Youth First was born from the passion of youth and play workers to create a means to sustain and ideally grow youth work, first in Lewisham and now beyond. We utilise the power of relationships with youth and play workers to provide young people with safe places to go, fun activities and a range of support to help them stay safe, enjoy their lives and grow to achieve their potential. Founded in 2016, Youth First spun out of Lewisham Council with the aim to find an independent future - to sustain and grow youth work in a climate that was otherwise burdened by continuing cuts and financial pressures.
Youth First now provides youth work to thousands of young people a year, with many of those seen on a regular basis. Open access provision is delivered from five youth centres and five adventure playgrounds across the London Borough of Lewisham. This “open door” provision allows for early intervention and is further supported by a street-based team and a number of other projects funded by our generous partners. At present Youth First is constituted as a mutualised community benefit society registered with the FCA. In order to increase our sustainability we are looking to change to become a Charity during 2021.
We have over 30 directly employed staff working from 5 adventure playgrounds and 5 youth centres for young people aged 8-18. With partners we provide personal safety training, music, arts and theatre projects to thousands of young people every year.
Because Youth First uses the power of youth work and the trusted relationships workers develop with young people to support them to safely enjoy their youth and empower them with the skills required to form and realise their ambitions. In this way we positively impact not just the young people we work with the but the communities and society they exist in.
At Youth First we:
- provide safe and practical activities that educate and empower
- help young people have fun, socialise, take risks, discover their own identities and acquire the life skills and self-confidence needed to lead happy and fulfilled adult lives
- facilitate programmes for young people which develop life skills
- give staff and young people a major voice in how we are run
- foster strong links with parents, schools and other community partners
- develop cost effective work programmes based on the responsible use of limited resources
Put simply, our vision puts Lewisham’s youth first.
To get a good understanding of the year gone and our future plans and challenges, take a look at our annual report here.