‘I am passionate about making a difference, providing young people with the same opportunities’
We spoke to Alistair Dale, CEO of Youth Moves, about the charity, being located in South Bristol, advice for entrepreneurs looking to invest in a charitable cause, and much more.
Can you tell us a bit about Youth Moves and your role in the company?
Youth Moves is here for the young people of South Bristol. As a youth-driven charity, we deliver the best for young people through providing outstanding youth work opportunities.
We help and encourage individuals to live their best lives -to feel safe and to be themselves, to be happy and have fun, to grow and be confident. We give young people a voice and make sure they’re heard.
Our youth clubs offer positive, purpose-built spaces in the heart of South Bristol where young people can meet, take part in a range of activities and get involved in projects that benefit both them individually and the wider community.
Personally, I have been involved with Youth Moves for over 20 years in one capacity or another and for the last 13 years as CEO.
What drew you to the charity?
I love living in Bristol, the city is buzzing with creativity and energy and provides amazing opportunities for people to work, live and grow up, and yet that is not everyone’s experience.
Despite how well Bristol is doing, often winning the accolade of being the best city to live in the UK, it is leaving behind parts of the city and especially young people from the communities that we serve in south Bristol, which are among the most in need in the whole country.
I am passionate about making a difference, providing young people with the same opportunities no matter where they are born or what their personal or family circumstances. I was drawn to work for Youth Moves as it has similar values to me, it is determined to hear the voices of young people in every aspect of our decision making, has a great staff team and a brilliant board of Trustees, but more than that it has ambitions to grow, to develop and make a real difference to the young people and the community that it serves.
The Youth Moves website discusses how you aim to make young people feel secure, safe, happy, and like they have a voice that can be heard. How rewarding is it, to you, to make such a difference in young people’s lives?
It has been the greatest pleasure of my life to be able to know that everything that I do through my day-to-day work makes a difference to improve the lives of young people. So many decisions are made about young people by adults, but when we learn to listen to young people and to make them a part of the decision-making process what can be achieved is nothing short of remarkable, and they have helped shape our charity over the years and the impact has been phenomenal.
When the Youth Zone is completed in 2025, Youth Moves will join the OnSide network of charities delivering across the UK, what difference will this make to the charity?
Leading a charity can often be quite isolating, so when we join the OnSide Youth Zone network, we are really looking forward to having partners across the country who are dealing with the same challenges and issues on a day-to-day basis, as well as having people to pick up the phone to when things are difficult.
Most importantly, we will be able to learn from best practice from across the network, to pick up great ideas and things that have worked well elsewhere, and to be able to benefit from being a part of a network of charities working together to improve the lives of young people across the country.
What made you focus on South Bristol, and are you looking at expanding to other areas?
Many of the areas we work in across South Bristol are amongst the most in need and deprived areas communities in England, and in Bristol the 10 areas of the city with the greatest levels of need right now are all in the South of the city, so that is our clear focus.
If you are born in some areas of South Bristol your life expectancy is twelve years less than if you are born in Clifton near the Suspension Bridge, which is one of the icons of the city. This level of difference in the same city is not something that should sit comfortably with any of us, and we are determined to help bridge this gap.
South Bristol has amazing strengths and communities but can often feel cut off from the opportunities that exist elsewhere in the city and if we do not do something about it then it risks being left behind and a whole generation of younger people and their talents aren’t fulfilled.
We can’t let that happen and want to work with business leaders, individual philanthropists and partners to make sure that young people in South Bristol get access to amazing opportunities and have the best futures ahead of them.
Right now, as a charity we are fully focussed on the communities and needs of South Bristol, and this will be our mission in the short and medium term but who knows what the future holds!
You say you’ve raised significant funds to build a new youth centre in South Bristol. In what ways does Youth Moves raise money to fund this endeavour?
Building a new Youth Zone is a four-way partnership between local businesses and individual donors, the local authority, communities and most importantly the young people. As part of our campaign to raise the funding for the building of the Youth Zone we have been very lucky to have secured a large grant from central Government to match Bristol City Council’s contribution, and so our efforts now are focussed on raising funds for the ongoing running costs.
A great building is an amazing asset and one that is full of opportunity for young people, but the real magic happens through the brilliant relationships that the young people build with the youth workers and partners who will work at the Youth Zone.
To make this happen, we are looking to develop a family of donors who are passionate about Bristol, about making a difference for young people, who believe that talent is evenly distributed but that opportunity is not, and who want to be able to do something about this.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to find a charitable cause to support?
Understand your own motivations to support and what it is you are passionate about and where you feel you can offer the greatest benefit to your chosen charity. Do you want to support a national cause, or a more local charity where you are more likely to be able to get more involved, and see the difference that your support will make.
Do your research.
Meet the people who run the charity and ask them questions:
- Why does the charity exist?
- What do they need your support to do?
- How will they use your support?
- How can you get involved if you want to in the charity?
- What is the special ingredient or thing that means the charity makes a difference in their area?
Go and see the charity in action and meet the people who the charity works with. Talking directly with the staff and the people who use the charity allows you to understand how the charity operates and if it is a good fit for you.
Once you’ve decided who you want to support that is not the end but the start of the relationship, so stay in touch and keep talking.
What, to you, makes a good business leader?
Someone who is passionate and can convey that passion to others.
Someone who can make things as clear and as simple as possible, so everyone knows what their role is in the organisation and achieving the mission, but who understands the needs of individuals within the business.
Someone who acts with empathy and kindness and who treats every employee as important to achieving the overall mission of the business, no matter what role they play in the organisation.
Someone who can build alliances and partnerships, has a strong moral compass and who puts the team first over self.