Youth engagement advisory group

The youth engagement advisory group assists us in understanding the wider context of engaging young people. This enables us to plan and deliver effective, innovative programmes that match our strategic ambitions and align to national and regional policy.

Young volunteers arriving to work on an outdoor art project in Leeds Young workers arriving to work on an outdoor art project in Leeds

Established in 2013, the group has supported us in developing our strategy, assisted with cultural and organisational change, and helped us raise our profile across the sector. In addition, opportunities have been suggested by members for new partnership projects, collaborative funding applications, and shared marketing and communications campaigns. 

Our 2018 repositioning as a waterways and wellbeing charity provided a wealth of exciting opportunities for us and we extended the group’s membership to reflect this new focus. We believe life is better by water and our canals and rivers can offer a wide range of wellbeing benefits to individuals, communities and society more broadly.

Working with experts across a range of sectors and specialisms is helping us to realise these ambitions and make a real difference to people from all walks of life across England and Wales.

The group meets quarterly in central London. Membership of the group is voluntary and unsalaried, although reasonable travel expenses are paid and a lunch is provided at each meeting.

If you'd like to find out more about joining the group, please email us.

Louis speaking at an event Louis regularly speaks to our colleagues and volunteers about engaging young people

Meet the chair: Louis Howell

Louis is a dynamic and rounded professional with experience that spans the voluntary youth sector, education sector and the world of small business.

Today, he runs a marketing transformation company, co-runs an educational social enterprise and is a trustee and volunteer at two small London-based charities.

His work with us began when he worked on the Action Squads Programme, headed up by NCVYS, which engaged and supported young people in social action across the canal network. This partnership, combined with the fantastic relationship maintained with the team since then, has seen Louis come back regularly to train our colleagues and volunteers on the most effective ways of engaging and working with young people.

Since joining the youth engagement advisory group, Louis has also become a member of our council and the regional advisory board for London and the South East.

Ellie Alvarez

Ellie is currently working as the Operations and Project Coordinator for the #iwill campaign. She joined the campaign following her graduation from her Masters degree in Migration Studies from the University of Sussex. Prior to that, Ellie has received a B.A in French and Spanish at Cardiff University.

Ellie’s social action has focused on working with refugees and migrants. She is currently a volunteer for the South London Refugee Association as an advice volunteer. She has campaigned for better education for refugees, teaching and support work. Whilst at Cardiff University, Ellie ran a series of supper clubs in which refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff put on an evening of their own design. This combined Ellie’s passion of helping refugees and her love of food!

John Downes

John’s career has been dedicated to supporting young people and enabling them to shape their own futures. At Street Games, John is the head of Youth and Sport and the Area Director for the North East. John is responsible for creating the young volunteer and young advisors programmes, which have gone on to work with over 20,000 young people in becoming local leaders.

Currently John is a rugby league coach, governor of his local first school and recently joined the management group of the National Youth Safeguarding forum. Previously he was a trustee of NCVYS and MACC, the community sector infrastructure organisation for Manchester. 

Last date edited: 6 April 2021