Stepping up to the role of CEO, Jamie Masraff
Introducing Jamie Masraff, the dedicated CEO leading OnSide, a UK-based charity committed to empowering young people by providing them access to exceptional spaces and outstanding youth work.
OnSide's primary goal is to support young individuals in leading positive and fulfilling lives, with a specific focus on those residing in areas facing significant challenges.
Jamie's journey to charity leadership has been unconventional, transitioning from corporate consultant to local authority leadership before ultimately making the conscious decision to shift sectors. Supported by his partner, he even accepted a pay cut to pursue his true calling. Joining the charity in 2017, Jamie has climbed the ranks at OnSide, assuming the role of CEO at the beginning of 2023. In our conversation with Jamie, we explore the unique trajectory of his career and delve into the inspiring work he spearheads at OnSide.
Jamie's initial role at OnSide focused on collaborating with business leaders, local councils, and community partners on to establish new Youth Zones across the country. His efforts bore fruit with the successful launch of OnSide's first three Youth Zones in London.
OnSide's story began over 130 years ago with the establishment of Bolton Lads and Girls Club in 1889. As one of the pioneering organisations in the North West providing a safe space for children and young people, the Club has become a haven for over 3,000 young individuals every week, operating 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. In 2006, the club approached serial entrepreneur Bill Holroyd to chair its board. Recognising its immense potential, Bill embarked on a visionary quest to replicate and expand the trailblazing Youth Centre model to other towns and cities across the country. This vision gave birth to the charity OnSide, with Bill leading the charge in developing Youth Zones nationwide.
OnSide actively raises crucial funds to construct state-of-the-art Youth Zones in some of the UK's most disadvantaged areas. These Youth Zones serve as comprehensive youth centres, staffed by a dedicated team of professionals who wholeheartedly commit themselves to supporting young individuals. The overarching objective is to help young people unlock their full potential, develop essential life skills, build confidence, and nurture ambitious aspirations.
Growing up in Edinburgh, Jamie's personal drive to create equal opportunities greatly influenced his educational pursuits, leading him to earn an MPhil in International Development from Oxford University. Early in his career, Jamie worked closely with local councils, actively involved in driving significant projects such as the construction of schools, libraries, and community facilities. Witnessing the profound and positive impact of Youth Zones on young people in local communities, Jamie became captivated by OnSide's mission.
Jamie emphasises the practical side of OnSide's work, outlining their ambitious plans to develop youth zones in Bristol, Grimsby, London (White City), Crewe, Preston, Salford, Essex - Thurrock, and Barnsley within the next three years. These new youth zones will provide incredible dedicated spaces for young people in those areas.
Thanks to the Youth Investment Fund, the UK government's flagship capital funding for new facilities, they have secured significant funding. However, Jamie acknowledges that there is still more to raise, particularly for the running costs of these youth zones. Their goal is to establish strong financial foundations by bringing together businesses and philanthropists in each local area to support their youth.
'We strongly believe that youth workers are incredible individuals and they play a vital role in equipping young people with the skills they need for future employment, instilling confidence, and resilience, and fostering aspirations for a better life.'