About this case study
This case study is based on a talk by James Blake, Chief Executive of the Youth Hostel Association, on behalf of Clore Leadership, for the Rebuilding Heritage Programme. It was one of three covered in the webinar ‘Values Led Leadership for Change‘, which you can watch here.
The YHA in a nutshell
The YHA aims to improve the physical and mental health and life skills of its visitors, particularly through residentials connecting them with nature and heritage. Open to all, it especially wants to reach young people with challenging lives.
Of the 150 YHA sites across England and Wales, many are situated in national parks, and much of its accommodation is in heritage buildings, including medieval castles, stately homes and an Elizabethan manor.
In pre-pandemic 2019, it attracted two million stays from one million guests, 140,000 members, 1,000 young volunteers and 3,000 school trips.
Creating a New Vision and Mission
Reaching the children who have never ‘been to a beach, visited a museum or rolled down a hill…’
In 2020, after some years of thinking and consultation, the YHA launched its new vision and mission:
Our vision: Everyone has access to the benefits of adventure, for the first time and a lifetime.
Our mission: To enrich the lives of all, especially young people, by providing brilliant hostel stays and experiences that improve physical health, mental wellbeing and life skills.
Underpinning this, was the determination to seek more opportunities for collaboration – so that in seeking to end by 2030 the inequality that means that some children have never ‘been to a beach, visited a museum or rolled down a hill’ it would have allies working on a scale to make that possible. It also aimed to better balance the need to make revenue against those aspirations. These values shaped its choices as it aimed to create a more flexible business model for the pandemic.