Restless Development is about one thing: youth leadership.

Now, more than ever, the world needs young people’s leadership to solve our greatest challenges.

We support the journey of a young person to become a leader and help them multiply that leadership in their communities and around the world.

Every year we train, mentor, nurture and connect thousands of young people to lead change in their communities and the world at large. Some are social entrepreneurs, setting up businesses to provide for their families and create local jobs, others are youth advocates, campaigning on issues like gender equality, climate justice, HIV and many others. No matter what issue these young leaders focus on, they are all working to achieve the same goal: improve their lives and the lives of people in their communities.

We are activists, advocates, researchers, campaigners, volunteers, staff, partners working side by side to grow and multiply youth leadership around the world. We are led by 10 Hubs across the world. These Hubs not only deliver projects, but offer expertise, support and innovation for young people and partners around the world. We have been working with young people since 1985 and our work is led by thousands of young people every year.

Our work in 2019.

4,557 volunteers led our programmes, mobilising 134,356 more young people to lead change in their communities.


Our impact in 2019.


I am Devota. I am a young activist who believes that young people should fight for and demand our rights.

I am not the Devota Tweve that people used to know before I started to work as a volunteer with Restless Development in Tanzania. I used to be very shy and lacked the confidence to speak up in front of people. I couldn’t lead a team. I didn’t know my own value, ability or capability to make my community and country a better place.

I used to think that as a young female, I couldn’t stand alone to fight for others. But Restless Development completely changed my life. Through training I realised that, as a young person, there is so much I can do to turn the table around for my fellow young people and the development of my community too. The training gave me remarkable skills and confidence to believe in myself that I can do amazing work.

Growing up, I witnessed an alarming number of school dropouts because of early pregnancy. Its destructive impact on my peers inspired me to raise young people's awareness of their rights and work with them to fight for gender equality in their communities.

Restless Development supported me to create and train a team of young people to collect data on issues affecting women and girls. We surveyed over 3,000 people in the local ward to identify problems and areas for improvement.

Together with Restless Development and my fellow Youth Accountability Advocates, we used our findings to hold local leaders accountable for their existing promises on these issues and gave them evidence-based recommendations for future action. My work has involved restoring trust in local leaders, and strengthening the relationship between different members of the community. Now I join the Ward Development Council meetings where I educate them on the effects of gender-based violence, the importance of family planning and hold them to account on their commitments. Through my efforts, we have seen increased reporting of cases of violence against women and girls and better support from the authorities.

This year, as a result of the impact my work has had, I was selected as an Africa4Her Champion by the Young African Leaders Initiative Network and awarded a volunteer award by the United Nations for my contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Working as a Youth Accountability Advocate with Restless Development has been the greatest opportunity of my life.

My story is testimony to my fellow youth and community at large that change is possible. I try to instill the belief in young people that anything is possible if we are passionate about it and if we dare to give back to our communities. I tell young people that they can start with the little they have, like I did, and keep their head up in learning, unlearning and relearning new skills, which will take them where they wish to be.

My message to you: We young people are the present and future for our communities, countries and the world. The international community, especially development agencies and supporters, should believe, trust and invest in the power of young people to unlock their potential, to claim their seats around the table, and to stand firm to demand accountability from decision makers.


I am Mwila, I am a member of a Community Savings Group in my community in Zambia.

I’m a happy woman who is very passionate about helping others. I joined the savings group and Mubanga [a Restless Development volunteer] started coming to teach us about savings, businesses and investments. I learnt that even when I just have 50 kwacha (roughly £2.50), I can start a business and earn a profit, make a budget and support my family.

I also have a vision of expanding my business. I’m hoping that the profit I’m making from selling fritters will help me venture into the business of selling maize [corn that forms the basis of nshima, a staple dish in Zambia]. The training I received from Restless Development has transformed me.

In my community, most women are housewives. I encourage them not to entirely depend on their husbands to provide. I tell them about the importance of a woman being financially independent and how it leads to her entire family being financially empowered.

I recruit these women to our Community Savings Group so that they are able to start their own businesses too. After I noticed the benefits of our Community Savings Groups, I initiated the formation of a youth savings group where young people save and borrow money.

I’m happy that the group has transitioned into a skills centre where young people are learning different skills in tailoring and catering and I’m proud that the group now makes clothes, which they sell in the community. Part of the income from their sales is invested as savings in the group and later shared out as loans.

Some of the members of the groups have even started their own businesses while others have used the savings to further their education.

From what I have learnt from Restless, there are so many ways to help young people take care of themselves. It is important so that they become leaders.

My message to you: I would like to tell our supporters that women are very powerful beings. If we can be financially empowered, we will be able to support our families. I would like to ask you to continue funding projects like Tusunge Lubono “Let’s Grow Our Wealth”, which give us skills to start our own businesses.


I am Javenic, a 22-year-old environmentalist, youth leader and community activist with a fervent desire to make a positive impact in society and inspire others – especially young people – to become positive changemakers.

Coming from the small island of Saint Lucia, I have witnessed and experienced the impacts of climate change first hand. This has fuelled my desire to contribute to solving the crisis through grassroots climate activism and advocacy.

From the age of eight, I sought to play my part in my community. But it wasn’t until I attended the regional youth climate change conference in Jamaica that I realised just how vulnerable our region was to the impacts of climate change.

With other young people, I identified an urgent need to get more people involved in climate advocacy and activism, specifically young people. We took action and formed a regional Youth Climate Change Activists movement in the Caribbean to look at the issue of climate change. Our group is now the lead voice for Caribbean Youth at both a regional and international level.

As a leader, it is important to be able to recognise a need in society and dedicate your efforts to this cause. You must also serve as a mentor, inspiring and developing others to become effective leaders too.

It is in building a track record of success and engaging people from all walks of life, that I have been able to build connections and influence others to adopt sustainable daily living practices.

As an environmentalist, the fact that there is still a lack of environmental awareness within my community, means that there is still a great deal of work to be done. However, by setting a good example and through my involvement and extensive participation at various levels, I have had a positive effect on my fellow young people and community.Now youth often ask me “How can I get involved?”

My experience with Restless Development has reaffirmed my belief that as young people we have the potential to create a pathway for the society which we want to live in.

In March 2019, I was invited by Cambridge University and Restless Development to their Getting By workshop on youth unemployment. It was not only an amazing learning experience, but also a catalyst for me wanting to do more for the betterment of society and for looking at climate change as not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for job creation.

My message to you: Your support in whatever form is greatly appreciated and vital to the changes we need to make. I urge you, as we commence this decade of intensified sustained youth-led action, to continue to support young people and encourage other partners to get involved too.


I am Johnson Nayak and I am proud to carry the banner for youth-led development.

I am a passionate development professional driven by my values and my belief in the potential of young people to unleash positive change in their communities.

My journey as a leader began when I volunteered with Restless Development on our International Citizen Service programme in India and then joined as a member of staff in 2013. I have been provided with many different training opportunities to build my capacity in the area of sexual health and rights.

From a volunteer to a full-time staff member, I have supported the implementation of multiple, big, complex programmes in diverse places across India. I have been a mentor to volunteer peer educators and young leaders of Restless Development and have worked closely with hundreds of volunteers across Delhi, Bihar and Odisha, unleashing their capacity and preparing them for different leadership opportunities.

Under our Plan-It Girls programme in Delhi, one of the programmes implemented under my leadership role, we organised careers fairs in 10 government secondary schools for girls. The initiative had participation from the private sector, civil society organisations and Government agencies, extending support and direction to 4,000 young girls in creating pathways to employment. This is something I really take pride in.

My message to you: I hope the governments, agencies and institutions that support young people will invest more in them. Institutional development and meaningful engagement of young people is key to transforming lives. And as we grow in the increasingly complex development sector, we need to take a look at where we are and reflect on whether we are heading in the right direction.

In 2019, we looked more deeply into issues that we knew needed confronting head-on.

Our research shed light on problematic trends that the world is failing to address – in particular youth unemployment and a struggling grassroots youth civil society sector.

Most importantly, we studied these issues working with the people affected by them, by using our youth-led approach to research, and supporting young people to use evidence to campaign and collaborate for the kind of change they want to see.

Fundamentally, what all our findings tell us is that the development sector and its programmes need to shift a significant amount of power to young people and communities in the majority world, to the individuals and groups most affected by the problems being addressed.

The need to transfer power to communities is nothing new, but facing up to it and challenging ourselves to overcome it has been difficult. More needs to be done collectively.

Youth civil society.

Without youth civil society, mobilising and connecting vast networks of young people to bring about change is an impossible task. Youth civil society’s experience, insights and perspectives on delivering change are desperately needed.

But youth civil society is only just managing to survive rather than thrive, according to a report we published in consultation with 200 civil society organisations. The challenges facing youth civil society are currently too great: from access to funding; to coordination between youth civil society organisations, NGOs and development partners; to the lack of power and access they have to help them be effective. This report was part of our work leading a group of organisations collectively called the Development Alternative.

Over the next four years, the Development Alternative will work with over 200 youth civil society actors – along with governments, development partners and the private sector – to strengthen the youth sector and create a package of support for grassroots organisations.

How young people are making a living.

In 2019, we worked with a group of young people from eight countries to put a much-needed spotlight on the looming youth unemployment crisis.

In the next decade, the World Bank estimates one billion young people will enter the labour market but only 40% of them will find employment, if the job market remains unchanged. With 90% of young people living in low-income countries, where the vast majority are unemployed, underemployed or in precarious work, the situation will worsen as youth populations continue to grow until 2100.

We published a report ‘Getting By: Young People’s Working Lives,’ carried out in partnership with Cambridge University and a group of young people, that found many existing employment interventions are failing – young people are gaining skills but unable to secure employment. We used the report to call for employment initiatives that drive demand for a young, skilled workforce, and that are based on young people’s first-hand experience of making a living.

The research also made one thing very clear: we need to start listening to young people. The voices of young people are conspicuously missing from the conversation about how they can make a living, and there is a widening gulf between their perspectives and policymakers.

"We need to focus on two main questions: What type of jobs will these 400 million get? What will the 600 million with no jobs do? As a young person, I want to have my voice heard and participate in the decision making for the future of youth employment and making a living. Working with Restless Development was an opportunity for me to share my frustrations, worries and views as a young person who is struggling to make a living." - Moneera (pictured below), a 22-year-old social entrepreneur from Sudan and one of the eight researchers who worked on the Getting By Report.

In 2019, we strengthened our work with existing supporters and forged new partnerships. Our fundraising partnerships are not about charity, they are about working side by side to invest in young leaders who are changing their own lives and their communities for the better.

Corporate partnerships.

A key component of Restless Development’s corporate partnerships is being able to reward the committed and passionate people who dedicate their time to supporting our work.

In June, four employees from two of our long-standing corporate partners travelled to Uganda on the trip of a lifetime to meet inspiring volunteers who lead our programmes on sexual and reproductive health rights for young people and communities, and making a decent and sustainable living.

A highlight of the trip was visiting our Get Up Speak Out programme and meeting a group of teenage mothers who run small start-up businesses to support themselves and their families, and come together to support each other.

"One of the reasons I’m an advocate for corporate social responsibility is because I believe businesses are well equipped to invest in change… I know we can unlock incredible potential at the intersection of business and charity. I’ve seen it first hand.” Carrie from IP Integration (pictured second left).

Double the impact.

In 2019, we took part in our first ever match fundraising appeal through The Big Give. For one week, every donation made to us was doubled, pound for pound. We raised an incredible £73,412 through the appeal, thanks to a fantastic response from our networks rallying together, as well as new supporters. These funds will be used to generate and support young leaders around the world and multiply the work they do to solve some of their biggest challenges.

We are so grateful for the generosity shown to us through this amazing opportunity; we are very lucky to have such a supportive network who not only gave generously but encouraged their families, friends and colleagues to get involved too. Thank you so much to everyone who helped and a special thank you to our match funders who made all of this possible.

Schools partnerships.

Over the past four years, more than 9,000 young people have participated in the Flight Centre Schools Triathlon, raising over £1 million for Restless Development and local charities.

Oliver, Raiyaan and Rohan from Cumnor House School in Croydon have been supporters of the Schools Triathlon for several years. Their teams – Pixel Wolves, Superhumans and Thunderbolts – raised an incredible £727.

The boys had amazing ideas on how to fundraise as much as they could for Restless Development. Oliver baked cakes, organised a concert, a board games event and an auction. Rohan decided to sell some of his artwork, books and toys for sponsorship money.

The Schools Triathlon Series encourages young people to work in teams, with many participants saying that the triathlons have inspired them to keep active. The boys even said that the best thing about the event was the ‘really friendly and supportive atmosphere throughout the whole day.’

Many triathletes also used the Schools Triathlon as an opportunity to fundraise whilst taking action on the Global Goals – goals that, if achieved, will end injustice and inequality, and climate change. Triathletes organised sponsored litter picks and river cleaning around their local community, sold homemade recycled candles and secured matched funding from local businesses.

“It is very important that young people are given the best opportunities in life – this motivated me to do the Schools Triathlon and make a difference.”

We are built upon the connections, bonds, shared values and wellbeing of our people, from volunteers to trustees. Our work can be tough and is not without its challenges. Supporting our people to be happy and healthy, striving for diversity, and anchoring ourselves using our values is essential to life at Restless Development.

In 2019, we invested more time in improving our approach to diversity and inclusion. We took a data-led approach to create our first global diversity and inclusion strategy, undertaking our first-ever global diversity data collection exercise across all dimensions of diversity. This data has helped us to understand our workforce better and we will be developing specific diversity and inclusion action plans in each of our Hubs in 2020.

How we looked in 2019.

Our global staff and volunteer demographics.

Each year, we survey our staff. This is what they told us in 2019.

We listen and learn, always seeking to improve our work. 2019 was another year to learn and adapt by listening to young people and their communities, and through collaboration with our partners.

Listening to our volunteers.

We launched two global learning initiatives – a Listening Exercise and a Volunteer Survey – to help us better understand the experiences of the thousands of volunteers who lead so much of our work.

Rather than direct this project ourselves, we asked young people in our network to shape the consultation and a Youth Team was set up to guide the project. Consisting of a series of in-depth focus group discussions as well as a global survey, we heard from volunteers across half of our programmes and in each of our Hubs.

They told us their experiences were largely positive, and also shared clear areas for us to learn and improve.

Improving our volunteers’ experiences.

The Youth Team first analysed the results and delivered their findings and recommendations to our Global Directors, who developed a number of strategies to improve specific areas such as:

  • Improved support to volunteers on their placement with a particular focus on their professional and career development;
  • Ensuring that volunteers feel as safe as possible in their communities;
  • Support for volunteers once they conclude their placements including a clear path to employment opportunities within and outside of Restless Development.

Our Board and young people will now hold us to account for these strategies and a Volunteer Survey for 2020 will provide evidence of improvements and areas for further improvement.

Learning. We must always reflect, adapt, and strengthen how we run our agency to best serve young people.

Climate & environment. Restless Development has a long history of environmental and climate action, but we reflected last year that we need to be clearer about our work, our commitment and our stance on these issues. In 2019, we reviewed our Environmental Principles to turn them into more practical policy and procedures. We also started work to review and adapt our carbon footprint model and make it more adaptable to our Hubs. We began a process to clarify our strategy and to understand how best we can contributeon climate and other environmental issues in 2020.

Living. Evidence from our work – and that of our partners – has shown that interventions targeted at supporting young people to gain skills do not effectively decrease youth unemployment without interventions that target job creation. We need to reflect this in the design of our programmes by combining business and life skills training with opportunities for employment, for example through partnerships with the private sector.

Diversity & inclusion. As a values-driven agency, the diversity of our people and the inclusivity of our culture is very important to us. We stepped up our commitment this year with our first-ever global diversity and inclusion strategy, gathering data, and holding agency-wide training and conversations about how we can challenge ourselves to ensure our high standards are met. We want our staffing to truly reflect the people our work serves, and we want to continually grow our progressive, values-driven culture to ensure that all of our people thrive as their full selves at work.

Restructure. The largest-ever restructure of our ‘international function’ (our equivalent of a head office) took effect in 2019, reshaping how our global agency works. We listened to our teams in one to ones and in town-hall-style meetings, informing a restructure that reduced the size of our international function and cost by 15%, yet improved performance by drawing more expertise from around the agency into our global leadership .

Leadership. We reconceived what leadership means to us by creating more space to reflect on the kind of leadership culture we want to build – transformative, feminist, accountable, collective – because it allows us all to bring our full selves to work and, in so doing, increases the performance and wellbeing of our people, from volunteers to trustees.


In the period between October 2018 - September 2019 a total of 10 non-critical safeguarding incidents were reported to our Board of Trustees and the Charity Commission, who confirmed that ‘all cases were handled appropriately and responsibly by Restless Development’.

In the same period, we recorded a decrease from 2018 in the number of critical and crisis level safety and security incidents due to the introduction of an improved comprehensive safety and security induction and staff experience in taking mitigating actions to prevent incidents from occurring.


Strengthening safeguarding.

In 2019, we took steps to review and strengthen our safeguarding systems.

Review. In 2019, Restless Development contracted an external consultant to run an independent review of its safeguarding systems and culture. The review found that we are meeting our safeguarding responsibilities in regard to strategic leadership, governance, staff development, volunteer training, safer recruitment and, crucially, in handling safeguarding concerns that are raised.

The review identified best-practice approaches, including a strong organisational vision and leadership from trustees and the Senior Leadership Team. The process for raising and managing concerns works well, supported by each Hub having their own robust policies and processes.

Frameworks for solid partnership are in place, underpinned by a flexible approach to implementing safeguarding practice which is responsive to local needs. An agency survey identified that safeguarding is embraced as everyone’s responsibility.

The review included a benchmarking exercise to measure our safeguarding compliance against best-practice standards in the sector. The standards used included the Department for International Development (DFID) – Enhanced Due Diligence for Safeguarding; Keeping Children Safe, Child Safeguarding Standards and How To Implement Them, 2014; and Bond 12 Commitments to Change in Safeguarding. Restless Development measured very well against the compliance standards.

Leadership and training. Each Hub set up their own internal safeguarding working groups to deepen our leadership on safeguarding across the agency. Hubs deliver quarterly training to all staff to drive the culture of safeguarding within all our teams. All Directors were trained in our advanced safeguarding training module in 2019.


Going forwards.

In 2020, we will work hard to implement the recommendations from our 2019 review, which includes a curriculum of professional training for volunteers and staff, and a process to engage volunteers and community members in developing safeguarding resources, systems and processes. We aim to work with young people more closely to support them to hold us and the wider sector to account for protecting their wellbeing and preventing harm.

Safeguarding is a collective responsibility, but we do have a dedicated team who lead our approach. Our safeguarding team includes our lead Safeguarding Officer who is our Operations Director, our Head of Safeguarding, and our Senior Safety and Security Managers. They are supported by a staff team of seven trained safeguarding officers and their work is overseen by two members of our international Board of Trustees who are trained as safeguarding officers. In each of our country Hubs, our Directors are trained in our advanced safeguarding training and are supported by a further 19 advanced trained officers across the Hubs. Our full safeguarding policies and commitments are available on our website www.restlessdevelopment.org.

"The safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers and people in the communities we serve is the top priority for us at Restless Development. It is important that strong systems underpin everything we do. We work hard to prevent incidents from occurring: from protections included in our programmes; to training we provide our staff and volunteers; to risk management and personnel recruitment systems; to values we look for in new and existing staff. If an incident does occur, our commitment is to respond appropriately to any claims or concerns that are raised. Above all, our approach is one of putting people and wellbeing first, backed up with continual learning and adaptation that involves listening and learning from our experience, the experience of people we serve, our partners, and the development sector at large." - Perry Maddox, CEO

Faith, Youth Campaigns Senior Manager.

I am a proud young leader. My journey with Restless Development started in 2017 as a research volunteer and now, as a member of staff, I lead one of our biggest campaigns, Youth Power, which is mobilising thousands of young people to achieve the Global Goals by 2030.

Since joining Restless Development, I have seen first hand how we place young people at the heart of our programmes from design through to delivery, reporting and learning.

Growing young leaders and changemakers is the cornerstone of our work because we believe that when we multiply young leaders, they have the power to influence decision makers and contribute to changing the world we live in.

2019 was such a great year for us at Restless Development and all of the successes in this annual report are owed to friends and supporters like you.

Our work is not without its challenges. Youth civil society – made up of organisations that are vital in driving social change – is only surviving, not thriving as it should be. As the founder of a youth-led grassroots organisation in Zambia, I know this well, but I believe that true change can happen if we take collective action supporting young people and communities to thrive.

A big thank you to each and every one of you for supporting all the work reflected in this annual report. Thank you for making it possible for passionate young leaders such as myself to be enthusiastic about waking up every single day, striving to make this world a better place.

Charlotte & Perry, Board Chair & CEO.

We’re in it together.

When it comes to unleashing the power and potential of the biggest generation of young people in history, we always work in partnership.

Thank you to everyone who has helped to make the incredible stories and impact contained in this annual report possible.

From well over 5,000 dedicated young leaders and staff leading our work every day, to our supporters who give so generously to make our work possible, to some of the biggest development actors and governments in the world who believe in youth power, to over 4,000 young triathletes taking local action and raising money for global change, to the businesses with whom we are building an entirely new understanding of corporate citizenship, to the volunteers who make up our ten boards around the world… we are lucky to be surrounded by partners and friends like you.

We’re about one thing at Restless Development: youth leadership. Thank you for helping us to support, mobilise and multiply young leaders who in turn mobilise communities and countries to rise to the biggest challenges of our time. Because together is the only way we can make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, our most important partners, around the world every day.

We couldn’t and wouldn’t do it alone. It is only together that we are restless. We hope you have enjoyed reading about what we achieved together in our annual report.

For our full Annual Report, including our financial accounts, governance pages and list of supporters, please download our Annual Report PDF.