The Journey: 90th anniversary

An exciting decade

YHA strategy

At YHA, our work has always been about connecting people and places. About granting access to nature and the outdoors for the people who need it most. About providing the opportunity for adventure. About unlocking potential. About changing lives.

When we sat down in 2019 to develop a new 10-year strategy – one which would build on our achievements to date and set in place an ambitious future – none of us could have guessed at what 2020 had in store. The challenges, not just to ourselves as an organisation but to society as a whole, have been like nothing else before. For the first time in our 90-year history, our entire network of hostels was closed.

It’s still too early to predict how the next few years will take shape, but our commitment to our core values remains immovable. And the same drive, hope and determination that helped our founders to overcome adversity in the past will continue to be the force behind everything we do.  

As we look to the future, therefore, equity of access to the outdoors remains firmly at the heart of what we stand for. For too long, where our National Parks and green spaces are concerned, there have been uncomfortable truths around race, class, and people with health barriers.

We aim to help change the story.

“YHA will play a key part in society’s recovery. Helping both our existing users and those new to YHA to access the restorative power of nature, heritage and travel. At a time when we have learned to value human interaction more than ever, YHA will find safe ways for people to come together and share places, spaces and experiences. Because that is the joy of being human.” Anita Kerwin-Nye, Director of Strategy & Engagement

We want to reach more people than ever, enriching as many lives as possible and reaffirming ourselves as a leading national charity and social enterprise.

Our 10 strategic priorities:

  1. To ensure that all means all, increasing the scale and breadth of our reach and ensuring that YHA is for everyone.
  2. To increase access to stays away from home and improve connections to nature, outdoors, heritage and culture – recognising that we provide unique opportunities for the many not just the few.
  3. To improve physical and mental wellbeing by providing activities and programmes and by supporting people to take their own action using our hostels as a base.
  4. To develop life skills and employability for our staff, volunteers and the young people that we work with.
  5. To contribute to social cohesion, encouraging different sectors of the community who visit us to learn from and with each other.
  6. To maintain a viable network of quality hostels that matches our strategic ambitions.
  7. To draw on the best quality models across charity, social enterprise, hospitality and work with young people.
  8. To support growth by continuing to generate an annual cash surplus that supports our strategic intent, based on social enterprise principles.
  9. To connect people to nature, recognising that the risks to the environment and to the world and its population are a real and immediate threat.
  10. To build support for the hostelling cause – drawing on our 90-year history to establish the importance of hostelling for all today.

Our five-year targets:

  1. For 5 million people of all ages to stay with YHA.
  2. To be certain that access for all means all.
  3. To ensure at least 2.5 million children and young people have an overnight stay with YHA.
  4. To ensure at least 250,000 of these children and young people are those with the most challenging lives.
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