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Annual Report 2018/19

HR and workforce development summary

Our current workforce

Youth First is committed to employing staff and using volunteers who are:

  • Highly professional and natural role models.
  • Have high aspirations for the young people they serve.
  • Never give up on individual young people when difficulties arise.
  • Prioritise safeguarding, early intervention and risk assessment.

Staff makeup:

  • As at 1 September 2018, Youth First employed 60 people on a permanent basis. This dropped to 51 as of March 31st.
  • This was 28.2FTE and 32.6FTE respectively.
  • Of these 37 are women and 23 are men. 48 are from a BAME community.
  • Management/office-based staff represent 11% of the organisation whereas frontline i.e. Youth and play workers represent the other 89%.

Recruitment and retention:

  • In 2018/19 Youth First ran four recruitment campaigns for various posts. From these, seven new staff were appointed. Over the same time period six staff left the organisation.
  • From September 2019 to March 2020, Youth First ran three recruitment campaigns and from these seven new staff were appointed.  Sixteen staff left the organisation over the same period. 
  • We continue to hold an ever changing pool of youth workers to undertake work during peak times such as school holidays.

Recruitment is an ongoing process and has at times been challenging. Although this is in line with issues across the entire sector - locally and nationally. We are constantly reviewing our recruitment practices and assessing the success of the advertising channels for all posts, but especially youth and play.  Adverts were placed in a wide range of media outlets and via colleges and universities as well as with partners.


The number of volunteers has increased throughout the year aided by the work of our Volunteering, Alumni and Parenting Co-ordinator who has improved the application process via the YF website.  Currently eight out of ten sites have regular volunteers, six of which have two or more volunteers.  Volunteer applications increased largely due to our now online streamlined application process and a focus on promotional activity.

Investing in people

The overall aim of our workforce strategy is to recruit, reward and develop great employees across all functions. We have put in place a number of new and amended processes, practices and policies:

  1. Employee Excellence Award Scheme – This scheme was piloted in 2019 in order to reward employees that had gone over and above their role.  Nominations by colleagues resulted in six awards being presented to employees at the AGM in May 2019.  Learning from the pilot is being incorporated into the next round of the scheme due to take place in May 2020.
  2. Our learning and development offer has continued to increase including the continuation of Inset Weeks which this year took place in May 2019. We also offered additional training for Adventure Play workers in July and October 2019. The subjects of most training is chosen in consultation with staff to ensure topics are task relevant. Alongside the Inset programme we continue clinical supervisions for Seniors, promote year round opportunities from partners and continually evaluate where there may be gaps in learning and look at how best to meet these. The latter includes partnerships with LBL, Voluntary Action Lewisham, London Youth, London Play and others.
  3. Six staff undertook NEBOSH – health and safety diploma
  4. As a thank you to our employees the board agreed to recognise and reward the work of the staff including an additional annual leave day and contribution towards two socials for employees in the Autumn and at Christmas.
Putting the next generation first


  • The greatest challenge ahead is carrying out the restructure which will be required to meet the change in delivery to meet the new LBL core contract and our ambition to create a single tier workforce in terms of T&Cs
  • Alongside this recruitment remains a challenge, especially for support youth and play workers. We do not believe this is related to the rate of pay which seems to compare favourably with the sector. Instead we believe that there is a reduced market of professional youth workers as a result of ongoing austerity measures. Alongside this it is possible that Youth First’s own fiscal insecurity is deterring candidates from applying to posts.

Over the next year we will seek solutions continuing our ethos of involving our staff to develop these. Our HR department has also commenced work on a comprehensive workforce strategy with a skills audit initiated. A significant development has been developing new ways of working in the context of CV19 including adapting our technology and communications to enable working from home and the creation of a virtual offer. This will provide us with no end of learning for our future.