Blog: Youth Moves on an ‘amazing, unexpected boost’

15 Sep 2017

NYA is supporting Children and Young People Now’s Youth Work Award. In a short series of blogs, previous winners of the award write about how it impacted on them.

Alistair Dale discusses how Youth Moves has bucked the trend as youth work is decimated across the country.

Youth Moves is a traditional youth work charity aiming to deliver high quality youth work in a world that doesn’t really recognise or value the full impact youth work can make!

This is usually how I describe our organisation when talking to a new partner, funder, or anyone who will listen in fact! At Youth Moves we are passionate about the impact that great youth work can make, and are always advocating and educating others, about the difference professional youth work relationships can make to the lives of young people.

Over the last 5 years or more though we have seen the profession of youth work decimated across the country as a non-statutory service, yet during this period we have not only survived as a charity, but grown and thrived, offering more opportunities to young people who now more than ever need our support.

So despite not receiving any local authority youth work funding what is it that have we done to enable this to happen? What innovations have we shown, how have we been creative and adapted and changed to allow this to happen?

Firstly we have provided a very diverse range of activities and programmes, to allow us to build on what works, and meet the changing needs of young people, but also to be flexible to changes in funding and to take opportunities as they arise. This provision includes : – our open access youth club provision; a targeted mentoring service; youth voice and participation projects; positive activity programmes (sports, music and environmental); work with schools; outreach; and leadership courses/ social action projects including NCS.

We have also maintained as wide a range of funding streams as possible, including delivering contracts, applying for grants and trust funding, more trading of our services (e.g. to schools and the police), and getting donations from local individuals and businesses.

Our Board of Trustees and staff team have been very loyal, and consistently go over and above what is required and the young people are at the heart of all that we deliver, these solid foundations have allowed us to consolidate and grow.

However it was not easy as funding streams dried up, and seeing other youth work organisations going out of business, it was hard to remain motivated and focussed. So winning the CYP Now NYA sponsored Youth Work Award for 2015 was an amazing, unexpected boost to us all. It gave us confidence in the work we deliver, it rewarded the staff for all their efforts and it acted as a ‘kitemark’ to funders and partners that we were a well-recognised quality organisation.

It is hard to quantify exactly what winning this award meant for us, but I feel sure it has helped to raise our profile, and more importantly the impact great youth work can make to the lives of young people. In turn this has meant we have had more open doors in schools who now want to work with us, more funders who know they are making a positive investment, and more partners who want to work with us. This therefore means we can get on with our mission to deliver outstanding youth work in South Bristol and as our slogan says ‘Youth Moves – starting journeys, inspiring lives’.