joys, celebrations, challenges, and fears young people are living with. Our programme is led and guided by the young people, and we look to work through with them the questions they are currently carrying about life and faith. We have had sessions exploring together purpose, identity, school pressure, and why life can be so hard. 

Pray that as we journey with these questions, the young people have an opportunity to encounter the life and hope that Jesus offers.

Paul, one of our volunteers in Northern Ireland, has been going into school regularly and feels called to be a father figure. He says:

‘I feel called to the youth of today. To mentor them, to show them there is another way. To reach the lost and to show love and to be a father figure to the fatherless. This is the time when young people need to see hope. Hope that is visible and kindness that is authentic. The call to be a Sports Coach to reach the lost in this season, is to be the church out in the schools and community.’

Urban Saints is an organisation that wants to engage with young people, the vast majority of whom have disengaged with, or never been near, church. Therefore, we must go to their places and spaces bringing the person, presence and good news of Jesus with us. These school groups are one way of providing that connection.

Pray for more volunteers like Paul to come and join us as we seek to explore expanding into other schools across the regions creating safe spaces helping young people thrive and flourish. 

It is our hope and prayer that young people may say that school days were some of the best days!

Wilson Beare
Impact Team Leader, Ireland, and Missions Support