Thank you for your interest in the role of Director of Strategy and Engagement.

This is an exceptional opportunity to help shape the future of YHA.

I have had the pleasure of leading YHA for nine months, following a career at senior level in central and local government. As a lifelong YHA supporter and previous Trustee I knew YHA reasonably well. But since I arrived I have been struck by the enormous potential of this wonderful and unique organisation.

YHA transforms young lives forever through travel and real adventure. We’re a trading charity and, to support our mission, we operate a network of more than 160 hostels throughout England and Wales. We provide high quality, affordable accommodation in a highly competitive budget accommodation sector – competing with companies ranging from Premier Inn to Airbnb.

We welcome all to enjoy our rural, coastal and city locations; since 1930 YHA has been for everyone. We believe that every bed, in every hostel, on every night of the year, can make a positive difference to someone. But we know that they can make the greatest difference to young people, especially those living the most challenging lives; for these young people, adventures are otherwise out of reach. We reinvest all we earn into our places, people and programmes. 

YHA is the ninth biggest national charity in the UK by membership. Yet far too few people know about our charitable status or our cause. This is something we must change. Recently we have sharpened our focus to prioritise the work we do to improve physical and mental health, wellbeing and crucial life skills. This sharpening of focus gives us the clarity we need to communicate our cause and grow our supporter base.

It is time to build on the commercial and operational foundation built by my predecessor that put YHA on the map as a leading national charity for young people. If the last 10 years of YHA’s journey was about transforming YHA the business, the next 10 is about transforming the reach and impact of YHA the charity. 

This new post of Director of Strategy and Engagement will help YHA do just this. The new Directorate brings together the departments responsible for fundraising, marketing and communications, customer insight and membership, digital, volunteering and impact along with a newly created programmes, products and services department.

As the new Director, your job will be to shape, lead and align these functions in support of YHA’s charitable mission. You will have significant leadership experience in one or more of these areas in the not-for-profit sector. With strong commercial and political awareness, your task will be to work closely with me, the Board, and the Executive Team to develop new programmes, partnerships, external communications, funding opportunities and links with other charities, corporates and public bodies to significantly expand the national profile and reach of this remarkable organisation.

I look forward to hearing from you, and I wish you the best of luck with your application.

We are YHA.

We transform young lives forever through travel and real adventure.

Because where you go changes who you become.



James Blake

CEO - Youth Hostel Association