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YHA charity leaders’ walk delivers new relationships, projects & shared learning

Melanie May | 2 December 2022 | News

YHA charity leaders walk

YHA (England & Wales) recently brought together 20 charity leaders in the outdoors, as part of its commitment to reach five million young people by 2025 and connect them to opportunities in nature.

Sarah Vibert, CEO of NCVO, and Lizzie Glithero-West, Chief Executive of The Heritage Alliance, were amongst leaders who joined YHA Chief Executive James Blake at YHA South Downs in Sussex for a four-mile walk.

The Leaders’ Walk is one of a number of in person and online meetings YHA has orchestrated with charities, groups and organisations since the launch of its 10-year strategy in 2020.


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Within the strategy, YHA acknowledged that it was only through collaboration across the charitable sector that would enable it to achieve its vision of ending ‘the inequity that means some children have never been to a beach, visited a museum or rolled down a hill.’

As part of its commitment to promoting collaboration across the charity and not-for-profit sectors, YHA is now looking to work with charity sector networks to see how it can run walks for charity leaders to connect.

Most recently, YHA collaborated with five not-for-profit outdoor education providers (Access Unlimited) to deliver the ground-breaking Generation Green project that reached more than 115,000 young people in just 16 months.

James Blake, Chief Executive of YHA (England & Wales) who led the walk said:

“Normally resilient leadership teams are facing a real risk of burnout as they look to a future full of never-ending challenges. As costs rise, sharing services, spreading costs and benefiting from economies of scale becomes much more compelling, and this walk allowed us to talk informally and make meaningful connections with each other.


“Being in the outdoors together took us all away from the daily stress of leading organisations to working out how we will all generate income and widen our impact, which has never been as pressing as in our current economic climate.


“The Leaders’ Walk has led to a range of new relationships, projects and shared learning that was as valuable as any board room meeting but with the added benefit of modelling the value of the outdoors to our own staff.”

Lizzie Glithero-West commented: 

“As organisations advocating for the value of place and connectivity, there’s nothing like being regularly out in the field (literally) to experience this ourselves. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been scattered around homeworking environments, plugged into zoom with the chance for informal conversation limited. It was a real joy to be part of YHA’s Festival of Walking which provided a chance to network with a set of inspiring leaders in the outdoors. It was such a relaxed and effective way to make new connections as we all moved around swapping walking partners throughout the route. What a great idea – and I returned refreshed with a new address book of interesting people to connect to our work and aspirations to model the initiative elsewhere.”

Sarah Vibert added:

“During the walk I met leaders across the voluntary and public sector, and conversations, while walking side-by-side, are often richer than those face-to-face or online.  There was also the added bonus of modelling working practices that are good for physical and mental health. I’d love to see more networking follow this format.”

Leaders of charities and not-for-profit organisations who would like to get involved and make connections, can find out about forthcoming dates and locations for YHA’s Leaders’ Walks in 2023 by emailing wa*****@yh*.uk