It's great to sometimes get the opportunity to watch the penny drop, as they see how their lives can be different.
The Wiston Lodge staff team is ably led by Managing Director Jonny Sutherland.
Jonny was promoted to Managing Director in April 2015, having been Programmes Manager at Wiston Lodge since 2003 when it was still part of the YMCA’s portfolio. Previously, his job was to approach new groups and liaise with current groups up to the point where they arrive at Wiston Lodge. He helped to design these programmes, set up instructors for them, and made sure everything ran smoothly. He is also involved with staff training of groups working with young disadvantaged people.
Before he came to Wiston Lodge, Jonny worked for the Airborne Initiative with high tariff young offenders. The youth groups that attend Wiston Lodge programmes are not quite so challenging, and Jonny finds it rewarding to be able to effect a change in these kids’ lives in a relatively short time.
Jonny has noticed a difference post-YMCA, both in the team at Wiston Lodge, and in the groups that come here;
‘We have more autonomy, but no financial safety net, which is both scary and fulfilling. Over the year, we have attracted more investment than in the previous nine years. There has been a change in attitude with the groups too. They feel more ownership of their programmes, and more aware that they can effect a change.’
One of the challenges that Jonny faces in his bid to attract new groups is the remoteness of the location. It is a strength in that it is removed from all the distractions of city life, providing an island of peace for the groups to work in. However, it can be difficult to entice people out of the cities, and perhaps out of their comfort zones.
Our current focus is to bring in new groups. About 80% of Wiston Lodge’s custom is returning groups, but it is vital for our continued growth and development to bring in new people, and Jonny hopes to engage with youth in local communities, going to some of the outlying villages, and bringing them back to Wiston Lodge for Personal, Social & Emotional Development (PSED) work. He also hopes to vary the range of programmes on offer to include crafts like wood work, through the summer.