Youthline CEO receives New Zealand Order of Merit
After 27 years of service, Youthline CEO and National Spokesman, Stephen Bell has been appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to youth.
“It’s a huge honour and very unexpected – I have no idea who nominated me”, says Bell.
Starting as a volunteer in 1985, Mr Bell who has a nursing and business background says it’s been a long, but incredibly rewarding journey.
“I got involved through flatmates who had joined and were thrilled with the training and opportunities they were getting, so I thought I’d check it out and nearly three decades later I’m still here!!”
In the early days Mr Bell volunteered on the helpline and performed as part of a drama group which went into schools and prisons.
Then in the 1990’s he shifted his focus to up-skilling as a youth worker and counsellor, before making the decision to move into management as the organisation grew.
“In 2000 Youthline had half a paid staff member and now we have over 90 paid staff and hundreds of volunteers across the country, so the growth has been huge.”
Today Youthline offers a multitude of services, including volunteer training, youth development groups, an alternative education school, text, phone, email and face-to face counselling, and a whole lot more.
“Although the world has changed greatly since I started here, youth still face the same challenges, only now there’s more support and development options out there for them, and Youthline has always aimed to be at the forefront of that space.”
Over the next few years Youthline is focussing its attention on the area of e therapies and social media.
“The digital world is a huge part of people’s lives now, so we’ve got some very exciting projects in the pipeline...watch this space!”
Mr Bell says a constant thread throughout his time at Youthline has been his own personal development.
“ Youthline has given me back, twice what I’ve put in - I’ve learnt so much about myself, my passions and my abilities and have grown hugely in confidence – that sort of thing is invaluable.”