Youth charities UK Youth and Ambition have announced that they have merged and are launching a consultation with members about its priorities for the future.
Ambition formally became a subsidiary of UK Youth last Friday when trustees signed the agreement. Changes include five UK Youth’s trustees joining the Ambition UK board.
For the time being both brands will continue to operate as independent charities, with both chief executives staying on, and there are no planned redundancies.
UK Youth has an income of £5.3m and employs around 70 staff, while Ambition UK has an income of £1.3m and 11 staff.
Both charities are membership bodies for local youth clubs. UK Youth represents nearly 5,000 groups and Ambition has around 150 members.
Anna Smee, chief executive of UK Youth, said the consultation process with members will help them to “understand what they would like” and that the current membership offer would be retained until the end of the financial year in March 2018, when they will look to merge membership.
“At that point we’ll also look at longer term branding issues,” she said.
Over 60 years of merger talks
Conversations about the possibility of merging have happened “on and off since the 1940s,” Emma Revie, chief executive of Ambition said.
But over the past year the charities have been consciously working more closely together and have built closer ties between the teams, making merger a “natural step”.
Both charities have similar origins. UK Youth started out as the National Organisation of Girls' Clubs and Ambition was originally the National Association of Boys’ Clubs.
Revie joined Ambition in September 2016 and said: “When I started meeting people in the sector one of the first questions after hello was ‘when are you merging?’”.
She said there were “various reasons” for the merger not happening in the past and that the focus of the past year was “on collaborating really well and becoming each other’s biggest champion” and not competing.
‘Making a bigger difference’
By coming together they hope to be able to make more of a difference.
Smee said: “We have a shared commitment to empowering young people and working in partnership with local, regional and national youth organisations to deliver high quality services that meet their needs. This puts us in a unique position to respond to the challenges young people face today, including low levels of social mobility that prevent so many from reaching their full potential.
“Together we will be able to amplify the voices of more young people and respond to their needs by forging wider partnerships to deliver joined up services in local communities.”
She added that the merger will enable them to “take more risk” and be “more innovative”.
The move was welcomed by the minister for civil society, Tracey Crouch, who said: "UK Youth and Ambition have both done fantastic work supporting young people across the country and I am confident that this partnership will only strengthen their offering. Together I'm sure they will continue to lead the way championing youth voices, and supporting innovation and partnerships."