The Trustees are pleased to present the Annual Report and Financial Statements for The Crusaders’ Union, operating as Urban Saints, for the year ended 31 December 2020.
Since 1906 The Crusaders’ Union, now operating as Urban Saints, has been reaching out to children and young people with the good news of Jesus Christ. We are passionate about working with children and young people, helping them to realise their full, God given potential, as they journey from childhood to adulthood.
Our impact in 2020
Every area of Urban Saints’ work with young people was impacted as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. This required us to consider how we could continue to engage with young people throughout, despite restrictions being in place.
During the first two months of 2020, four new Groups were being launched. From March onwards, volunteer leadership teams were coming together on Zoom, but no further Groups were able to launch due to lockdown. However, networks continued to be developed with local contacts, with discussions of potential new groups when the pandemic regulations would allow. Impact Team Leaders focused on providing additional support for existing Groups and leaders. Some Groups met via Zoom and others switched to doing doorstep conversations, phone calls or posting resources through letter boxes.
“It’s been hugely time-consuming running the online group and has cost a small fortune in chocolate and postage stamps! However, it is really worth it to keep in touch with the young people and their families and to have played a small part in supporting them through this most difficult time.”
Group leader, Urban Saints Group
Weekly online Groups have been a needed safe space for many young people, in the midst of otherwise isolating circumstances.
“They’ve really reached out to us. They didn’t make us feel cut off or anything. We really just felt included in the Urban Saints family. It could have been so easy for Camps and our Group to say, ‘Alright, we’re not doing anything’ but they put as much effort in they showed how much they care about us. It was something that was really nice to have even though we were missing out on everything else, Urban Saints was still there.”
Young person, Groups & Camps
The Impact Team Leaders also focused on ways to connect with young people who may not be connected elsewhere for support or encouragement. This was done by expanding our reach on social media, a key place that young people spent time in lockdown. We sought to make these platforms a more positive space for young people.
The Energize Team also produced additional resources for use in online meetings. Whilst the reach of Energize did not increase in 2020, the quality and impact for churches and groups using the resources has increased.
“You answered the phone when we first were trying to set up lockdown sessions online and the person was both helpful and encouraging. I have seen a lot of new material online for series including more lockdown-friendly resources to do with my church children’s group. I’m delighted our church subscribes to the Energize resource, it’s a lifeline.”
“I loved the camps. They made such a big effort to make it normal and over social media they did challenges – it was so funny!”
Young person, virtual Camp
We were able to run seventeen virtual Camps (nearly half our usual number of Camps) between Easter and December 2020. Most virtual Camps took place online – with one doing a mixture of virtual and some in-person in small groups when restrictions permitted. Some Camps provided boxes of resources for young people to engage with at home during sessions. There were games, crafts, activities, teaching sessions, small group discussions and worship, all the usual elements of a Camp, but online. These virtual Camps proved a valuable ‘stopgap’ to provide continuity in this season – for both young people and volunteer leaders.
“Camp-in-a-box came at a very needed time for our family. After lockdown, being back in work and juggling childcare, Camp-in-a- box was something for us all to look forward to. It was like a breath of fresh air.”
Parent, virtual camps
To sum it up, “It felt like we were on Camp”. There was the same camaraderie and pulling together as a team, stretching into areas we had never imagined going down before. We’ve had some marvellous feedback from the Campers and hope to come together on Zoom for a Camp reunion before meeting up again next summer.”
Additional Needs training
A core focus for the Additional Needs ministry in 2020 was to continue supporting children and young people during the pandemic, to grow both the range and the reach of what we offer. The additional needs ministry training moved to digital platforms and we participated in other conferences relating to working with children and young people with additional needs.
“Just wanted to say a big thank you for all your hard work in helping me feel 100% more equipped than I did before in leading our children and young people, and reaching out to other families in our community with additional needs and/or disabilities. All the videos, the handbook, the organisation, the breakout space to share ideas was really, really appreciated and makes all the difference when a workshop is so well thought through and organised.”
Participant re: ‘All Inclusive?’ training
Westbrook residential centre
Whilst Westbrook welcomed bookings in the first two months of 2020, the residential centre was unable to host further bookings throughout the year. Team members were however able to progress through planned works to upkeep the site and building.
All five Overseas Adventures due to take place in 2020 were cancelled due to the global pandemic.
This page is an extract taken from the Annual Report and Financial Statements for The Crusaders' Union - 31st December 2020.
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