Tees Valley Youth for Christ is the local UK Christian missions organization that UK-USA Ministries partners with to host Volunteer Youth Workers in England. Youth for Christ is an international missions organization founded in the 1940s by Billy Graham and currently supports branches in over 100 countries. Tees Valley Youth for Christ is the local branch in North East England and has been running since 2003. All visas are acquired through Tees Valley Youth for Christ and all work in the Tees Valley is done under the banner of Tees Valley Youth for Christ. Think of UK-USA Ministries as a funnel that collects volunteers from across the entire United States and channels them to the Tees Valley where Tees Valley Youth for Christ works.
The Tees Valley is located in the North East of England, around a five hour drive from London. Teesside is named for the river Tees, which runs all the way through the valley. It is a great place to experience the varied aspects of English culture, and is surrounded by beautiful coastal areas and countryside. The Tees Valley is also home to some of the most deprived areas in the country and there is enormous need, both physical and spiritual. A number of social/economic problems mean that many of the young people and families who we see every week are living in circumstances that are far from ideal. With only 3% of the UK claiming to have a Christian faith, there is a real need for people to get to know the God who created and loves them. Britain is a post-Christian society with at least two generations basically missing from the church. We are praying desperately for revival, and believe that we will see one in the Lord’s timing. We know that He can bring healing and restoration unlike any other to the Tees Valley and the rest of the UK!
In UK public schools, religious education (RE) is a mandatory subject taken by all students. This provides opportunities for Volunteer Youth Workers and Ministers to go into their local schools to contribute to teaching the RE curriculum by presenting a Christian perspective on a range of topics. During these assemblies and lessons, young people get to hear aspects of the Christian message as part of their school day. Many of our Volunteer Youth Workers also lead lunch time or after school clubs that combine Christian teaching with games, crafts, and other activities.
While the opportunity to speak about Christ with young people in school is incredible, we believe that relationships are also key to seeing young people come to know Jesus. Going into schools creates opportunities to build relationships with young people in their own environment, and for this reason we aim to seek out every opportunity possible to interact with students during the school day. Many of our Volunteer Youth Workers regularly volunteer to help with additional subjects like music, drama, or PE. They also lead mentoring sessions, school-based community service projects, and sports clubs.
Every time we walk through the doors of a school, we have an incredible chance to show young people and school staff what Jesus looks like through how we treat them in the small, everyday encounters. We are constantly praying that occasions to invite them to events like café church or a youth club will come up, so that we can build on the foundations that are being built in school.
Yes, the majority of our Volunteer Youth Workers live with English host families from the church where they are based. A small number of Volunteer Youth Workers live together in houses or flats provided by their host church.
Our hosts are typically families or married couples. Some are older and some are younger, but all are known well by the church with which we are partnering. We like Volunteer Youth Workers to live with hosts because it provides you with an extra level of support to get you through the year. Living in a host home gives the feeling of being part of a family, and that can be very valuable when you are far from home.
We do our very best to house our Volunteer Youth Workers as close as possible to the communities they’ll be working in because we are passionate about incarnational mission. It creates greater opportunities to get to know young people when you run into them in the supermarket or out in the town. It also sends a powerful message to young people and their families that you value where they live enough to become a part of their community.
Some host families are able to commit to hosting a Volunteer Youth Worker for the whole year, but others are only able to commit to shorter periods of time like three to six months. You may end up living with two or three families from your church over the course of the year, depending on circumstances.
When possible, we will put Volunteer Youth Workers in touch with their hosts before they get here. We can’t say that this will always be the case – so we may be working out the details of your accommodation until just before you arrive.
Yes, we ask that all of our hosts have space for the Volunteer Youth Worker to have a room to themselves.
No, these will be provided by your hosts. Save the space in your suitcase for something else!
We expect you to treat your hosts as part of your mission for the year, and to have a servant heart when it comes to how you treat them. This means helping around the house without having to be asked, keeping your room clean, helping with the dishes, and generally being considerate.
We will work with you to book your flights through a travel agent. The closest airports to Teesside are Durham Tees Valley and Newcastle. Manchester and London have the biggest UK airports, so it may be easier to find flights there that suit your needs. From Manchester and London, the train will bring you up to the North East. Trains from Manchester to Teesside are generally less expensive than trains from London.
We work with you to book travel through a travel agent. Once your visa application has been approved, flights are booked. We don’t want you to have to pay extra fees to make changes if your visa hasn’t arrived before you planned to fly.
The public transportation system is excellent, and you can typically get a bus or train to anywhere you need to be. Occasionally our team members who drive will be able to help with rides, but we do expect our Volunteer Youth Workers to learn to get themselves around. You will probably walk more during The Journey than you ever have before!
Yes, you will get two weeks off during the Christmas holidays, with an additional 11 days plus bank holidays to take throughout the year. You will need to arrange your times off with your host church before you decide to travel.
Each one of our teams looks a little different when it comes to their weekly schedule and the types of work they do. The basic structure is:
- Monday mornings: meet with the Tees Valley Youth for Christ team for worship and prayer
- Weekdays: schools and community work with your team
- Evenings and weekends: help to lead youth and children’s activities at your host church
Some of our teams spend the whole week in a single school, while other teams go into three to four schools per week. This is usually a combination of primary and secondary schools. They might be teaching lessons, leading assemblies, providing classroom support, leading lunch time/after school clubs, delivering mentoring sessions, coaching sports teams, or doing anything else we can use as a way to engage with young people in a school setting. If you have a particular skill or hobby, you might be able to use it to start a new club or get involved with activities that are already going on in the school.
We believe that relationships are key to seeing young people come to know Jesus. Going into the schools creates opportunities to build relationships with young people in their own environment. Whether your team ends up leading a lesson or simply being around at break time, we have an incredible chance to show young people what Jesus looks like through how we treat them. Many of the young people you will meet in schools come from difficult home situations, and you might be the only person who asks them how they’re doing that day. We want our Volunteer Youth Workers to be salt and light in every school they enter, and so much of this comes down to small, everyday encounters with students and staff. Hopefully occasions to invite them to events like café church or a youth club will organically come up, so that you can build on the foundations established in school.
You will need to look professional to go into schools as a representative of Tees Valley Youth for Christ and your host church. How the school perceives us as Volunteer Youth Workers can make an impact on what we are allowed to do in the schools. All UK schools have uniforms, and many of the schools locally have adopted blazers and ties in the past couple of years.
Some of our teams spend time reaching out into the wider community beyond their work with young people. They serve at food banks and community meals, outreach events like coffee mornings, and drop in sessions for asylum seekers. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the parents of young people you may meet in school, other church members, and people from the community.
Your host church will be where you worship on Sundays and your primary church community while you are here. The majority of the churches we work with have a Youth Worker on staff, and you will be working with them to run youth and children’s activities. This will probably be a mix of activities for young people who attend the church, and outreach events for those who live in the community. Some of the churches we work with don’t have a Youth Worker, and your role would be focused more on developing youth activities for the church. We tend to place older, more experienced Volunteer Youth Workers in these type of placements.
Yes! We are so excited to see churches working in unity to reach their towns and villages for Christ. Groups of Youth Workers from different churches who work in similar areas and schools have teamed up to work together to make an even bigger impact on their young people. Also, a number of Ministers locally meet to support and pray with each other every week.
Café Church happens once a month and is an informal setting to invite young people to where they will get to experience elements of worship and testimony in a non-church setting. Tees Valley Youth for Christ supports local churches who run Café Church. We encourage our Volunteer Youth Workers to get involved by leading worship, sharing their stories, or simply being around to talk to people. Depending on the church you’re placed in, you may/may not be involved in running a café church, but we encourage Volunteer Youth Workers to bring their young people to a local Café Church.
We spend a lot of time prayerfully considering where to place each Volunteer Youth Worker. We think through personality, gifts, experience, age/gender, the needs and work of the churches, and the overall dynamics of each team.
Sometimes friends will choose to apply to The Journey at the same time as you do. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that you will be placed on the same team or in towns that are near to each other.
Similarly, if you have been on a mission trip to Teesside in the past, we may or may not place you in the same church/town that you have visited.
Ideally, every team should have at least two Volunteer Youth Workers on it. There may be a few months of the year where this is not the case if we are waiting on additional team members to join. Our bigger teams have four to five members; it depends on how many churches in an area choose to host Volunteer Youth Workers that year.
We begin the year with two weeks of training as a whole team, and specifically focus on getting ourselves ready for the year ahead. This past year our training covered, among other things:
- The basics of UK youth work
- Practical workshops – how to plan and lead lessons, assemblies, after school clubs, and individual talks
- Youth work contexts – working in schools, churches, communities, and mentoring situations
- Team dynamics
We have a year-long curriculum that provides various extra training throughout the year on topics ranging from your personal faith to youth ministry. In January, we attend the Youth for Christ conference together which is a week focused on Christian youth work.
During the first week of the school term in January, all of the Youth for Christ centers from across the UK come together for a time of worship and teaching. It’s exciting to get to see how Tees Valley fits into the wider picture of the Youth for Christ movement. It’s also an excellent time to recharge and spend some quality time with God and the team before diving back into work. There are usually services in the morning and evening, and the opportunity to attend different seminars during the day.
The majority of our Volunteer Youth Workers bring their US cell phones with them, and have them unlocked in the US. Once in the UK you can buy a SIM card from a UK mobile phone company either ‘pay-as-you-go’ or as part of a monthly plan. You could expect to pay around £10-20 a month depending on your usage.
The cost of The Journey is discussed during the application/interview process. Upon acceptance into the program, a budget is prepared for you and a detailed discussion takes place.
Any traveling that you might want to do around the UK/Europe would be your responsibility.
Yes, a number of our current Volunteer Youth Workers have monthly supporters. Supporters can easily set up support online via ACH/credit card or mail in a check.
Our Relationship Manager, Kim Ladd, can help with any questions about finances. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes. Depending on the length of time you commit to serving with us, you will need either a Tier 5 charity worker or Tier 5 religious worker visa.
Yes, when the time comes to apply for your visa we will send you detailed information about how to go through each step of the process, and we help answer any questions you may have.
The first thing we’ll do is issue a certificate of sponsorship that basically just says you’re coming to work for Tees Valley Youth for Christ and what you’ll be doing with us. You’ll then complete a visa application online and at the end you’ll be asked to make a biometrics appointment. This is an appointment to have your fingerprints and photos taken. Once you’ve been for your appointment, your completed visa application gets mailed off and the wait begins!