Holistic youth work at the margins - the story of the Bradford e:merge project

The e:merge youth project operates in Bradford 4, an area which has been in the grip of deprivation for generations. The young people there live lives blighted by disintegrating families, violence, drugs and futility. A quick fix situation is not a possibility; to be of real help requires continuing dedication and commitment.

So youth workers, Yan and his wife, Sharon, are raising their children in an area most of us would avoid driving through. He and his five-year-old son were once threatened by a knifeman, high on drugs, on their walk home from school.

Just Walk With Me is an engaging, no holds barred look at the work of e:merge through the eyes of seasoned youth worker, Yan, who established the project in 1994, and new recruit, Niki.

A view of long-term youth work in the raw, the book challenges some of the assumptions about Christianity which many of us hold. It rejects the notion of a narrow-minded God, obsessed with a negative morality and young people converting to Christianity.

e:merge preaches a Jesus who invites young people to follow him as they are, not waiting until they have reached some measurable level of acceptable behaviour that identifies them as Christian. e:merge's approach to youth work is a holistic one, they are concerned with all the needs of the young people - practical, emotional, educational and spiritual. Their relationship with their young people is unconditional; whether they accept or reject the Gospel, they will continue to be loved and helped.

e:merge move forward in the firm knowledge that they are doing God's will. In his foreword to the book Michael H Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Social Theology at the University of Birmingham writes, "...theology and practice seem to meet most powerfully, where the unconditional love of a God who stays with us is modelled in the commitment of these youth workers."

Popular comic poet, lyricist, rhymer, entertainer, writer, singer and all-round lover of words - Jude Simpson is the author of Just Walk With Me. Jude has written this book on the basis of interviews with the staff and young people at e:merge.

Just Walk With Me (ISBN 9781860246111) is published by Authentic Media, priced £6.99.

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