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 2022.
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 2022
From its beginning, Urban Saints has been about accompanying young people on their faith journey with Jesus whatever their starting point. Our DNA, from the beginning, has been about local leaders connecting with local young people. We have emerged from the pandemic with a fresh hunger to see young people connected through our Groups and Camps because we know that community Is necessary for mental and spiritual health. We are committed to creating safe spaces to explore life and faith, together for the long haul. At Urban Saints we know that lifelong faith is a journey, and we are committed to young people, whatever their starting point and wherever the faith journey takes them
At present, we have 76 Groups of various sizes meeting across the UK, including two online. Since the pandemic we have had increasing opportunity to provide safe spaces in schools. One of these Groups started in Ripon and by the end of 2022 had over 100 young people attending on a weekly basis. To help facilitate our work in schools we have purchased a number of Spider Domes. These large, inflatable gazebos are printed in colour with culturally relevant design and questions. They provide a visual sign of our presence, a sense of identity and a safe space that is distinctly different from a classroom.
We are now seeing a greater connection between Groups, with part of our focus being supporting networks of Groups to form and coordinate activities together as we move away from the pandemic. In 2022 one cluster of groups launched a monthly youth worship event where young people are empowered to take the lead, plan the evening and disciple their peers. While the adults are present for support the driving force behind the event is the young people themselves.
Youth empowerment has been a significant focus for Urban Saints in 2022. It is the process of involving children and young people in the decision making process of their local communities. This helps them understand that they are respected, that they are valuable and presents a meaningful avenue through which they can make their voices heard and recognize their power.
“This year all our group moved further along their faith journey with two commitments being made for the first time.”
- Group Leader
From creating sessions on identity and justice, to providing resources to help young people engage with major national and international stories, such as the war in Ukraine and the Queen’s death – Energize has continued to be the ‘go-to’ place for Christian youth and children’s workers.
We have continued to invest in the development of our Leaders with the creation of training resources exploring topics such as suicide prevention and addiction.
We launched two major new discipleship courses for young people. ‘The Difference’ encourages young people to put their faith into action in their local communities and beyond. ‘Take the Lead’ helps young people develop their leadership skills by exploring topics such as character, courage and competence.
We worked with key partners to increase the amount of video content on the site and our ‘Christmas Down Here’ video was well received by those looking for content for unchurched young people.
There were 1,455 organisations subscribing to Energize at the end of 2022. This is an increase of 25 on the previous year
“Having Energize as a resource also helps to develop other leaders and give them confidence to lead sessions.”
- Lucy from Bedfordshire
Our prayer at the start of the 2022 season was for all involved in Camps ministry to experience life in all its fullness (John 10:10) – young people, leaders, behind-the-scenes team and prayer/ Financial supporters. We ran 38 Camps across four nations, enabled by over 500 volunteers, with around 20,000 young people, children and families hearing the Gospel message.
The year started with the return of the Easter house-parties in Ireland and was followed by Whit Camp celebrating 70 years with a brilliant weekend in Herefordshire. June saw four Sprees returning after a three-year hiatus and then a full summer programme ran. It was a busy but rewarding season as we have seen hundreds of young people make a decision to follow Christ and many more deepen their faith. The summer season concluded with Nefyn celebrating 60 years of Camps over the bank holiday weekend.
The Camps Development fund and Bursary fund were heavily utilised to ensure we maximised the opportunities at all sites and enable our Camps to be as accessible as possible. We granted more than 100 bursaries (over three times the usual amount).
Improvements to the 24/7 helpline we operate, to support those running Camps have worked well. We have also launched a dedicated Camps online prayer space to engage with a new generation of prayer supporters, whilst also retaining our existing (greatly valued) faithful prayer warriors.
“My daughter had a brilliant time at camp. She has come back asking to be baptised which is amazing.”
This year has been a busy one for the Additional Needs Ministry. Post-pandemic it has been great to be back in person for some training events. We continue to utilize our online training programme as this enables the reach to go further and enables more churches and youth groups to provide welcoming and safe spaces for children and young people with additional needs.
In 2022 we trained 2,000 leaders across 78 training and conference events.
The Additional Needs Alliance provides a social media group for children’s, youth and families workers, as well as church leaders, parents and carers, to share stories, ask questions, offer resources, and journey together to help all children and young people with additional needs to be included and belong.
In 2022 we wrote a new book ‘How to Include Autistic Children and Young People in Church’ and also turned it into a new training course. A further training course ‘Invited to Belong:2U’ which we produced in collaboration with Youthscape helps leaders break down barriers so that all children and young people can belong in groups. We are convinced that safe spaces for the most vulnerable children is something vital to our ministry.
“Thank you for another really interesting and thought-provoking session. Thanks also for the excellent resources! Fantastic training. I would wholeheartedly recommend to others.”
- Re: ‘All Inclusive?’ – Supporting Families
Westbrook Residential Centre
There were various challenges in 2022 such as unexpected repairs needed on the Westbrook site and dealing with an ever-changing environment since the pandemic but when we pause and reflect, we can also see God’s faithfulness in providing all that we need. We had the opportunity to open our site to many young people for them to have a chance to go away for a few days at a time and consider the big questions of life and faith. We have also been able to bring in new team members and make good use of their skills in the operation of Westbrook. On top of this, we have wonderfully been able to build stronger relationships with some local schools and local churches. One of the joys has been to see young people on site more and more, and to see them having a great time during their visits
“Thank you so so much for giving them so many fond memories. They have both commented how interesting the Bible is.”
“Both of our children have come home with tales of adventure and new knowledge of Christ.”
This page is an extract taken from the Annual Report and Financial Statements for The Crusaders' Union - 31st December 2022.
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