Last Friday saw the departure, on to greater things, of Hannah Smith, who for the last year has been a simply brilliant member of the Hope team, supporting me on governance, and more recently, helping co-ordinate the administration of the organisation as a whole. She will be sorely missed but we know she will go on to do great things on refugee and migrant rights in her new role, a subject equally dear to Hope.
Hannah’s contribution to Hope, along with her predecessor in a paid intern role, Toby Murray, is a fine illustration of the power of youth. In my now very long career in charity and other public sector settings I have had the opportunity to learn from, be inspired by and enjoy the contribution of a long line of brilliant young people, who filled opportunities we created in each setting to bring in new talent and give it opportunities to grow and prosper. Its a source of real pride to see each one, when the time was right, move onwards and upwards and do good or great things for society and the community – the only purpose for me in going to work each day.
As an older person I of course value the brilliant contribution of older people in the workforce and Hope’s workforce offers diversity on the age of its staff; but I just wanted in this blog to give a little recognition of the unique energy and enthusiasm that young people bring. Whilst lacking the maturity and experience older people have, the young are often marked by a purity and hope that as you get older, if you don’t nurture it, you may lose, and the result is you can repeat the same mistakes created by the patterns and experiences you have had. That’s why we need a diverse workforce that reflects young and old.
Another image seen above of an even younger person re-inforced this perception. The image of Greta Thunberg sailing towards New York filled me with hope about the power of youth. It is easy to be sentimental or even naive about these things, but the iconography of this image, of the city of so much power and importance and myth and this young woman heading for it, is inspiring. In this image, in some sort of way, I felt that what we were seeing was a child, with no special powers, but yet also a visionary, committed young woman with a purity and simplicity of message, coming literally to save the world. We may need simplistic, pure messages, brought to us by children, to overcome the horrible problems of climate change, and even perhaps poverty and homelessness, that older generations have failed to solve. So I welcome the unique contribution young people, across the ocean and nearer at home, bring.