Who are we?
CURBS is a small Christian charity set up in 1996 in response to the need for resources and training for church-linked children’s workers in inner cities and on outer urban estates. CURBS advocates strongly for an approach to children which starts in their urban world, values their spirituality and recognises their developmental needs.
What do we do?
CURBS provides a range of children’s resources suitable for use in church settings, such as Sunday groups, after school and holiday activities, as well as in school-based clubs. It the hands-on reflective learning programme, Through their eyes.
Who makes CURBS happen?
CURBS employs a part time Project coordinator. Much of the work is undertaken by the untiring support of highly committed volunteers who make up the teams that write the resources, conduct the training, and develop the thinking that drives the project. A Board of Trustees guides the overall development of the work.
Who uses us?
Our resources are used in a wide range of settings by urban and estate children’s workers from all church traditions. Our training is delivered in large conference settings, to groups of churches, and to small groups of four or five children’s workers in a local church setting. Our values and our approach to supporting urban and estate children’s work is recognised nationally as offering a unique perspective in the field of children’s ministry.
Who supports us?
We are supported financially through grant-making trusts, denominational bodies and through generous giving from individuals. We have been enabled to grow and develop to the extent we have through the prayer support of many committed prayer partners.
The vision for CURBS arose in East London back in the 1970s. Church-linked community work with children highlighted the need for Christian resources for use with inner-city children which publishers were not providing – resources which started in the world of the child, rather than assuming levels of literacy, biblical knowledge, types of activities, and patterns of attendance and family life more relevant to suburban middle class communities. Also it showed that there were no groups making provision specifically for the training needs of urban children’s workers. Following a pilot project in the early eighties supported by a local charity in the London Borough of Newham, the vision finally became a reality in 1996 when Kathryn Copsey, then editing SALT resources, persuaded Scripture Union to set up CURBS as a pilot venture for three years. During these three years, contacts were established, a resource and support team gathered, a pilot resource pack was produced and evaluated, training modules were developed and further kits were planned. The need for such a project was clearly confirmed such that in 1999, when Scripture Union funding was no longer available, CURBS was launched as a charitable trust in its own right. Today CURBS has continued to evolve using our knowledge and ethos to broaden our reach, where particularly our work is being expanded in the area of estates ministry. Also recognising the changing world we find ourselves in where pioneering and fresh expressions are pushing the boundaries.
Believing that all children are created in God’s image, CURBS starts in the world of the urban child and, through positive relationships, seeks to build bridges which will enable them to experience God’s loving care.
To this end, we hold the following values:
- Spirituality: Recognising and nurturing the ‘God spark’ in all children.
- Children: Learning from children, and, like Jesus, celebrating their energy, creativity and value.
- Urban: Joining with children in the joys and struggles of urban life.
- Relationships: Putting relationship at the heart of our understanding, learning and growth.
CURBS is more than simply a tool or a resource to be dropped into an urban church struggling with its children’s work. Underlying the Project is way of thinking which challenges traditional approaches to working with children. Within CURBS, children are seen as ‘flames to be fanned’ rather than as ‘jugs to be filled’. CURBS is about a different way of working with children – one which starts in the child’s world, is about earning the right to be heard, is about building relationships, and is about working holistically. To this end, the ethos underlying CURBS marries up three important strands of thought and practice:
Spirituality: CURBS takes seriously and works with the belief that children are made in the image of God and therefore have an inborn spirituality. Within CURBS we are constantly looking for ways in which churches can be encouraged to explore and nurture this spirituality.
Developmental processes: CURBS values the insights to be gained from understanding child development, and believes that we need to integrate these insights into the way we work with children.
Urban context: CURBS recognises that urban and estate life presents challenges that are rich and unique, and we are constantly exploring how we can understand, value and connect with these distinctive aspects.
CURBS in practice
It’s all very well talking about children but in CURBS we feel it’s really important to be working with children as well. Whilst CURBS itself does not currently run any groups for children all our staff, trustees and volunteers connect with children on a regular basis in urban areas and on estates.
Kids United was an important part of CURBS ‘on the ground work’ with children and families for over 4 years from 2008 – 2012.
Based in a church hall in Shadwell in East London it catered for 4 to 7 year olds and ran for a few days during each holiday period. The majority of the children come from one local school and we enjoyed games, stories, crafts and parachute games together. Parents and carers were also welcome to come and stay. During the summer holiday we went on family outings together.
Within this setting we ran a series of holiday club sessions based on themes and stories within Christianity and Islam that share a common heritage. This has now be written up as our most recent CURBS Kit, Kids United.
CURBS development worker
Sara is the CURBS development worker, and has been with us since January 2015. Sara’s main focus is the development and strategy around CURBS HUBS and Communities, so if you are running a HUB, are interested in setting one up local to you or just want to know more, then contact Sara. Sara has worked with children and families in a number of settings over a long period of time, and is also a Baptist Minister. Sara has lived on the Leigh Park estate on the outskirts of Portsmouth for the past 13 years with her husband and 4 children. If you want to get in contact with Sara, then feel free to email her using the “Contact Us” link above.
Peter Davison: Chair of Trustees
The CURBS Founder
Kathryn who founded the CURBS Project over 15 years ago and who was the Project Leader sadly died on 11 November 2011. She is now in the presence of the One whom she had served so faithfully and so enthusiastically for many years. Her love for children, especially in inner city East London led to the founding of CURBS. Her work has left a lasting impact on many churches and has influenced countless children. Her contribution will be greatly missed but her vision endures.
You can download Kathryn’s book ‘From the ground up – Understanding the spiritual world of the child’ via Amazon for Kindle and hard copy HERE.
‘Kathryn has written a practical book that those working alongside children and young people will treasure, but that also has the potential to open eyes and hearts of all Christians to some hidden truths of the Gospel.’ Dr Keith White, Director of Mill Grove