We were born out of the Brixton Riots in 1981 and I ran our first-ever housing estates cricket programme in Islington in the Summer of that year, when local councils and government were worried about civil unrest in London and in other UK cities. A couple of weeks ago and with unrest back on our streets, we were 39 years old and the clock started ticking to our 40th birthday on June 18th next year. I am proud to have spent my whole working life creating opportunities for young people from a range of disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds to fulfil their potential and live happy, safe and rewarding lives. In other words, to tackle inequality.
I am equally proud of all our staff, trustees, ambassadors and supporters, who share this goal and who work tirelessly to make a difference in our world. We have an incredible work culture in which we listen, learn and then act. Three key priorities remain from those early days; to support young people to fulfil their potential irrespective of their ethnic, cultural, religious or economic background, to empower young women to unlock their aspirations, talents and their leadership and to ensure young people with a disability have the same opportunities to succeed as their non-disabled peers.
Since March we have had to transform ourselves from a charity reliant on developing trusting relationships with our young people through playing sport and through the associated, person to person contact, into a charity equally adept at engaging and empowering young people through online and remote methods. Our creativity has been remarkable and beyond our wildest expectations.
We are now entering a new phase in which our remote working will start to blend back in with a limited amount of in person interaction, delivered in a safe and socially distanced way. I am confident our team will continue to be visionary in creating an environment in which our young people have the opportunity to change their world for the better, whilst finding their productive and fulfilling place in it.
As always, we will ‘innovate and share’ with other charities and youth groups, looking for creative ways to share everything we have learnt during this period of lockdown. I am so proud of our team who have continued to support our young people through this unprecedented time and I am equally proud of the fact that even though all of our income streams have been disrupted, we have proved in fact that we are ‘stronger under stress’ and we have entered our 40th year busier than ever.
Happy birthday team!
Andy Sellins, CEO