26th November 2015
A blog by JLGB's Neil Martin
This year, the Jewish Lads' & Girls' Brigade (JLGB) celebrates its 120th Anniversary and the tens of thousands of young people it has helped turn into young leaders and active members of society. So what better and more exciting time to have been voted and accepted as full members of Youth United.
The JLGB is no stranger to collaboration, and throughout its history has prided itself on working with its brother and sister organisations in the structured and uniformed youth sector. From our origins with the Church Lads’ Brigade and the Boys’ Brigade, formal affiliation with the Cadet Forces in both World Wars exactly 100 years ago this year, to dual membership programme schemes with the Scouts, the JLGB has always done all it can to contribute to the sector in every way it can for the betterment of all young people and society as a whole.
Locally the JLGB has for many years also supported ‘You London’, ‘Project You’ and Youth United regional boards, where some really special and important collaboration includes combining local bands with the Air Cadets in Hendon for Remembrance Sunday, to training ultra-orthodox Jewish young people fire safety for their DofE to help the Fire Cadets in Manchester reduce fires in higher-risk areas where access into homes needs faith and cultural sensitivity.
Whilst we are a far smaller and nuanced organisation compared to others, the JLGB has always punched above its weight - leading the way over the last 120 years in many areas because of its expertise, understanding and passion to help engage those harder to reach young people not serviced by mainstream or universal services. This includes JLGB winning two prestigious national charity awards in 2013 for its working in creating access and removing barriers to ensure young people with faith and cultural needs could have full access to National Citizen Service (NCS) without their beliefs, values or practices being compromised.
For as much as JLGB has to gain from being national members of Youth United, equally it has just as much to give. Through the unique lenses in which we view the world, we believe we will add a different perspective to the conversation in areas of inclusion, faith, disability and many other areas, but also in areas such as digital technology and our pioneering 'eVOLve - young volunteering initiative' - an age progressive and faith sensitive digital passport for volunteering awards, which forms part of our Step Up To Serve #IWill campaign pledge.
The recent award of a grant as part of the Uniformed Youth Social Action Fund is perhaps one of the greatest opportunities JLGB has ever had to expand, and has allowed us to grow, regenerate and create local groups across the UK in ways that simply would not be possible without the generous support of the Youth United Foundation.
On Friday 4th Dec thanks to Youth United and the Cabinet Office, we will be launching of our ‘do your bit’ campaign for the Jewish community, to ask more people to volunteer as an adult leader with us. JLGB are committed to ensuring ‘a positive future for Jewish youth’, but there is a shortage of adult leaders attending weekly at our local groups to help us fulfil our mission.
The campaign features some of our amazing volunteers telling their stories: what they’ve given to JLGB and what they’ve gained in return. We’re telling potential new adult volunteers how young people in their local community desperately need role models, mentors and coaches to give them best possible chance to succeed in life. A vital need that all Youth United member organisations are actively doing something about.
Whilst our market and demographics might be more focused and nuanced, each of our organisations struggle with common issues of the day: with the need to find more adult volunteers to open new groups; image issues of a nostalgic but proud past; more children with physical or learning difficulties needing additional support; a reversal in the next generations social mobility and un (and under) employment; and a modern digital world where our organisations need to be seen by children and their parents as relevant, vital and crucial places to be for their development, and for a more successful future.
All this and more we look forward to exploring with all the organisations that make up Youth United, to learn from them all and where we hope JLGB will also bring much value.