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  • Writer's pictureKids Kabin

Looking forward to flying solo: a year as part of Pilotlight

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

You may remember we shared with you some brilliant news last year when we were a winner at The Weston Charity Awards. That meant we got to be part of the incredible Pilotlight 360 programme, a 10-month mentoring scheme in which charities work with a group of business leaders called Pilotlighters.

Now our time with Pilotlight is coming to an end, our Chief Officer Will Benson wanted to share a bit about his experiences on the scheme, and what it will mean for Kids Kabin's ongoing development.

He said: "I'm writing this on my way back from the Pilotlight meeting in London, where, despite a two-hour train delay on the way, it was great to catch up with the team in person after eight months of monthly post-pandemic Zoom meetings!

"At the start of the programme, we were linked with a project manager and four Pilotlighters; we worked together to set aims for the year. Ours were to clarify the strategic direction for Kids Kabin up to 2026, to review our governance to make sure we're the best we can be, and to improve the ways in which we measure and demonstrate the positive effect Kids Kabin has on children and young people, their families and the communities in which they live.

"A key aspect of the Pilotlight programme is to review the organisation's strengths and weaknesses, so we carried out a thorough check of everything we do here at Kids Kabin, and how we do it. This was useful because it showed us where we might be able to do better, like making sure people from the wide range of communities we work in get the chance to tell us how we're doing and help shape our future direction.

"Our new strategic plan is now in place and as part of that, we're hoping to increase the number of children and young people we work with each year from 1,400 to 2,000 by 2026. We'll do this by piloting and developing our support in communities in the region we don't yet work with. To achieve this, we knew we needed to increase capacity, and we are very pleased that our Newcastle Programme Lead, Laura, has now joined us.

"Thankfully, we're not quite flying solo following the support from Pilotlight, and we'll continue to have review meetings with the team. The next time will be in January, when we'll update the Pilotlighters on our plans to work in new North East locations, and show our impact better.

"It's been brilliant to set aside time every month that is dedicated to looking at Kids Kabin's future plans and long-term strategy. It's difficult but very worthwhile in the long run to spend time on really detailed planning and sharing this across the organisation.

"It was also great to get an outside perspective on Kids Kabin to ask us the questions we may not have thought of, and benefit from the experience of people who have worked with many, many charities before us. We're looking forward to updating the Pilotlighters on our progress in January, so if you've got any feedback you'd like me to share with them, get in touch!"

Will's personal highlight from being part of the programme was when the Pilotlighters visited Newcastle to see one of Kids Kabin's centres in action, meeting young people, volunteers, parents and staff.

He said: "It was amazing that they took the time to travel to get a real feel for the project.

"A big thank you to the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Pilotlight Charity. Kids Kabin is a stronger charity as a result of being involved.

"During our 30th year next year, we'll be looking outwards across the North East region and will be running three pilot programmes in new locations. The work with Pilotlight has helped us clarify our future direction, which we hope will benefit hundreds more young people over the next 10 years!"

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