It feels like only yesterday that I joined Raleigh International. The last ten years have been one heck of a journey. We’ve climbed lots of mountains as an organisation and overcome a lot of challenges.
I joined Raleigh in 2007 because it brought together all of things that I was really passionate about: young people, education, internationalism and creating a sense of global solidarity to help make the world a better place. I have been able to bring together my experience from a whole range of jobs – including working at Unicef, working in the education sector and in communications – to ensure the organisation realises its full potential.
It’s taken quite a lot of resilience, courage and openness to different ways of thinking and working over the last decade from all of us to get Raleigh to where it is now. Part of that journey was finding the organisation unsure of what it should be. But by working closely with staff and alumni, and talking to our partners and young people we’ve been able to bring real clarity and focus to what we’re capable of and what we’re striving to achieve. That has been a wonderful thing to be part of. Raleigh now has a much clearer strategy and purpose – to create lasting change through youth.
We’re also engaging more young people than ever before and we are reaching a much wider range of backgrounds in the countries we’re working in and globally. We’re a broader, healthier organisation with a much clearer understanding and evidence of the change that can be achieved by working through youth.
We’ve proven we have ability as an organisation to step up and be a valued delivery partner within the International Citizen Service (ICS) consortium. Choosing to become part of the VSO-led consortium was the moment when Raleigh had to decide whether to create new programmes to deliver our development outcomes rather than only working through the Expedition which had defined us for thirty years. It was a true milestone, a real growing up moment for Raleigh. Since then we’ve also created more opportunities to work with and through in-country youth with local programming, for example, developing leaders for green growth in Tanzania and Nicaragua and conservation entrepreneurs in Malaysian Borneo.
I feel a sense of pride, honour and privilege to be part of an organisation with such passion, commitment and purpose. On a personal level I am also proud that both my children have volunteered through Raleigh. I saw first-hand the kind of development opportunities it gave them and it’s been a big part of them becoming the great people they are.
The future is bright for Raleigh but there is still so much we are working to achieve. We have more than 40,000 alumni globally in nearly 100 countries. So now we are looking at how we can harness that network and support our alumni to make a bigger impact at both a local and global level. Today’s young people have inherited a very challenging future with real opportunity but lots of risk – climate change, youth unemployment, the technology revolution. It’s going to take courage, initiative and resource for them to do a better job than previous generations. I think anything Raleigh can do to prepare and support them in this task is crucial, and we are well placed to do so. By utilising our strengths in this way, I think Raleigh will become a genuinely transformational organisation that delivers long lasting change.
Every day I am inspired by the very clear mission of what we as Raleigh are trying to achieve, and by the people that get behind it and want to be part of it. It’s hard to imagine anywhere else being as exciting and as interesting a place to work as Raleigh.