Whatever it takes.

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Metro World Child is an international, faith-based humanitarian organization dedicated to serving inner-city children throughout New York City and various urban centres around the world. As their slogan indicates, Metro World Child seeks on a daily basis to provide hope that promises to sustain a concrete future for boys and girls growing up in the roughest circumstances and environments.

Through weekly Sunday school services, child sponsorships, special programs and personal home visits, staff and volunteers from around the world endeavour to do as much as they can to support disadvantaged children and their families.

Having had the privilege to witness first-hand the hard working dedicated nature of team members in New York City headquarters it is no exaggeration that they work tirelessly with maximum determination to do “whatever it takes” to reach as many children and their families as they can.

Every semester a team of 40+ interns arrive in Brooklyn to volunteer alongside the devoted staff members.

It is through this “Sidewalk Sunday School” internship programme that I got to experience what ‘real life’ for the majority of inhabitants in New York City is like and not the glamourous, over commercialised, deeply coveted “city of dreams” that the media convinces us it to be.

Yes, Manhattan is all kinds of wonderful in its own way – but I was most shocked to find that within the five boroughs of New York City, it is a very small part.

Of course, it could be argued that media producers wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t highlight and enhance the best parts of the city and add their personal touches of creative flair to produce the perfect movie scene or the most eye-catching advertisement. But it did sadden me to learn from personally talking with children who lived in New York’s public housing apartments, there are kids living within New York City, that have never stepped foot in Times Square or Central Park.

From their tiny, cramped, bed bug ridden, weed-infused housing project apartment, it’s understandable that the children living there can’t appreciate that there is more outside the unpleasant environment that surrounds them daily. For many, their future is expected to be a snowball of their parent’s bleak reality; unless there is someone who will choose to encourage them to look past their present circumstances and see the potential they have within themselves in a city where anything is possible.

The Why

It is nearly 60 years ago now when a young boy sat on a street corner for three days and three nights waiting for his mum to return. Time passed and no one took any notice of him until a Christian man whose own son was suffering in hospital decided he would make it his concern to see if there was anything he could do to help, he brought the young boy home, prepared him food and paid for him to be sent to a Sunday school camp. It is from that point this young boy – known today as Pastor Bill Wilson – the founder of Metro World Child – came to know Christ – and today makes it his mission to ensure “whatever it takes” is done to meet the needs of underprivileged children around the world.

With 174,282 families living in NYC’s public housing apartments (NYCHA, 2017) you can imagine the overwhelming task of ensuring that every child has the opportunity to attend Metro’s Sunday school programme. Through this after-school kid’s programme (known as “Yogi Bear” to the locals) the children are taught valuable life morals and precious truths centred on God’s Word, the Bible. For many kids their day is filled with yelling, neglect, tears and hurt so to have the opportunity once or twice a week through the outdoor programme or door-to-door visitation of offering a hug, smile, word of encouragement or “I love you!” to these kids who feel so much rejection on a daily basis, you can imagine the joy it brings to their little faces.

Based on the principle that “It is easier to build strong boys and girls than to repair broken men and women” Metro has developed an effective method for building relationships with children and their families in order to be a consistent source of hope and positive influence in their lives.

I am SO thankful to have had the privilege of serving alongside the people that make Metro World Child what it is today and I am so thankful for the goodness and faithfulness of God that I experienced during my time there.

I have no doubt that this ministry will continue to grow under the guidance of leadership who have a desire to serve God and the people of New York wholeheartedly.  I pray that God will continue to bless the efforts of His people in this place so that they can be as effective as possible in reaching the next generation of New York City for Christ.

You can learn more about Metro World Child here: Metro World Child

Rachel Henry is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin at: Rachel Henry


Greggs Advent Calendar – Genius PR stunt or Risky move?

Greggs Advent Calendar – Genius PR stunt or Risky move?

Greggs recently caused a media frenzy by replacing baby Jesus with a sausage roll in the nativity scene in images to promote their £24 Christmas advent calendar. Each door in the advent calendar reveals festive scenes with a Greggs twist and a voucher to use in store.

This prompted outraged reactions from Christians who did not see the humorous side. See my mum’s reaction below as an example.



Was it smart to replace ‘saviour’ with ‘savoury’ in the nativity scene? You could say the campaign worked well as my mum had previously not heard of Greggs but it got their name out there through increased media coverage. This is an example of how bad publicity can raise awareness of previously unknown brands. However, she is apparently now ‘boycotting Greggs’.

The advertisement was a risky move by Greggs, especially when religion is involved they may end up alienating a lot of customers. Jesus was Jewish, so replacing him with a sausage roll in the manger is inappropriate as Jews do not eat pork, therefore in that sense it is understandable why some may find it offensive. Would other religions, such as Islam be mocked publicly in the same way? Unlikely.

Greggs quickly apologised for the image and said in a statement, “We’re really sorry to have caused any offence, this was never our intention.”

It is often said in PR that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Greggs possibly knew this, as it is likely advisers in the company realised the risk and potential backlash from using this image, especially when religion and Christmas is involved. Could this be the reason why Greggs issued a statement to the backlash so quickly – was it just a planned controversial PR stunt to gain maximum publicity for Greggs?

I personally found the image funny and quite smart, especially for sausage roll lovers! With many of the main media outlets covering the story, there was reports that Greggs had apparently sold out of sausage rolls following the week of publicity it received. (13 November 2017).

On Twitter #greggsnativity trended for two days after the advertisement was released, giving them maximum unpaid-for publicity. This proves that sometimes provoking a reaction can gain maximum publicity for a brand.

The advertisement also made those who saw the funny side, get involved and create hilarious user generated content in the form of memes on the sausage roll, which was again maximising publicity for the brand.




Considering Greggs released 500 calendars, only available from 17 stores in the UK, means they were limited and in high demand thanks to the publicity received.




Time will tell how the sales went, however considering the increased demand for Greggs sausage rolls on the week it was released from the heavy amount of media coverage they received, shows that bad publicity, isn’t always a bad thing!

Elizabeth Owens is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @eowens12_ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethowens32/