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My Journey with Pro-Action

Dec 13, 2018

How it all started:

My relationship with Pro-Action began as co-chair of Hertfordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Services (HCVYS) which brought together all the countywide organisations working with young people. It worked alongside Herts Association for Young People (HAYP), which supported around 100 rural youth clubs across the county.

I found myself at a table with my then co-chair of HCVYS, Sue Frost and the Chair & Vice Chair of HAYP, Janie Wentworth Stanley & Tom Lucock, discussing the possibility of merging to create a new organisation, which finally emerged as Pro-Action in July 2008. The four of us formed the first trustees, before gathering various others with the skills to help lead the organisation.

Highs and Lows:

In 2013 I was appointed CEO, making me the longest serving CEO of the organisation so far! The journey has seen the normal mixture of positive and negative elements that form the life of any organisation. One of the positives being the great work that was done in the early years with young people. It is a privilege to meet people who are now in their twenties who speak passionately about their journey with Pro-Action (& for some initially with HAYP), the direction it gave to their lives and the place they are now.

This was all possible because of the great support for young people from government, both central and local, where young people were much higher on the agenda than they are now.

Voice of a Generation:

Our range of Members has changed so much over 10 years, reflecting the changes to the children & youth scene in the county as well as the voluntary and community sector. There are lesser youth clubs running in local communities, and more single focus organisations working with young people.

This again reflects the government’s move away from supporting open youth work to a more targeted approach, which I personally believe has been a bad move for young people who are increasingly seen a problematic generation as opposed to valued members of our society transitioning in to adulthood.

One of my sadness’s is that we have been unable to hold together many of the county wide organisations within Pro-Action, especially as it weakens the voice of the voluntary youth sector. Unfortunately, once these voices are lost it seems impossible to get them back again.

Keeping the Flag Flying:

However, I do believe that through Pro-Action, we have kept a flag flying for young people and the importance of providing the best we can for those working to support them; so in turn, young people can be the best they can possibly be.

Upholding the importance of safeguarding across the sector is a key element of every organisation working with children and young people. Finally, ensuring the health and wellbeing of young people is a core part of what we want to encourage in the present and ongoing future.

As with all charities, we struggle with looking for funding to keep serving the sector, aware that each year we face the same challenge, although the uphill slope gets steeper year on year.

For me, I hope to see Pro-Action continues serving communities across Hertfordshire for many more years. I continue to do my part to keep the flag flying for the youth and voluntary sector, very aware that we can take nothing for granted – and that includes our children and young people, which in the end is what it is all about!

To learn more about the rest of the Pro-Action team, visit here.