An Update on our New Strategy

Ben Hilton

The social and educational landscape for young people is constantly changing.  

Because of this, there are questions that youth-focused charities like ReachOut need to ask ourselves: 

Why do we do what we do?  

Who do we do it for?  

How do we do it?  

That’s what we’ve been doing over the last few months – working with young people, their parents and carers, as well as teachers, volunteers and other stakeholders – to develop a new organisational strategy. Take a look at what they told us earlier in the year when we asked for their input. 

We’re not quite finished yet though, there’s more work to do. 

But we have made a number of decisions that will shape our programmes as we move into the next school year, leading to the launch of our new strategy in 2025.  

Here are a few of them: 

We’re going to be narrowing the criteria for the young people we work with.  

With resources limited, we want to make sure we’re working with young people for whom our interventions can do the most good, and to be crystal clear about what that looks like.  

We’re working to focus our support on 9 – 14-year-olds who go to school in the 20% most deprived UK communities.  

Our research indicates that these are young people who are particularly negatively impacted by social and economic factors, increasing their risk of poor educational outcomes and being in poverty when they’re older. It’s also where other school and extra-curricular opportunities are most limited.   

We’ll be working with them at a crucial, formative age where the right intervention can help unlock their character and confidence. 

We want to help them develop the socio-emotional building blocks they need to support improved attainment, reducing the gap with their more advantaged peers. Our support will help prepare young people to transition to, and take advantage of, the many other opportunities available to them at 14+.  

Our work will be underpinned by a focus on social and emotional skills development. 

Our projects will be underpinned by the Centre for Youth Impact’s Socio-Emotional Skills Development Framework. That means that, through their time with ReachOut, young people will work with their mentors and peers to go on a journey of experiential learning and development.  

Each young person will be able to safely step out of their comfort zone, reflect on their strengths, receive the support of a trusted adult, and build friendships and essential skills for their lives. We’ll do this through developing our own curriculum of activities, as well as helping them access career talks and workplace visits throughout the year.  

Our impact will be measured and evaluated through a framework from the Centre for Youth Impact. 

We’ll be testing our ideas to make sure they work.   

To achieve these goals, we’re going to be adapting the way we deliver our interventions to make them more targeted and impactful.  

We’ve got some ideas on how we want to do this, so during the 2024/25 school year, we’re going to be testing these ideas in our projects – evaluating and comparing their impact over time.  

For some projects, this might mean having fewer mentors, but ones who are able to devote more time to their mentees. 

In others, it might mean splitting a standard-length project into two separate cohorts to try and reach more young people with more intensive intervention.  

We’re also looking at the impact that things like changing the time of our sessions might have on mentee attendance and how focused they feel during their time with us.  

We want to ensure that any changes we make as part of our new strategy are backed up by clear evidence that they work. 

Whatever tests we’re putting in place next year though – we’ll be ensuring that the young people who take part have a fantastic ReachOut experience, with the same opportunities and activities available to them.  

What else? 

We want to guarantee that ReachOut is a thriving and dynamic organisation, well placed to develop and deliver the best possible services for the young people who need us most. This new strategy is our first step in doing that.  

Please do get in touch with any comments or concerns.  We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.  

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“At first, I was really hesitant to take on the Project Leader role, despite having mentored with ReachOut. However, with the support of the team I’ve really developed my skills. For example, at the Mentee Graduation, I stood up in front of 200 people and presented an award which is something I would never ever have been able to have done before, and isn’t an opportunity I could gain in my other situations.”

Amy McCutcheon, Project Leader at ReachOut Academy, Dean Trust Ardwick, Manchester.


“Being able to spend the summer working at Rede Partners, was an amazing experience. Whether it was working in HR or Finance, I learned so much about the world of private equity, made great connections with fantastic people and I got to learn first-hand what it would be like to work there! I really believe that I can go onto build the career I want now I’ve been a part for a workplace for real”

Victor Adekunle, 18 years old, ReachOut Ambassador, London


“When I first my mentee, she was very reluctant to participate in the sessions. Now, I see a completely different person! Her confidence has grown and she is happy to join in! She still has some self-doubt when it comes to academic work, but that’s what I hope to help her overcome, because she is a very bright person!

Through mentoring, I’ve learnt I’m a lot more patient than I realised. There will be days where she refuses to participate and those are the days that I really see the importance of the character strengths, for both the mentees and the mentors. It also makes it easier for the mentee to understand the character strengths, when I use them myself”

Myrtle, ReachOut Club mentor at Tufnell Primary School, London


“There are more distractions than ever outside of school, and the commitment of our students to attend ReachOut sessions is testament to the value they place on the relationships they foster there, and the challenge and enjoyment they provide.

ReachOut’s focus on communication skills and character development has become an important aspect of our provision of support for these students. The opportunity to relate to a positive role- model other than their usual teachers is key to the programme’s impact, and the evidence of this has been seen in the students’ attendance, resilience and to their overall progress across all the subjects in the school.”

Thomas Janvrin, Assistant Vice Principal at the Petchey Academy London