Thursday 13 June 2024
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Nottingham: Base 51 Youth Charity CEO departs after eight years

Joanne (Jo) Jepson, who has served as Chief Executive Officer of young people’s charity Base 51 for 8 years, is departing the charity in August 2024 to pursue her lifelong passion of working with those affected by substance abuse.

Jo joined Base 51 in 2016 as Deputy CEO under Janet Lewis, who was the CEO of Base 51 for over 25 years. Following Janet’s retirement in 2020, Jo took the reins of the youth charity. Base 51 has been providing support for 11-25 year olds in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire for over 30 years, with a focus on mental health and reducing social isolation through counselling and youth club programmes.

During her time at Base 51, the charity encountered significant challenges, including the Covid-19 Pandemic. Jo transitioned youth club sessions and counselling to online, ensuring that young people struggling with their mental well-being during lockdown received support throughout. In 2022, Nottingham City Council announced funding cuts to the charity, meaning that Jo and the Board of Trustees had to make difficult decisions to sustain the charity whilst seeking new funding opportunities to be able to continue providing essential services to the region’s most vulnerable young people.

Throughout these difficult periods, Jo’s steady leadership and person-centred approach not only helped Base 51 survive but also enabled it to build a platform for a thriving future

Jo’s unwavering commitment to the welfare of young people has been key to her success as CEO of Base 51, putting the wellbeing of young people at the core of every decision. During her tenure the charity launched Evolution Plus a project which works with those affected by violent crime and supported over 100 young people last year, and Safe Space that works with those at risk of criminal/sexual exploitation and modern slavery. Jo was also instrumental in the introduction of the Base 51 Training Academy, providing qualifications in Youth Work and Counselling.

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In April 2024, the charity relocated to Peachey Street in Nottingham city centre, however, the long-term vision is for Base 51 to move to a specially designed, purpose-built youth centre in the redeveloped War Rooms site in Beechdale in the coming years, ensuring a sustainable future for the charity – Jo has been the driving force behind finding new premises and organising the relocations.

Jo said “ The time has come for me to move on to new challenges, I’ve had the most fantastic eight years in Nottingham with Base 51, it’s been an incredible leadership journey and I’m so privileged to have been in this role that makes such a difference to the lives of vulnerable young people, working with so many passionate professionals whose dedication to quality and ethics is unrivalled. Some of my highlights definitely include the development of the Base 51 Training Academy, fundraising events and developing a team of highly resilient and compassionate managers! The future of Base 51 is bright, exciting and ready to welcome in new energy and ideas!”

As Base 51 bids a bittersweet farewell to Jo, they celebrate her contributions over the last 8 years. Jo’s impact on Base 51 and the broader community will undoubtedly be felt for years to come, and staff and volunteers wish Jo the best of luck as she continues to make a difference in her new role, advocating for and supporting those affected by substance abuse in the Sheffield area.

Peter Morley, Chair of the Board of Trustees said “I wish Jo all the very best in her move to pastures new. Jo has been a rock at Base 51, guiding us through a difficult few years in terms of funding and accommodation. We’ve come out the other side in a stronger position and in new premises. This is mostly down to Jo’s determination, dynamic and effective leadership, and her steady hand. Jo will be sorely missed at Base 51, both personally and professionally.”

The Board of Trustees at Base 51 have begun the search for a new CEO who can build on Jo’s accomplishments and drive the charity forward. The incoming leader will continue the momentum Jo has established, including the anticipated move to the War Rooms site in the next few years.

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