Youth First becomes a registered charity to ensure even greater access to youth work for the future

Tuesday 7th December 2021

Youth First has always been a non-profit organisation focused on offering exemplar youth work to young people in Lewisham and beyond. We were founded in 2016 as a Community Benefit Society, making Youth First a 'mutual' governed by the Financial Conduct Authority. We are excited that from today (7th Dec 2021) Youth First will change to become a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation with the Charity Commission England and Wales.

To explain why we are making this change it's important to go back to the start, when in 2016 Youth First spun out of Lewisham Council. One of the primary aims was to increase the organisation's ability to generate income from different sources and not be reliant on the Local Authority. While the funding received by the London Borough of Lewisham is generous (they continue to be our biggest funder), it's in everyone's interest that youth work can be supported by multiple partners and sources of income.

During these five years as a mutual, we have had some huge successes. These include; receiving private funding for the incredible three-year Woodpecker Carnival Project and funding a Street-based Youth Service through Children in Need.

By becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation we will have access to more grants and be able to take on opportunities available to charities only.

Ultimately there will be no more confusion about what we are - a charity putting young people first.

Despite this change, we are keeping the same ethos of a mutual by having young people and staff involved with the Board of Trustees to inform our decision making. Our focus remains the same. We are grateful to continue to have the backing from London Borough of Lewisham and the support of all our current funders to see the continuation of our delivery of high quality youth work across Lewisham. Cllr Barnham, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and School Performance, said of the change:

"Since 2016, Youth First has been a much-valued partner of the Council, providing young people with practical activities to empower them and provide a safe place to go. This change will allow Youth First to expand their work and continue as a free-to-access service." 

We know that being a Charitable Incorporated Organisation will allow us to expand and develop even more projects to support more young people in Lewisham and beyond. We hope you are as excited as we are for the future opportunities available to everyone at Youth First and the young people our services support. If you have any questions please feel free to drop us an email at

Mervyn Kaye
CEO, Youth First

Val Davison
Chair, Youth First