BEST IS YET TO COME

As Frank Sinatra sang “Best is yet to come. You think you’ve seen the sun. But you ain’t seen it shine“. This is how I feel, ready to move on from my role as IARS’ Director. 

Indeed, the years have passed! It was 2001, when, as a young migrant, I came up with the IARS idea, as I felt that I needed to have voice for matters that involved me. Then, I very quickly realised that my voice was louder when I joined other voices … and there were many. Almost 20 years later, and I can proudly say that apart from my son, Tommy, IARS is the proudest life achievement. And it is on this high, Sinatra note that I want to pass on the good work that we have done to a new Director, while I watch IARS with care and love. It is time to let the hand go! So, if you are up for a challenge, the deadline for applications is 26 August!

THE JOURNEY

I’ve always believed that if you have a dream, the only barrier from achieving it is you. I left home young and found myself in all sorts of situations and available “options”. Some of these options saw me as a “marginalised young person”, and wanted to support me to get out of my disadvantage. I ignored them, as this is not how I saw myself. Others, pushed me hard … they gave me “tough love” and made me achieve what they saw in me as talents and strengths. I worked with them, and when I was content, I felt that it was time that I give back the same tough love. This journey led me to setting up IARS, which stands for evidence-based change that is bottom-up and is founded upon three principles: (1) User and civic participation (2) Restorative justice and dialogue (3) Individual Empowerment and Responsibility.  The journey was not always easy, and I can say I have grown and learned so much over the years. 

IARS’ FUTURE

IARS could not be in a stronger position. It is recognised as an international force for change, and has at least 20 live projects of local, national and international scope. Our finances have grown from the £500 that I donated when I set it up to almost £1m turnover, with secure funding for at least three years. 

IARS is more than a charity and an institute. It is an idea and a paradigm for all those young people and individuals who have been told that they need to act and look in a certain way, or be from a specific background to achieve in life. With no business plan, money, CEO training or indeed family in the UK, all I needed was passion, ideas, hard work and a lot of friends. IARS’ mission and visions are needed now more than ever. The attitudes that lead to divisions, the continuous manifestation of power and the disengagement of communities are all reasons to keep our doors open. 

MY FUTURE

I have always said that I will close the IARS doors, go home and not push for more projects, when I know that we are living in a stronger and more inclusive society (hence IARS’ strapline). We are not there yet! Thus, I intend to continue supporting IARS as its Founder and fundraiser. After running the organisation for 20 years, it is now time to be directed by a new leader. This is a conscious choice that I am making for the benefit of IARS, as I truly believe it will make it even stronger and more prepared for the future. No organisation should be attached to one person.

I will mentor and support the new Director, while focusing more on my restorative justice and human rights work with my other non-profit NGO, Restorative Justice for All. I also want to be a better dad, and enjoy the few years that I have left before my son grows into a “lovely” teenager. I want to continue working with all the individuals and organisations that partnered with us, and indeed build more local, national and international allegiances to achieve our charitable aims.

MY THANK YOU

IARS was set up and was run exclusively by volunteers for years. I know that this is not an exception for charities, but I can only say a huge thank you to all those who believed in my dream and supported me. I am extremely grateful to my team and the trustees who worked with me to achieve where we are today. The organisation is still very much reliant on our interns, volunteers, donors and funders, and will continue to do so. I ask that you trust and support the new Director, as much as you supported me.

My gratitude cannot be expressed in this short note. I hope that I have raised to your expectations and delivered what I promised. I am an emotional character and it is not always easy to understand or work with me. However, I do hope that I have given back what I was offered when as young Theo moved to the UK, and which led me to be where I am today. The best is yet to come!

Dr. Theo Gavrielides

IARS Founder, July 2019

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EMBARGOED 00:01 TUESDAY 8 MARCH 2022 

We are Sculpt

IARS International Institute to operate as Sculpt

*Charity CEO available for interview – details in notes 

A UK-based youth charity today changes its operating name from the IARS International Institute to Sculpt. 

IARS is an international NGO that’s been working to empower young people to forge a fairer society for over 20 years. Their work is guided and evaluated by young people themselves.  

Over the last 20 years, IARS has delivered more than 70 successful projects that have addressed real problems that young people face, in areas such as: 

  • Gender discrimination 
  • Violence against women and girls 
  • Supporting young people to find work 
  • Creating green and sustainable business 
  • Promoting collaboration among young people across the world and much more. 

In 2021, with the world changing rapidly and opportunities for their work shifting, they decided to refresh their purpose and identity, and made the decision to rebrand as Sculpt. 

Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of Sculpt, said: 

‘We are delighted to launch our new brand that speaks to our aim to empower young people to shape their future.

‘We believe that many of today’s young people are facing unjust challenges – economically, environmentally and socially. A fair, sustainable society can only evolve if all young people have the opportunities, the confidence, the ambition and the skills to make their voices heard and propel change in their communities, irrespective of who they are or where they come from.  

‘Our rebrand, like our work, has been guided by research and by young people themselves. As an organisation we base our work on rigorously researched evidence and are led in our approach by our youth advisory board. Their voices and insight are critical to solving the right problems in meaningful ways.’  

 

Notes to editors:  

Dr. Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of The IARS International Institute is available for interview. Contact Claire directly on: director@iars.org.uk +44(0) 7833 224442  

Sculpt

www.sculptuk.org 

Sculpt is a UK-based charity providing research, training and work-experience opportunities that empower young people to shape their own futures and those of their communities. 

We work directly with young people, employers and professionals who support young people. All our work is guided by young people themselves and based on carefully researched evidence. We: 

  • Facilitate forums for young people to make their needs and their voices heard. 
  • Publish a magazine by young people to express their perspectives and encourage debate around public policy issues. 
  • Conduct research to uncover young people’s real needs and what works to empower and support them. 
  • Deliver training to build young people’s confidence, skills, ambition, resilience and sense of responsibility, so they can shape their futures and change their communities for the better, as leaders, social entrepreneurs and active participants in civic life. 
  • Deliver training for professionals who work with young people, drawing on our research and expertise. 
  • Engage with employers to facilitate work experience and employment opportunities for young people to develop skills and access diverse jobs. 
  • Facilitate international exchange opportunities to encourage and enable young people to experience and appreciate other cultures, perspectives and ways of life. 

We tackle disempowerment from three angles: working directly with young people to build confidence and skills and their voice, working with professionals who support young people, and working with employers to break down barriers to opportunity.