OPEN Board of Trustees are delighted to announce that from November 1st 2023 they will be the first youth-led charity in Shetland. OPEN successfully received charitable status in July and have now completed the transition from being a project of Voluntary Action Shetland to OPEN SCIO.
Emma Coutts, OPEN Chair says “I feel so honoured to be the Chair of Shetland’s first youth-led charity and I’m so excited to see what comes in the next years!”
OPEN was set up in 2011 as part of the Shetland Youth Information Service and became a project of Voluntary Action Shetland in 2013.
A review of Voluntary Action Shetland in 2021 highlighted that sustainable projects could become independent organisations. OPEN employed the organisation development lead to work alongside young people to explore transitioning into an independent and fully youth-led charity.
Wendy Hand, Deputy and Facilities Manager, Voluntary Action Shetland says “We at VAS are so proud to see the young people, staff and project flourish. I have had the privilege of working closely with the team for the last 10 years and I am honoured to hand over to the new youth board”
OPEN’s ethos and culture has always been to involve young people in the design, delivery and development of the project. Young volunteers aged 14-25 take a lead in our peer education project, mentoring other young people, working on the research teams and bringing their ideas to the organisation! Almost all of our staff started out as volunteers, progressing into their roles.
OPEN will support decision making roles for young people as leaders in the community, youth-led peer research will build skills and evidence to identify local priorities and engage strategic partners. Shetland’s young people will feel more connected, valued, empowered and heard on issues that matter to them through the co-design of new influencing and leadership projects.
Una Murray, Project Coordinator says “OPEN has pioneered to provide opportunities and support for young people to take a lead and achieve great things. I am privileged to be employed by young people and I am excited for the future of OPEN.”
We are grateful to the Shetland Charitable Trust and all our funders for their ongoing support and excited to have secured four years funding from Esmee Fairburn of £200,000 for the organisations development.
OPEN envisions a community where young people take a lead and feel valued, it is our mission to make Shetland a better place for young people to thrive.