As my last working day of 2020 draws near my last real job aside from leading the Christmas Cheer amongst our team is to reflect on the year gone and the year to come.
And what a year!
This week we met with our Board and reflected on the ambitions we had in January 2020 and how rapidly and unexpectedly everything changed. What was meant to be a steady year of growth doing our thing very quickly became a year of acceleration and activity.
Covid-19 has hit all of us in so many ways, but for Youth Employment UK it was the impact it would have on young people that become our number 1 priority. Whilst we did not have the epic job of switching a face-to-face service online as many of our colleagues did, we had to ensure that we could support even more young people and employers at a time of crisis.
We applied our skills and expertise in setting up the Youth Employment Group (YEG), a policy group that would by the end of the year bring more than 170 organisations together and provide expert guidance and recommendations to the government, leading the call for an Opportunity Guarantee of which Kickstart is a key facet. The Chairs of the YEG have worked harder than anyone should have to, but our collective work has made a huge difference and I am very grateful for all we have achieved together.
We added hundreds of new content pieces to our site, including Covid specific support for young people and employers. Every policy change and update that affected young people was translated by our content team into youth friendly advice and guidance for the 1.5 million visitors to our site this year. This in addition to our normal content schedule of brilliant skills and careers help for young people. We also set up a weekly 11’s to be even more accessible to our Ambassadors and provide extra support as they navigated the crisis.
When it came to employers we opened up access to the Youth Friendly Employer Badge providing more free advice and guidance to businesses to help them support the young people in their networks during the crisis. And what a Symposium!
As a board member and trustee of other organisations I know first hand the range of impacts Covid has had on operations of the third sector. We have been incredibly lucky this year, we have seen growth in all aspects of our work, including growth in our staff team. Being able to hire and give opportunity this year has been my privilege. We have walked our own talk by hiring 3 young people into the team, testing our youth friendly muscle by creating roles and a culture that will support and nurture them and their careers at Youth Employment UK.
I now have this incredible set of colleagues around me who are wholly committed to our mission and next year I know they will become experts in their fields as we continue to scale and grow. I am sure much of my joy in 2021 will be watching our Apprentices graduate!
My biggest thanks to all my colleagues and sector friends, Ambassadors and Board Members this year, they have each been key to our work and achievements.
We cannot predict what 2021 will look like, we have learnt this the hard way this year, you never know what is around the corner! But what I am certain of is that we have to come together to right the wrongs of 2020 and to close the gaps that have widened in society because of Covid. We have to make young people our collective priority and be more ambitious and creative than we have ever been, but we have to do that with them, not to them. There will be a lot to do!
I hope lots of normal will return quickly next year, I am looking forward to leaving the office and seeing friends, ambassadors and colleagues again across the UK. But I have to say I am first looking forward to a long break and time with my family who have waited patiently for me to come home and put my laptop down every day this year since March.
“I am coming kids!”
Leaving you with some of our highlights, thanks and seasons greetings, stay safe everyone!