Joshua Pelled: Bridging the Gap between Illness and Education so No Survivor Left Behind
The 10 Most Fearless Leaders in Business, 2022
Working to change people’s lives is a huge responsibility, particularly when they are in a vulnerable situation. Joshua Pelled is the CEO and Founder of Bright Futures UK, a Non-profit charity Organization that supporting children and young people back into education after long-term medical conditions.
Bright Futures UK is the result of Joshua’s personal experience. He has survived cancer twice in his life. Both times when he was diagnosed with cancer, he was in school which meant taking a significant period out for operations, treatments, therapies & recovery. He lost a year of schooling each time he was diagnosed and the social life that came with it. He recalls, “As I was able to start returning to school, I realized there were no organizations to help me catch up on missed work or be there to support my transition back. Like so many thousands of others, it was left to me to work extra hard whilst recovering from Cancer and catch up on missed time in school.”
Joshua’s own experiences became the bricks of Bright Futures UK’s foundation. It was created as the first UK organization to bridge the gap between illness and education. Having experienced the issues himself, he wanted to create an organization that directly supported young people who were going through the same situation as he was, whether it is mental health or physical illness. Bright Futures UK bridges the gap between illness and education while working with NHS trusts, local authorities, and other charities.
Bright Futures UK is a grassroots organization that provides support to bridge the gap between illness and education. The organization has 4 main services – Tutoring, Mentoring, and Befriending & Workshops. All programs it offers are tailor-made to each individual or group the teams are working with. Joshua states, “No illness affects young people the same, so why should the service we provide take a cookie-cutter approach.”
All services at BFUK are delivered by volunteers who have specific skills or qualifications in requested topics from its young people. There is training and support throughout the entire program to ensure young people and volunteers have the best experience possible.
A Fighter who Beat Cancer Twice
Success is something personal and means something different to everyone. Joshua believes that whatever drives someone to be successful in their mind is very personal and comes from experiences they’ve had growing up. A person’s definition of success will also change at different stages of their life.
Joshua sees success means being fulfilled by what one does both in work and his or her personal life. He says, “This stems from my own experience of having beaten Cancer twice when I was young. Whilst it may sound cliché, having Cancer puts things in perspective and shows you what’s important. Spending time doing something you don’t enjoy is usually counterproductive to having a good work/life balance and ultimately will make you miserable.”
Joshua is incredibly passionate about Bright Futures UK and thinks the organization still has a long way to grow. He deems,“The success we have with our services is never lost on me.”
A Challenge of all Challenges
Every business experience challenge during its initial phase, and that is no different for non-profits. As per Joshua, one of the most valuable lessons he learned over the years is to never settle and always look at how processes, provisions, and people can be improved. He says, “You have to recognize the successes you have and enjoy them; however, you must always be thinking about the next step-up from where you are.”
As with most organizations out there, Covid-19 presented an unprecedented challenge for every aspect of the business. This was the roadblock of all roadblocks and tested Bright Futures UK to the limits. Whilst many organizations suffered, Bright Futures UK found opportunity and came out of the pandemic a stronger organization. During this major challenge, the BFUK team’s ability to constantly change to improve made adapting to the pandemic much easier. Without continuously working towards a better organization, BFUK would not have been able to adapt as quickly as it did and overcome the challenge that was Covid.
How does Bright Futures stay abreast with the increasing competition in the industry?
As a unique charity, with no other organization providing the support we offer, it’s important to work alongside existing provisions. Bright Futures UK works alongside both statutory provisions and private organizations. By being the only organization providing this support, we are exclusively placed to bridge the gap between schools, hospitals, and local authorities.
By working alongside many other organizations which work with the young people we support, we stay plugged into updates, news, and opportunities. It helps us as an organization keep up to date and always remain current.
Leading a Dedicated Team
As a CEO, Joshua sets the strategic direction of BFUK and ensures the team works like a well-oiled machine to carry out tasks and meet targets. He says, “Having a fantastic team around me means a lot of my responsibilities are working with my senior leadership team to make sure everyone is working towards our common goal. I play a major role in fundraising, development, and administration of the charity.” He also adds, “The work we do speaks for itself and motivates every single member of the team – whether they are on the front lines or behind the scenes. Creating an environment my team feels comfortable in is incredibly important to me and helps reinforce just how valuable they are too Bright Futures UK.”
For Joshua, the team should feel motivated to come into work, as whatever their role in the charity is, they are making such a big difference to young people’s future.
Passionate for Helping Young People
According to Joshua, maintaining a work/life balance is always difficult for a passionate leader with goals. He finds it particularly difficult as his work blends into his personal life also. He states, “I don’t consider this a negative as I’m lucky to work in an area I’m so passionate about.”
Joshua’s regular day mostly is working with the team, meetings, or admin. In the evening, he tries to socialize as much as possible, whether that’s meeting a patron for a drink or seeing friends for dinner. When his personal and professional life overlap, Joshua sees this as a key motivation to involve personal life in the amazing work of Bright Futures UK; whether that’s attending a fundraising event or encouraging friends to volunteer and support young people.
Heading to Provide as much Support as Possible
Bright Futures UK is the only organization supporting children & young people back into education after long-term/chronic illness. Joshua’s vision for Bright Futures UK is to be able to offer support to young people all over the UK who are struggling to get back into education after the illness.
Joshua Pelled wants to establish Bright Futures UK as a national charity that works alongside the NHS, Statutory provisions, and schools to ensure illness doesn’t stop young people from reaching their true potential. He states that BFUK will continue to offer its online services on a national scale whilst carefully grow the company’s physical presence to key hubs across the UK. “Whether young people need support in person or online, BFUK will be able to provide that support,” says Joshua.