30th November 2016
In late March, when I became Interim Chief Executive at Youth United Foundation, covering Lindsay Levkoff Lynn’s maternity leave, I had little idea what a privileged experience laid ahead. I’ve worked with amazing people and organisations – the Foundation’s committed and talented staff team, our inspiring and dedicated Trustees, those who lead and support Youth United Network member organisations and an incredible array of funders and supporters from all walks of life.
Youth United Foundation’s mission – to make it so that every young person in the UK can join a uniformed youth group if they want to – has a simplicity and clarity that brings joy to any CEO’s heart. The complexity behind that is that the Foundation can do little on its own.
Regrets on departure, however, are more than assuaged by reflection on what has been achieved in partnership with Youth United Network Members, funders and other stakeholders. One of the most rewarding tasks this summer was overseeing compilation of the Foundation’s fourth annual Impact Report. Launched in mid-October, in the historic setting of the Churchill Room – from where the war time Prime Minister made his famous VE Day address – it tells the story of how Youth United has supported the creation of some 42,000 new places in the four short years since the charity was started. Many of those places are in communities where young people are most disadvantaged and vulnerable, and this has enabled Youth United Network Members to extend their services to young people who otherwise would have had no opportunity to join or to benefit from the life-enriching experiences that are integral to uniformed youth groups. The Impact Report also underlines Youth United’s outstanding delivery record and value for money growth model.
With less spectacle or historic resonance but of equal importance, the body of evidence demonstrating the valuable impact that uniformed youth groups have for young people, for the adult volunteers without whom the groups could not operate and for local communities, continues to grow. It’s pleasing to see Youth United contributing to this through its commitment to independent evaluation of its own work and, under a project kicked off this summer, bringing together relevant research and evaluation from other authoritative sources.
To the Youth United Trustees and team and all our Network Members: thank you for letting me work with you on the most important task of all – improving the lives and life chances of our nation’s young people.