New adventure play model in Lewisham


LEWISHAM: Lewisham’s five adventure playgrounds are now run by Youth First, a social enterprise and staff-led mutual which officially launched last month.

Youth First directly employs 50 directly staff working from five adventure playgrounds and five youth centres. It will also act as an umbrella organisation for youth provision across Lewisham; funding and partnering with other organisations with shared aims.

A social enterprise which is owned by its employees and the young people it serves, Youth First took over running youth services last year but officially launched on 18 July 2017. The launch event saw 200 guests gather to hear speeches from Youth First’s Chair of Trustees, Sir Ian Mills; Chief Executive Officer, Mervyn Kaye; and from its youth board directors, Dolly Nightingale and James O’Keeffe.

Sir Ian Mills, Chair of Trustees, said: ‘Youth First has been tasked with one of the most important challenges in society today – to build the future adult population of Lewisham. Our responsibilities are to improve the self-confidence and the life skills of almost 35,000 young people in the borough. We are very determined and have set ambitious targets. We have a clear vision of the kind of organisation and services we want to be providing by 2021.’

Mervyn Kaye, Youth First’s CEO, said: ‘We believe that all young people have so much potential and with our support, we can empower them to build a future for themselves and Lewisham which we can all be proud of. At Youth First, we believe the best way to do this is based on an approach of giving staff and young people a major voice in how we are run.’