06 April 2020
When I was first contacted about applying to be the next Chair at London Youth, I couldn’t believe my luck as I had started to hunt around for an exciting and fulfilling new role in the charity world and this one just leapt out at me!
You see, I had recently handed over the chair of the Springboard Charity which I founded in 1990 and had spent the last 30 years working with the team to build it into a national organisation helping thousands of young, disadvantaged and unemployed people change their lives through training and work placements in the hospitality industry. So finding another charity that was focussed on giving young people a better start in life was very much what I was hoping to commit my time and energy to.
I have lived in London all my life and, despite all the challenges that young people face today, it is still a great city and one full of opportunity if you can get the leg up that you deserve. That’s where London Youth and its network of youth organisations come in and, right now, there has rarely been a time when our work will be of such importance to this generation of young people living in the capital.
Never did I imagine that these would be the circumstances in which I would join London Youth. Although you can tell a lot about an organisation by the way they respond to an unprecedented crisis. It is clear how critical the work of London Youth’s 500+ members and others across the voluntary sector has been in recent weeks – and will continue to be – during these difficult and uncertain times ahead. And how important these organisations are to the young people, their families and the communities they are embedded within.
London Youth members and the youth sector across London has had to adjust overnight to delivering support to some of our most vulnerable young people who are no longer in school, no longer able to attend their youth club and too many of whom are living in homes where they may not feel safe. I have been so impressed by the determination of youth workers across our network and London Youth staff to quickly identify how support can continue to be given to young people by those whom they know and trust.
Before this pandemic hit, I had spent the last two months learning about London Youth and the scope of its work. The more I found out the more impressed I have been. The teams at London Youth do an amazing job, whether it is assisting youth workers to improve the quality and breadth of their services to young people through the training and support on offer; or running sports, arts or employability programmes; or the residential activities at Hindleap Warren and Woodrow High House. And then, there is London Youth’s role as a voice for London youth which is equally important.
It all links together and the focus on how to improve the lives of young Londoners is always there and that is a mission I wholeheartedly endorse. What has deeply inspired me in my past work with Springboard Charity am are the individual stories that young people have told me about how their lives have changed for the better thanks to the right help and personal support. I have seen at first-hand how you can turn adversity into a story of personal achievement and success. Whether it is a broken home, poverty, gangs or drugs and alcohol, the loss of confidence and the despair that can bring can be overcome.
London Youth is at the very heart of helping thousands deal with those challenges and I am keen to see how I can help them in that task. That’s why, even if it is a very challenging environment in which to take over from Julian Beare, who has incidentally done such an outstanding job, I am genuinely thrilled to be asked to succeed him as chair of this great organisation.
I am committed to leading this vital network of London’s community youth organisations through the challenging months ahead. And to support them and the sector to rebuild in the aftermath to ensure young Londoners who have been so terribly affected continue to receive the opportunity to thrive which they so deserve.
– Stephen Moss CBE, Chair