Raleigh International in 2020

18th December 2020

As 2020 ends, CEO Julian Olivier reflects on the challenges and opportunites of 2020, shares news of the exciting changes at Raleigh International, and highlights the urgent youth-led action to come in 2021.

2020 was not what many of us expected. It is difficult to imagine the hardship that so many have had to endure during this year. I hope you, your family, loved ones and communities have remained safe and well. I speak for our entire global family when I offer support and compassion to those who have faced painful moments and difficulties this year.

While it has been a challenging year for Raleigh International and the young people and communities we work with, we end 2020 with optimism and positivity for the future. 2020 has also been a busy year. We never stopped looking for new, innovative ways to better represent and support young people. We have achieved a lot and laid the foundations for an ambitious 2021. I have been inspired to see everyone – staff, volunteers, alumni and supporters – rallying together.

Our programmes in 2020.

Our international volunteering programmes have remained closed for most of 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In March, we cancelled all programmes and returned volunteers home. This is the first time we have ever had to close our international programmes on such a scale. The safe return of everyone in a week-long, 24-hour effort is something we can be proud of. We are committed to safely relaunching international volunteering as soon as global conditions allow.

However, our vital work with young people has also continued in a number of other ways. In the UK and Nepal, we launched our first ever fully online programme, supporting young people to develop the skills needed to run online action focused on helping groups impacted by the pandemic. In Tanzania, we recruited more young Tanzanians to monitor development work through technology and increase accountability through community engagement. Young Tanzanians have also been working in partnership with business to spread good hygiene practices and deliver innovative interventions which will reduce disease.

In Nepal, Tanzania, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, young people continued taking action on the climate emergency through our programmes. They are developing and will launch campaigns which seek to promote good environmental behaviours, reverse deforestation, fight for zero waste, and create green jobs. Prior to the pandemic, young alumni from our national societies also took part in a global exchange where they developed the skills to boost their green behaviour change campaigns and share their knowledge.

Tomorrow is too late: our global youth consultation.

Between February and June, we ran an ambitious global consultation with over 100 young people. We wanted to understand the views, concerns and priorities of this current youth generation so we can support their ambitions. The findings, published in Tomorrow Is Too Late, provide a unique insight into the hopes and fears of young people, and their experiences of the pandemic. They show that young people know exactly the world they want to live in and the changes that must happen to create it. They also showed us how we need to change to better support young people and to help them build a global movement to create the world they want to see.

A new strategy and new priorities for 2021.

To help us respond to the consultation, and the competing challenges of the pandemic and climate crisis, we created a new rapid strategy for 2020-21. Now Is The Moment helps us realise young people’s vision for our organisation and meets the unique challenges and opportunities we face. It puts young people at the centre of deciding and delivering our work. The strategy also sets out our new mission and vision, and commits us to creating an organisation that is truly representative and inclusive of our diverse global community.

As we begin to deliver our new strategy, we have worked tirelessly to ensure we can launch exciting new projects in early 2021. We have been preparing a new youth-led global environmental campaign called Action Not Excuses. It will mobilise hundreds of thousands of young people in practical environmental action to address the climate emergency and help drive the green recovery from Covid-19. We are also building a new online community platform to connect, train and inspire young people across the world in green leadership to help make change happen together.

We are getting ready to start our first UK volunteering programme in 2021. It will support UK young people from a range of backgrounds – particularly those often excluded from volunteering – to take urgent action to address the climate and biodiversity emergency, help their communities, and develop their leadership skills and confidence.

Thank you and stay safe.

None of the projects in 2020, or our vital plans 2021, are possible without the continued support of our amazing young volunteers and alumni. I want to thank you for supporting Raleigh International during these difficult times.

Despite the challenges, I reach the end of my first year leading this incredible organisation believing there is a reason to be optimistic and positive: this generation of young people. They will change the world. They want action not excuses. They know tomorrow is too late to address our shared global problems. We are ready to support them. We hope you stand with us.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our cause and vision. With my thoughts and best wishes to you, your family, loved ones and communities. Stay safe.

Julian Olivier
CEO, Raleigh International