Hot Chocolate Trust

Dundee, Scotland

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Growing a community with young people

Reflections from Hot Chocolate Trust on the CAF Resilience programme

Young people often feel they don’t quite belong in their own local communities or schools.

But youth work charity, Hot Chocolate Trust, which operates from a church building, works hard to reverse that pattern and build community with young people who feel marginalised.

And for the last year, the organisation has been taking part in the CAF Resilience programme, a scheme that is being piloted by the CAF Advisory team.

As is the case with many other small charities, the organisation in Dundee is operating within a challenging climate and dealing with an unprecedented demand in their services.

They were selected to take part in the scheme to help future-proof their internal working structure so they can continue to deliver their important work for many years to come.


CAF Resilience - one year on

Reflecting on the last year, Dave Close, the charity’s director, said:

“The difference that this last year on the programme has made is that it has helped build the infrastructure for the organisation we are becoming: first adding carefully to our management and admin staff capacity, then supporting our development of the core systems which build the platform for our work with young people.”

He said that before starting the programme, the organisation’s biggest fear was that there were many factors pushing them to grow the scope of their work and size of the team, but that this growth could undermine the quality of their work.

Now, he says, their CAF Resilience work has helped build a new management team that has increased self confidence and skill, and helped them work towards increasing alternative sources of funding, such as traded income.

In the last year, the charity was also able to roll out a ‘Developing Leadership’ training course for managers, working with the whole team to create a new approach and template for line management,  while renewing job descriptions for more clarity on who is responsible for what.

In addition to that, the leadership team brought about various changes to internal processes including revised practice on paying staff on residential weekends, a new incident reporting system, and substantial GDPR work due to the nature of their work with young people and sensitive information.  

The team also came up with a new strategic plan shaped by the needs of the young people they support, along with quarterly reporting to the Board on progress.

Dave added:

“We have to be agile and responsive in a fast-changing context so being able to step back and invest in our infrastructure and systems is invaluable. CAF Resilience makes this possible and injects resources to help make our organisational practice as reflective and nimble as our youth work. We are already seeing the impacts and we’re looking forward to more.”
Young adults at the Hot Chocolate Trust


About Hot Chocolate Trust

Hot Chocolate Trust is a youth work organisation, based in the city centre of Dundee, operating from The Steeple Church.

The charity works with around 350-400 young people aged 12-21 offering them a space that is open, responsive, safe, and accepting.

The charity enables young people to take part and help plan informal drop-in sessions that include art, music, cooking and sport; as well as responsive group work and individual support to explore issues or interests identified with the young people. The organisation also offers are residential weekends, creative school holidays projects, and a supported, accredited volunteering scheme.

"HC’s not like other places. We decorate. We decide what happens. We fix stuff. We recruit staff. It makes it our own."

Rhori, 18.


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