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Escape2Make: A Youth Charity that is Truly Youth Led

Find out about E2M’s first full-time employee, Kyle McKenzie, 23, and his journey so far.

It’s always moving to hear why a youth charity has been founded. It goes straight to the heart when you see their ethics in practice and personified by an individual. When the individual making an impact and steering progress is a young adult, we would call that a win in every sense!

Introducing Kyle McKenzie, E2M’s now Production Executive, but let’s go back to where it all began.

At a recent Careers event at Lancaster and Morecambe College, I met Kyle and Lucy. Conversations unfolded, and with the apt backdrop of an event linking young people to prospects, a story revealed that needs to be heard.

Escape2Make was founded four years ago to give young people a safe and inclusive place to make things, make friends, and make a difference. Founder Jenny Natusch, reached out to Lancaster University to offer a young person a placement opportunity within the charity.

Now introducing Lucy Hutchinson, advisor, and practitioner. Lucy began the all-important search and brought Kyle and Jenny together for the first of many catalytic chats.

Lucy recalls that first impression:

“Kyle really stood out as an applicant for the role because he was from a creative background and had done some great group projects. His skill set bolstered with his interest in helping others and building a connected community of creatives aligned perfectly with the E2M vision.”

Kyle was snapped up by Escape2Make.

Kyle was only 20 years old!

What happened next? Founder Jenny says it all:

“It’s exceptional what Kyle has achieved for E2M since he started in January 2019. It’s been remarkable to witness his journey from starting with us as a 20-year-old film student from Lancaster University and watch him thrive and grow into an incredible producer and youth worker. From day one it was clear that Kyle embodied E2M’s values around kindness, creativity, and enterprising skills, helping to produce 25 creative ideas in 2019. Kyle is an utterly inspiring role model to the E2M young participants and has helped to start and run film club, the Youth Board and created a truly safe, welcoming, all-inclusive atmosphere so 11-18-year-olds can truly thrive and find their passions purpose and like-minded people.”

His list of ticked off list of “to-dos” is astounding. Aside from the above he produced, and stage directed the launch event at The Dukes to an audience of 200. He helped support E2M during the pandemic by raising funds during a 24-hour livestream. Was hired as E2M’s Project Co-ordinator in Spring 2021 to help rebuild the charity after a year of lockdown inactivity. Formed the Youth Board who guide the charity through a youth led vision (*takes a deep breath, not done here yet, more to come…) Began the regular activity groups which still run today….AND FINALLY AND RIGHTFULLY NAMED E2M’S PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE in January 2022.

Phew! Let’s just take a seat and take that in, meanwhile, there is no stopping Kyle!

“What’s next? There are a few goals I have in the next few years at Escape2Make. I’d like to keep kickstarting new ongoing clubs, diversifying our content to make sure we have something for everybody, with my aim to have something happening every day of the week. Internally, I’d love to help our team grow, ideally with driven and dependable 18–25-year-olds; helping to keep our organisation truly youth led, as well as offering opportunities to those who may struggle with the pressure of finishing school, college, or university. I’d like to see E2M grow, and our 2023 programming be bigger and better than in 2022. Then 2024 to blow 2023 out of the water, and so on. I think it’s attainable and as we continue to grow, we continue learn and improve.”

Thanks to The Fore and The Rank Foundation we have been able to secure Kyle’s role as a Production Executive for 3 years and he is now co-ordinating all our delivery and recruiting and inspiring other young people and ensuring the E2M values and vision are passed on to all involved.

E2M has an ambitious vision, and we need courageous, committed young people with drive to make it happen. It’s amazing what young people can do when you give them meaningful opportunities that they have their heart in and truly let go and trust them to do a good job. Kyle is an remarkable example of this.

Not only has Kyle worked from youth placement to become E2M’s first full-time member of staff, but he has also realised an environment where we can look on as friendships blossom, shy teens find their voice, people who doubted themselves make something they’re proud of and young people find their tribe.

Thank you, Kyle, from the team and all the young people whose lives are being touched by the transformative work you are doing. Thank you for striving to make E2M truly youth led.

Thank you for….

“BEING THE REASON, SOMEONE FEELS WELCOMED, SEEN, HEARD, VALUED, LOVED AND SUPPORTED”

Find out more about what we do and how you can get involved by visiting www.escape2make.org

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