Members of the OnSide Network, including CEOs, Heads of Youth Work, and Trustees from all 14 Youth Zones gathered at HideOut, East Manchester Youth Zone on Tuesday 29 March for the OnSide Conference.
The day was an opportunity to share the wealth of experiences and knowledge across the Network, and to learn from each other so we can deliver the best for young people in all we do. This is particularly important at what is an exciting period of growth for the OnSide Network, with two Youth Zones currently under construction and four new projects in development.
The day was opened by Charles Mindenhall, Chair of OnSide’s Trustees Board. Adam Farricker, Chief Executive at HideOut Youth Zone and Joanna Whittaker, Chair of HideOut’s Trustees Board also spoke about the Youth Zone ‘s work of supporting young people in the local community and its growth since opening in 2020.
We were delighted to be joined by keynote speaker Dame Julia Cleverdon, DVCO DBE; Vice President of Business in the Community and former special advisor to the Prince’s Charities, Vice Patron of Teach First and co-founder of the #iwill campaign.
Dame Julia spoke passionately about the challenges facing young people, particularly those from low-income communities and the opportunities Youth Zones provide to build aspirations and to level the playing field. She praised the OnSide Network for “transforming the way youth work works” and stressed the critical importance of business leadership and collaboration to drive quality youth provision for young people in our most disadvantaged communities. Drawing on her experience as founder of the #iwill campaign for youth social action, she also encouraged delegates to do more to involve young people in decision making at board level across the OnSide Network.
Our CEO Kathryn Morley also updated delegates on our progress against our strategic plan, and the huge strides made by the OnSide Network post-pandemic to grow operationally, financially and strategically. She also spoke on the importance of the Network saying “as each Youth Zone gets stronger, the Network gets stronger” and the importance of continuous learning from each other.
The day ended with a series of practical workshops for Trustees nationwide on a range of strategic topics including fundraising, innovation, developing the people culture and building strong Youth Zone brands.
As a Network of 14 Youth Zones collectively supporting 50,000 young people every year, each Youth Zone is unique and working in ways to best support its young people and local community. It’s always impactful to have opportunities to come together, collaborate, learn, celebrate achievements and look ahead.