Just Love started in Oxford in 2013, where a small group of Christian students in Oxford were struck by two realities: the unjust world they lived in, and the just God they worshipped. They were reading in scripture how the God they worshipped called them to share food with the hungry and loose the chains of injustice – yet only a handful of their Christian student peers seemed to be engaging with this biblical call to social justice. This group of students began meeting to pray, strategise and send out the first Homeless Outreach groups, starting Just Love. They wanted every Christian student in Oxford to be engaged with social justice and doing something about it.
In 2016 we launched our alumni network as part of our vision to release students to seek Jesus and justice for the rest of their lives.
Working with Restored, an international Christian Alliance, we ran the Unashamed campaign, across Just Love groups in October 2016. The online campaign and various events raised awareness of violence women experience while at university.
We grew to 13 universities and saw Just Love feature at the HTB Leadership Conference. Not only this, but in September our staff team grew to 6.
Our alumni network continued to grow. We held our second national event in London and saw the first career sphere gatherings taking place.
2018 was a year of expansion. We increased to 19 groups (including two more in Scotland and our first group in Wales). In September our staff team grew to 8 people to match our numerical growth. At the end of April, Just Love celebrated our its 5th birthday and our national coordinator Tom reflected on what he’s grateful for.
Throughout the year we saw students and alumni take justice more seriously than ever before. Cambridge helped launch a refugee scholarship campaign and Durham established a winter night shelter. And we had just under 100 alumni attend our third alumni network day, with new Education and Science & Technology sphere groups getting started.
This was a fantastic year, with three Easter training events having taken place (including one in Scotland), as well as our biggest ever autumn training event when over 90 students gathering for prayer and teaching! In autumn we also hired two new staff workers, bringing our team to 10 and with the development of our alumni network, we’re excited that more students than ever before are being transformed to pursue Jesus and justice wherever they go!
This year was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the country went into a national lockdown which meant that Just Love had to go online! We very quickly planned two online easter training events and set about running Just Love through a global pandemic. Our students adapted well raising a huge £45,000 across the calendar year! In summer, we said a sad goodbye to Tom Christmas, the founder of Just Love, who moved on to pursue a career in business and politics. Our very own, Josh Smedley, stepped into the role of CEO in September and we welcomed three new staff members to the team.
As the country began to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to regain a sense of normality within Just Love. Over the summer, the staff team were able to meet in person for the first time since early 2020 and we ran our first in-person training event in September welcoming 120 students to Chiswick for our Autumn training event. In autumn our team grew again to 13 people in total and we ran our biggest ever in-person alumni day focussing on the theme of financial generosity. For the first time, we ran three alumni events across Glasgow, Sheffield and London.