We have moved. Not, in itself, a dramatic statement, but one that has tremendous significance for our organisation. In 25 years, we have come a long way – a one person band to a staff team of fifteen, many under the age of 25. We have always looked at new opportunities, taken risks, and developed ideas. However, for the past 13 years, we have had a plan.
In 2003, we wrote a Position Paper, outlining where we were, and where we needed to go in the next decade. We needed more staff, new funding streams, new approaches to our work. We embarked upon a plan of steady, planned and sustainable expansion, never moving too far away from our core mission, but always thinking ahead. This expansion has not been to seek world domination – grow simply to get bigger, rather than developing to get better. We have never wanted to move too far away from the people that our organisation was established to support. And over that decade, we found our point of growth, big enough to do a range of work addressing a variety of need, small enough to be responsive and connected.
Now we move to the next phase. Young people asked us to change our name to something less formal, more reflective of what we do. So, last year, we became Youth Focus: North East. Young people and colleagues in the region have asked for more space to come and take part in training, seminars and meetings. So we have moved. Our new space offers us the opportunity to try out new things, provide different services, engage with new people. It is exciting, a bit scary, but absolutely the right move.
I think our approach reminds me a little of how we do youth work. We have made an informed choice about our future. We have taken a risk, but a calculated one. We have had to make changes, which has led to some fallout with friends. We have listened, learned, and we have taken steps to respond positively to the input of others. We have understood the need to keep true to ourselves, yet be open to new ideas and new ways of seeing the world. We have looked at things differently, and tried to make the best of who we are.
So we have moved. Not away from our mission, values or belief in youth work and young people, just our postcode. Come and visit. You are most welcome.
– Leon Mexter, Chief Executive