The Message Trust

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The Message Trust
Logo of The Message Trust.jpg
Founded 1992
Founder Andy Hawthorne OBE
Type Registered Charity number: 1081467
Area served

The Message Trust is a Christian charity working to improve the lives of young people in the UK and beyond through work in schools, prisons and communities.[1]

Working in partnership with churches and other organisations, The Message is in contact with around 100,000 young people each year.[2]

The Message was founded by Andy Hawthorne OBE.

Andy Hawthorne outside Message Trust Manchester HQ, July 2014


The history of The Message is told in Andy Hawthorne’s books, The Message 20 - Celebrating Two Decades of Changed Lives [3] and Diary of a Dangerous Vision [4]

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.[5]

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.

Creative teams in schools[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 creative teams to reach young people in high schools in Greater Manchester and beyond. These include bands LZ7, Twelve24, Vital Signs, MaLoKai and BrightLine; theatre company In Yer Face, dance crew Square1 and sex and relationships team Respect Me.

Urban community transformation[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.[6] 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.[7] In 2009, the Eden Network [8] 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. The Eden Buses are mobile youth centres, equipped with technology and staffed by volunteers from local churches. Each week the Buses visit deprived neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester and Merseyside, working with hundreds of young people each 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 citywide 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.[9] In the summer of 2003, The Message partnered with the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, to put on another week-long citywide 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.[10]

'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.[11]

Ministry in prisons[edit]

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.[12] 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.[13]

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 2014 took place at Lancashire County Cricket Club's Old Trafford ground with 800 guests including GMP Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy.

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.

Regional hubs and first international hub[edit]

During 2014, two UK hubs were launched to develop The Message's reach across the nation of Scotland and the Midlands region. In September 2015 Message Wales was launched when Ignite merged with the Message Trust. Gary Smith, founder of Ignite was appointed Message Wales Director.

The Message South Africa launched in March 2014, first in Cape Town and then across South Africa.[16]


External links[edit]