A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
Compiling our organisation’s annual report can sometimes be seen as a chore, but it is fact an excellent opportunity for us to look back over the past 12 months, review our work, highlights and achievements, and also reflect on what has changed and where we are headed to.
A change in name
This was a special year for the organisation as we turned 25, and coinciding with this milestone we re-branded from Regional Youth Work Unit – North East to Youth Focus: North East.
This had been a detailed process conducted over a 12 month period, involving staff, young people and a range of partners and stakeholders.
A re-brand can be a risky move, but for us, it has proven to be the right decision.
Following the launch of our new brand, a number of organisations and local authorities approached us to find out more about what we do and identify opportunities for working together. Our new brand also crystallised existing relationships with partners and professionals in our network, as they had a clearer understanding of what we stand for and the breadth of the work that we deliver.
In addition, the PR campaign to promote our new identity helped to raise our profile both regionally and nationally, and this is something we will look to build on in the coming months.
Our direct delivery work continued to flourish in 2014, with the addition of several new projects, including the Whitley Bay Big Local, SITE 100 Places, Young Leaders and the Transitions Advocacy Project – the latter two were conceived by young volunteers involved in our existing programmes.
We also saw the culmination of other programmes of work including Teenage Kicks, a one-year film project involving the production of a feature length film examining the portrayal of young people in the media since WW2.
In terms of our strategic and development work, this has evolved in the past year, too, enabling us to build on our existing relationships and forge new ones along the way. We continued to share our expertise in a range of settings including universities, schools and the statutory sector. Most recently, we have been facilitating the development of a Youth Offer in the borough of North Tyneside.
As our work expands into new settings and we collaborate with organisations across different sectors, what joins the dots and links all of this together is the fact that we always remain true to our values, with our work underpinned by the principles of good youth work. This is something that was reiterated through the launch of our new identity back in February.
This year has been another busy one for our team and has seen developments across all aspects of our organisation. We carried out an internal re-structure, clustering our direct delivery work around four key themes – youth employment, education and the arts, health and intergenerational work. And like other organisations, big and small, we’ve also seen new faces come and go within our staff team.
Set against all of this is the challenging and uncertain backdrop of the youth work sector, but we continue to stay hopeful and look to the horizon as 2015 approaches.
We would like to thank everyone we have worked with this year, as well as all the young people who have engaged with our programmes, and we look forward to whatever the next 12 months may bring.
Youth Focus: North East