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10 February 2014

Monday 10 February 2014

At London Youth, our fourth strategic objective is ‘to be the best we can be ourselves; financially robust and a great place to work’. That’s why I couldn’t be prouder that London Youth has this year made it into the Times 100 top non-profits to work for and gained one star recognition.

By no means does this mean that I think we exist to provide jobs for our staff; our mission is very clearly to support and challenge young people to become the best they can be, but I do think having a staff team who is supported and challenged themselves is key to achieving this.

So often in the youth sector professional development and support for staff gets cut as people well intentionally want to keep as much resource directly for young people; yet unless we continue to develop the confidence, resilience and leadership skills of our staff they will not be able to instil the same development in those they are working with. This doesn’t have to be in the form of expensive qualifications though. That’s why we’re really focusing our membership development offer more and more on opportunities for youth workers to share learning with each other through networks and action learning and to find low cost ways to continue their own professional development way beyond the technical youth work skills they develop early on. We encourage our staff to spend days shadowing each other and those in other organisations as a cheap and effective way to broaden their perspective and networks. But we know there may be more that we can do, and other ways that we support members, so we’re keen to keep listening to what youth workers and young people tell us they need.

Our membership network is full of hundreds and thousands of passionate, committed and talented individuals who go above and beyond to give young people opportunities. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of them, as well as the staff team across London Youth, for all their hard work. Tony Smith has been at our outdoor education centre, Hindleap Warren, for over 30 years and still bounds out of bed each morning with the enthusiasm of his first day at work and a commitment to do a little bit better each day. Whilst our newest recruits of apprentices and assistants are learning to work together as a team as they establish themselves in our workplace for the first time.

It is right that young people are always front and centre of what we do, but I’m passionate about getting better at how we develop those who work with them.