We need to champion third sector as a career

Tim frew

YouthLink chief executive Tim Frew speaks to TFN on his new job and what needs to be done to attract more young people to work in the sector

18th March 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Following in the footsteps of a long-serving chief executive can be daunting - but Tim Frew is well placed to take the helm at YouthLink Scotland.

Tim stepped up to take over the top job at Scotland’s national youthwork agency having worked for the organisation for 16 years, most recently as deputy chief executive to the outgoing Jim Sweeney, who left after 12 years in the job.

Having started in December, he is getting used to his new role and has been making his way round the country meeting YouthLink’s more than 100 member organisations.

“It’s been great, a whirlwind of activity and engagement so far,” Tim told TFN. “I’ve been up in Orkney for the first time, a lot of my time has been spent going round meeting our members. And a big part of the job is carrying on, it’s business as usual. Especially when I’m replacing someone who was here for so long.

“I see it as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. I was working with Jim and have been walking alongside him. In regards filling Jim’s shoes, I’ll need trainers as the pace of change is so fast! Everything in society is changing so quickly and you need to be prepared for that.”

Tim starts at a time when the third sector is looking to increase its diversity, with boosting the numbers of younger staff, board members and volunteers at the forefront of recruitment policies for many organisations.

And he thinks there is work to do to promote the variety of opportunities the sector can offer to prospective recruits.

“I think it’s absolutely vital that the third sector is seen as a viable career for young people,” he said.

“If we look at things like the I Will initiative, a UK-wide campaign which aims to encourage and empower more young people to make a difference to their community. Things like this can be a key thread for getting young people engaging in volunteering and social action, a route to employability.

“We should be looking at what opportunities there are within the sector to get young people volunteering and giving them real experience based opportunities.”

Tim has a range of short term and long term plans for the organisation, but is keen to stress that young people need to be at the heart of its strategic objectives.

“We need to think about what we mean to young people. We want to be focused on working for, with and about young people. That’s who we are here to serve and to work alongside.”

Frew stresses that although he believes those in power are keen to work with young people and help them to flourish, this must be backed up by continued funding for youth projects to ensure that support is there.

“We recognise it is a very challenging atmosphere for all local authorities. It’s not my position to comment on how much local government is receiving in funding, or how much it has lost.

“What I recognise is there’s an aspiration to ensure young people have a voice and are recognised, Scotland has to be the best place for young people to grow up. But this comes at a time of austerity - there is a disconnect there. For example, who supports the young people to attend the Scottish Youth Parliament? It’s youth workers. But they can’t continue to do that if they are not there.”