About us

AY Group Community Services CIO is a not-for-profit organisation whose objective is to provide community cohesion and wellbeing for people of all ages, cultures and abilities.

We are passionate in our belief that London communities desperately need local hubs to provide a set of safe, secure and proactive services. The AY-Group has sought to achieve this, created in 2015 to help residents develop their skills and gain employment while offering them a wide range of activities to participate in. Our hub seeks to provide a cellular office opportunity, designed as a space to both work and learn.

We help young people in your community, Hammersmith and Fulham (H&F) and other areas in London to go from being unemployed or unemployable to become skilled and then helping them get into work or start their own business.

 

What is a CIO?

AY Group is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

CIOs are limited companies, with special additional features, created for the use of people who want to conduct a business or other activity for community benefit, and not purely for private advantage.

This is achieved by a “community interest test” and “asset lock” which ensures that the CIO is established for community purpose, assets and profits are dedicated to these purposes. Registration of a company as a CIO has to be approved by the Regulator who also has a continuing monitoring and enforcement role.”

Registered Charity Number- 1195163

Our Team

Danny Barnes (CEO)

In 2015, AY Group was set up and so Danny was born! As AY Group Chef Executive Officer, he knows what he wants and is dedicated to help the youth make their dreams come true. Mix enthusiasm, target orientation, positivity and professionalism together with over 6 years of experience in management, you get a great team leader, called Danny Barnes.

Glory Kasongo (Trustee)

Glory is an outgoing individual that has a passion for psychology and mental health. She believes in women’s empowerment, equality, and inclusivity for those from marginalised groups. Glory has experience in mentoring young females from disadvantaged backgrounds and counselling adults with her excellent interpersonal skills. She strongly believes in improving communities for people to reach their full potential and leaving a lasting impact

Tamasin Byrne (Trustee)

 

Iram Rafiq (Trustee)

 

Our Interns

Maria Paula:

Maria Paula is studying psychology with a minor in education. She is a lover of the process of growth and self-development of the human, through intelligent consciousness. She is committed to the well-being of the planet and humanity. She is an individual who it’s passionate about mental health and helps people creating awareness of each decision. Her participation, volunteer and her academic performance have permitted her to gain outstanding skills, which has made her had an excellent predisposition, motivation to learn and to work.

Samantha Buck:
Samantha is a Politics and IR graduate with a passion for human rights and social equality. She has spent her time as a student volunteering at the local women’s centre, where she was able to help teach and encourage women from various backgrounds. She strongly believes that ever member of society deserves equal opportunities and encouragement. She is getting ready to start her Masters in Human Rights, where she hopes to further a career in fighting for social justice for all. 
Tessah Keza:
My name is Tessah Keza. I grew up in Kenya and currently I live in Canada, but I’ve been staying out of the pandemic in my homeland – Rwanda. I am in the 4th year of my International Studies major; one of my greatest passions in Pan-African Development and that is what I intend to use my major for. I look forward to working with everyone at Acknowledging Youth and working with an organisation that helps make a better world.”
Lilly Cox:
Lilly is an extrovert who loves to be around others and has made it her life goal to help those around her. With university degrees in psychology and sociology, Lilly understands how people work, believes everyone deserves a chance, and fights for those that are underrepresented. She has been involved in non-profit work for the last 11 years and is excited to be a part of the AY Group team!
Steffine Escourse:
Steffine is dedicated to helping good causes to do great things. She helps bring out the best in people and the projects that she works on to help inspire meaningful social change. When Steffine isn’t working on all things Fundraising, she can be found exploring art – or out enjoying food and drinks with her friends.
Oula Ismail:
My name is Oula Ismail. I’m 27 years old and I’m currently studying international business management at Heriot Watt University. My hobbies are swimming and badminton. I have witnessed a open heart surgery in theatre and that was the most incredible experience. 
Alexys Schmieder
Alexys is currently a senior at The University of Texas, working towards her bachelor’s degree in Government and Political Science, with a certificate in Sociology. She has experience with local non-profits and political groups in Texas. She has a passion for local government and believes in the importance of community action and cooperation. 

Plus Natalie Loard, Dianne Rodgers, Vaishali Singh.

Last updated 15th June 2021

Our Volunteers

Daniela Salvi, Gifty jhonson, Eli Vasileva, Dylan Chung, Merveille Mpoyi, Oula Ismail, Maria Espinoza, Henry Yao,

Tisha Rabadia, Paul Zabnienski

Last updated: 15th June 2021

A Word from our CEO

“I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible” – Danny Barnes

In 2012, while unemployed himself, Danny Barnes set up a community project in London called Acknowledging Youths to raise aspirations and make a positive contribution to the lives of young people in London and provide education, training and employment.

This is achieved by a “community interest test” and “asset lock” which ensures that the CIO is established for community purpose, assets and profits are dedicated to these purposes. Registration of a company as a CIO has to be approved by the Regulator who also has a continuing monitoring and enforcement role.”

“Whenever I tell people my story, they’re inspired to change their lives; I’ve been in prison myself, I’ve been in gangs, I’ve been homeless, my sister died of Leukaemia at 14 and I grew up not knowing my mum. Because of this, I’m able to engage with young people and I know exactly what they are going through, having been through the same experience.” 

Danny wanted to raise the aspirations of young people in inner London who were unemployed and didn’t expect to get work because they lacked both skills and opportunities. He wanted to make a positive contribution to the lives of those young people, by increasing their self-esteem and confidence, giving them new skills and ultimately helping them become more employable.

This is achieved by a “community interest test” and “asset lock” which ensures that the CIO is established for community purpose, assets and profits are dedicated to these purposes. Registration of a company as a CIO has to be approved by the Regulator who also has a continuing monitoring and enforcement role.”

They also offer the chance for young people to volunteer within the organization so they can gain valuable work experience.

“When a young person comes to us, they might not be ready to go into a job, so we ask them what they want to achieve, work out what we can do for them and then help them to reach their goals.”

Danny recognises that some young people have the potential to start their own businesses. To help them get started, he set up an Enterprise Club in partnership with NatWest. This offers young people the opportunity to do a business course to make sure they’re on the right track and have the best chance to make it on their own.

Acknowledging Youths is going from strength to strength, now running a Charitable Incorporated Organisation staffed by volunteers with Danny as CEO. Their initiative has been recognised with several contracts from the DWP to work in Westminster, Chelsea, Kensington, Hammersmith, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Southwark and looking to expand in entire London.

“I know our approach works and I’m determined to carry on and show that it can be done.”

Acknowledging Youths works and support those young people in the community who are vulnerable or neglected. From juvenile ex-offenders, drug dealers, gang members, young people in care and pupil referral units – for young people who are not able to attend mainstream education often due to exclusion. Engaging with over 4000 young people to date, helping to tackle the nationwide issue of youth unemployment through a community focused grassroots initiative.