Youthworx is a youth media social enterprise that trains and employs young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in creative and commercial media production. Youthworx believes that creativity is to the spirit what food and shelter is to the body and that as much as we need a roof over our head and food on the table we also need to be creatively and purposefully engaged. Youthworx’s core goal is to support youth who are ‘at risk’ of homelessness. It does this by providing appropriate training options and dignified workplace opportunities.
Youthworx offers disadvantaged young people a pathway to a creative and recognised future by supporting them while they study for Cert II and Cert III in radio and videography, and then, should they want to, advance to the professional environment of Youthworx Media, a social enterprise film production business.
Youthworx (YWX) came to us in late 2017. Jon Staley, the Executive Manager was looking for advice and support in growing the social enterprise side of the business. He was looking for professional support himself, and also a way to spend more time on developing plans for the future and less time on day-to-day operations.
He used the money that SVPM provided to seed an assistant role which bought him some think time. Then the SVPM team through executive coaching, monthly meetings and hands-on advisory, worked with the YWX team to grow the business significantly. Our engagement supported Jon to develop his professional skills, gave him the confidence to commit to increasing studio space and fitting it out, as well as start a program of sales training and strategic planning. This culminated in YWX winning a large video job from a major government health agency in a commercial competitive tender process.
The impact SVPM has had on YWX is both tangible and intangible: tangible impact included the funding to hire a part time production assistant for Jon. This immediately allowed him to work on some strategic planning. Intangible impacts included the support the SVPM team gave to Jon in encouraging him make some tough decisions such as renting more studio space. We facilitated staff off-site meetings to encourage collaboration and create a psychologically safe place to work. We gave sales training to novice sales staff and helped them understand important aspects of job cost accounting to measure the profitability of various production types.
In 2017/18, 15 young people had accredited outcomes in the core training while the productions business made 84 commissioned films, ran 35 workshops and did 23 photography shoots. Through this period 14 young people experiencing marginalisation were employed to help deliver the services. This was followed up by strong growth in 2018/19 where a further 16 young people had accredited outcomes while the business produced 150 commissioned films, ran 37 workshops and did 20 photography shoots. In this period 21 young people with experiences of marginalisation were employed part time and a further 4 young people had work experience placements.
With COVID19, video shoots – the bread and butter of YWX – suddenly disappeared. As at June 2020 they are only just starting to recover, and there’s plenty of work to do to get back to the strength we had before. The Cert II and III courses were able to continue on-line for some students. The organisation’s soul is unwaveringly focused on opportunities for disadvantaged young people and that hasn’t changed… the funding hasn’t changed, and the market is still buoyant and ready to support social enterprises.
Despite the effects of COVID19, the YWX premise that everyone deserves a chance at the creative arts still stands, and the organisation will continue to refresh itself after this setback, working with SVPM; once an SVPM Investee, always part of SVPM.