The Message Trust

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The Message Trust
Andy Hawthorne.jpg
Type Registered Charity number: 1081467
Founded 1992
Founder(s) Andy Hawthorne OBE
Area served Greater Manchester, UK
Motto Faith in young people

The Message Trust is an award-winning Christian charity working to improve the lives of young people in Greater Manchester, UK and beyond through the Eden Network.

Working in schools, in local communities and in prisons, The Message is in contact with around 100,000 young people each year.[1]

The Message was founded by well-known speaker, author and current chief executive, Andy Hawthorne OBE.


The history of The Message is told in Andy Hawthorne’s books, The Message 20 - Celebrating Two Decades of Changed Lives [2] and Diary of a Dangerous Vision [3]

Message 88 and 89[edit]

The Message Trust has its roots in a week-long youth event that took place at the Manchester Apollo in 1988, Message '88. Founder and current CEO Andy Hawthorne together with his businessman brother Simon felt stirred to present the Christian gospel message relevantly to the young people of Manchester and organised a week of mission gigs at the Apollo. Message ‘88 attracted over 20,000 young people to hear live performances by bands and artists and a presentation of the gospel message.[4]

A repeat run in 1989 attracted similar numbers and led to the brothers being approached by a member of one of the bands involved about forming a full-time youth mission to schools. ‘Message to Schools’ was the result, formed with the express purpose of taking the gospel to young people in schools through hip hop and dance music.

Schools work[edit]

A band was formed to run the schools weeks, dubbed the World Wide Message Tribe, later shortened to simply The Tribe. Demand for the band to play in schools and further afield quickly increased and the Tribe went on to record successful albums which brought international recognition and critical acclaim. The Tribe disbanded in 2004, but The Message's schools work has multiplied with new bands, LZ7, BlushUK (until 2010), Twelve24 and MaLoKai, and theatre company In Yer Face working in high schools in and around the Greater Manchester area. Several new teams, including a street dance crew, are currently in development.

Eden Network[edit]

Continuing the sharp focus on Manchester, and particularly the toughest areas and estates of the city, Andy Hawthorne and team began to have a vision to see Christians moving into these areas to live and work, supporting local churches particularly to reach young people. This initiative was named Eden, and the first Eden partnership was launched in 1997 in Benchill, Wythenshawe, at that time the most deprived neighbourhood in the UK.[5] Others followed and today there are 23 active partnerships in key areas of urban challenge in Greater Manchester, London, the North East, Yorkshire, the Humber region and Merseyside. The history and philosophy behind Eden is explained in Matt Wilson's books Eden: Called to the Streets and Concrete Faith.[6] In 2009, the Eden Network [7] was formed with the aim of spreading the Eden vision to other urban areas across the UK.

Eden Bus[edit]

An Eden Bus ministry was launched in early 2000, to extend The Message’s reach into local communities. Two mobile youth centres, fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology and staffed by committed volunteers, visit some of Manchester’s most deprived neighbourhoods, working with around 500 young people a week.

Message 2000 and Festival:Manchester[edit]

In the summer of 2000, The Message partnered with another Christian youth charity, Soul Survivor, to run an ambitious city-wide youth mission, Message 2000. Around 10,000 young Christian volunteers worked in partnership with Greater Manchester churches on social, environmental and crime reduction projects. The project was hailed as a success, not least because during the 10 days of work in one estate, Swinton Valley, there were no recorded incidence of crime. Since the summer of 2000, police have reported a sustained reduction in crime.[8] In the summer of 2003, The Message partnered with the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, to put on another week-long city-wide venture, Festival:Manchester. Over 5,000 young people got involved in a total of 317 local community projects, many in association with the Greater Manchester Police. Around 55,000 people from across Manchester attended the open-air festival that took place in Heaton Park the following weekend, featuring Luis Palau, and performances from The Tribe, Michael Tait and TobyMac.[9]

'Words and action' evangelism[edit]

The model of ‘words and action’ evangelism which characterised both Message 2000 and Festival:Manchester continued in the ‘Big Deal’, ‘Hope 08’ and 'Shine Your Light' initiatives. Supported by police, schools and councillors, Big Deal and Hope 08 brought together local communities to deliver social action and community-building projects in the ten boroughs that make up Greater Manchester. These range from environmental clean-ups, painting, car washes, barbecues, children’s activities, fun days and youth concerts. In 2010, The Message launched a national campaign to spread the model of 'words and action' evangelism further, challenging young people to complete 15 specific acts of kindness in their local communities during the summer of 2010.[10]


Reflex is The Message's ministry in prisons across the North West of England. Originally started as a partnership with Youth For Christ, Reflex works mainly with young offenders between the ages of 18 and 21 but also works with juvenile offenders aged 17 and under.[11] Their work spans first-contact detached work on the prison wings through to help with resettlement back into the community in conjunction with the Message Enterprise Centre (see below).

Message Academy[edit]

The Message Academy (formerly Genetik) is an annual gap-year programme for young people aged 17 and over who wish to train in Christian mission and youth work. Over 400 young leaders were trained by The Message between 2001 and 2012. The Message Academy course runs over 10 months and involves placements in The Message's community-based Eden projects. Students choose from three specialist 'tracks' – Creative, Urban or Worship – which have attracted guest tutors including Matt Redman.[12]

Urban Hero Awards[edit]

July 2008 saw the first annual Urban Hero Awards at which young people are honoured for notable achievements, often against the odds. The Awards have been repeated each year since, with winners from all over England emerging from Eden projects in Yorkshire to the Message Academy (Genetik) programme in Manchester. The Urban Hero Awards 2012 took place at Old Trafford Cricket Ground with 800 guests including Lord Bob Edmiston and Sir Brian Souter (Stagecoach).[13]

Message Enterprise Centre[edit]

In January 2013, the charity opened the Message Enterprise Centre, a new business and training hub for young people in the region.[14] Building on The Message's track record for mentoring young men and women from disadvantaged communities and those leaving custody, the Centre has created several new businesses which employee ex-offenders.[15] As of February 2013, these include a café, a hair & beauty salon, a cycle recycling shop and property maintenance and development businesses.

Twentieth anniversary in 2012[edit]

In November 2012, The Message Trust celebrated 20 years as a charitable trust with the release of a hardback book and an accompanying CD, documenting the journey so far in words, pictures and music.[16] It also contains 20 of the most striking stories of transformation from the first two decades. New stories are regularly published on the charity's website,[17] every four months in the charity's Flow magazine,[18] and monthly on its "Flow Podcast".[19]

Future plans[edit]

In 2013, The Message announced plans to continue to grow its work among young people in schools, communities and prisons along three main strands: developing existing and adding new creative teams to reach young people in high schools in Greater Manchester and beyond; working with local churches to develop existing and adding new Eden partnerships, bringing life and hope to the more of the toughest communities in the UK and key global cities; and partnering with the Message Enterprise Centre to disciple vulnerable young men and women while in, and once they have left, custody.


External links[edit]