Our Story.

There are many ways to work with young people, but we passionately believe in the journey. No quick fixes, no false promises, but a commitment to a community and individuals shown through trusted and honest relationships . Our personal and collective calling, inspired by our Christian faith, is to serve, love and be shaped by those in most need around us.

Our work started 20 years ago in two communities in Bradford. Church youth workers committed themselves to making a difference by stepping out and engaging with the young people on their streets. With a whole community approach, they set out to provide appropriate alternatives to the crime and temptations young people were involved in and inspire them to transform their lives.

In the past 5 years budgets for statutory children’s services have been significantly cut, funding opportunities have been reduced and short term solutions have left young people spiralling into new levels of poverty and hopelessness. Young people are often scapegoated. People see their behaviour but are unwilling to recognise their journey.

We inspire and support young people to improve their lives by developing resilience, aspirations and communities where they can thrive. To do this we create a relational underpinning that supports the other interventions a young person might need. Genuine relationship that holistically supports them at home, in school and on the Streets. We use highly skilled youth workers, proven methods of engagement and partnerships to create transformational results.

No young person should be prevented of fulfilling their potential because of circumstances or poverty. We believe that all young people should know they are loved and have the resilience to thrive. We are working hard towards this goal. Currently located in Bradford and South West London, we are committed to finding solutions, speaking up and doing more for some of the most marginalised young people in our society.


of young people say that their life is significantly better


of parents tell us that family life is much better


of parents and children think their community is safer

Vision & Values.

Motivated by our Christian faith, the way in which we go about our work is immensely important to us – we want to do the right things in the right way – and because of this we have adopted values to guide us in all we do – from the way that we recruit staff or work with people who access our services to how we will choose the right partners or suppliers.


Being committed to being unconditionally gracious and kind


Striving to act with honesty and integrity


Having heartfelt concern for young people that finds expression in action.


Creating an environment that places equal value on every young person we encounter


Affirming and championing young people’s rights, status, contribution and potential.

“Every young person should know they are loved and have the resilience to thrive”

Tim Elgar, previous CEO

Theory of Change.

Our Christian faith and years of working with the most vulnerable young people has shaped the way we do youth work. We help transform struggling young people through the development of strong, consistent, regular, loving and healthy relationships.

“e:merge work thoughtfully and skilfully with our students. They have made a measurable impact educationally and socially on some of our most vulnerable students”

Tim Sykes – Flex Manager, Grange Technology College.

The network of relationships and activities we provide creates strong relational attachments vital for a young person’s development; and also helps nurture the social skills, the aspirational desire, and the emotional resilience required to cope with and do well at school and in wider life.

Furthermore, each transformed young person becomes themselves an agent of change, a role model, a volunteer and a positive impact in their community.


Howard Astin

Rev Howard Astin

Chair of Trustees

Howard has a legal background and was the vicar of St John’s Bowling Bradford for 29 years. Now he is heading up Outworks:Bradford, a network of 12 congregations and 4 charities in inner city Bradford. Overseeing its congregations and community projects he has a vast experience of the Voluntary sector and exceptional local knowledge of the areas surrounding our main base in Bradford.

sharon de villiers

Sharon De Villiers

Sharon de Villiers is the co-founder of e:merge. She grew up for the most part abroad and finished her education in South Africa, qualifying as a secondary school teacher. After teaching English for some years, she joined Operation Mobilisation and worked in Montreal with runaway and marginalised young people for two years. Twenty years ago, shortly after marrying, she and husband Jan came to Bradford to establish a youth work at the Vine in BD4. A decade later, this transformed into the youth charity, e:merge. They have attended St John’s Bowling over the past ten years. They have four children and are foster parents. Sharon leads the youth congregation, Xstream.


Joel Topham

Joel is a chartered Accountant and has been employed by Sagars LLP since September 2004. He comes with expertise in financial management and systems and a good understanding of our legal obligations.

Georgina Taylor

Georgina Taylor

Georgina was co-founder of Youth Base over 20 years ago where e:merge all started. She has many years’ experience as a grassroots youth worker in this context bringing a historical and considered perspective, with an exceptional understanding of the needs of young people. Georgina is currently a full-time Foster Carer.


Paul Massey

Paul is currently Service Manager for Looked-after Children for the Sheffield Local Authority. He comes with over 40 years of public and voluntary sector knowledge and a background in Social work and youth work starting in Bradford. He has a great understanding of the needs of young people and the political landscape in which we are working.


Rev Derek Jones

Derek is currently serving as a Curate within Little Horton in Bradford having been ordained in 2017. Previous to training for ministry Derek worked for e:merge for ten years as a lead youth worker. He brings a broad personal youth work experience to the board along with a wider understanding of the sector in Bradford.