“We can only continue to get better if we listen to the young people we work with.” By Andy Sellins
Andy Sellins is Chief Executive of The Change Foundation. Having founded our first ever cricket programme in 1981, Andy has since overseen every programme that our charity has produced. We asked Andy to reflect on the past 40-years and share his thoughts on how far the charity has come.
In true fashion Andy began: “Young people should have every opportunity to fulfil their potential. It is our job to encourage a young person to develop their skillset. This allows them to eventually go on and make a positive impact on the world.” He added: “Over the past 40-years we’ve worked with over 250,000 young people both directly and indirectly. We know how to run a successful sports programme that positively transforms the livelihood of marginalised young people.”
We are incredibly fortunate to have learned just as much from our over-seas programmes as we have our UK programmes. In some instances, indirect gestures have allowed Andy and our team to learn more from the young people that take part on our programmes. Andy said: “In Africa we learned that feeding children allowed us not only to give them a hot meal but also allowed us to hold important conversations with young people and to gain their trust.” The Change Foundation took note of this and now offers participants on programmes such as our ‘Refugee Cricket Project’ a hot, home cooked meal after each training session. This has helped to build stronger relationships between our coaches and our programme participants.
When reflecting on the ethos of The Change Foundation Andy was adamant that little has changed. He shared: “We have always remained consistent in our belief that young people should turn up on time and more importantly be kind… developing these important life skills whilst having fun helps to prepare young people for a successful and positive future.”
Looking towards the future of The Change Foundation Andy believes that focusing more attention on teaching employability skills will make it easier for young people to secure successful, stable careers and livelihoods. Andy shared: “I believe that in the next 5-years we will really focus on the employability of our young people. Not only will it benefit employers by broadening their pool of talent, but it will also provide more opportunities for young people to go on and excel professionally.”
On a final note, Andy shared: “A lot has changed over the past 40-years. However, one thing that remains consistent is that we continue to listen and learn from the voices of the young people we work with… At the end of the day, we are trusted adults who only have their best interest at heart, and it is our job to find what it is they are good at and to help find them the network of support that allows them to go off and live incredible lives.” He added: “We can only continue to get better if we listen to the young people we work with. The world is always changing, and it is fundamental that we keep an open mind to change with it.”