Newsmaker: Doin' it for the kids - Joyce Moseley Chief executive, Rainer

Annie Kelly

Joyce Moseley's voice rings out across the cafe to where a suited man is smoking a potent black cigar: "Excuse me, we were just talking about how much your cigar smells. It's quite overpowering."

Taken aback, he looks ready to argue his right to smoke in the smoking section, but he is clearly disarmed by Moseley's pleasant but firm manner.

He stubs out his cigar.

It's hard to say no to Moseley. Decades of dealing with wayward teenagers and the politics of local government could have left her demoralised and exhausted. Instead she has survived, enthusiasm and optimism intact, and with a steely determination to take young people's charity Rainer into new territory.

The organisation has been around for 200 years, but it is still relatively unknown outside child care, youth justice and probation circles. It is this that Moseley wants to change as she strives to raise the charity's profile with public and statutory donors.

Moseley is happy with the fact that most of the charity's income comes from statutory sources. Indeed, she doesn't expect the charity's voluntary income ever to exceed her new target of 25 per cent (up from 5 per cent).

But she is frustrated with the sector's preoccupation with whether it's possible to retain independence and take funding from government. She calls the debate irrelevant.

"Of course you can be independent and still work with government," she insists. "People talk about the voluntary sector as if it's a homogeneous group, and it's not. As long as you're clear about your remit and what money you're getting for what, then it's entirely possible to deliver services and retain the integrity of your messages and work. If you're criticising government policy,ministers might not like it, but they'll accept that you're doing your job and that you're the best people to get the job done."

It helps that Rainer is becoming rather good at winning statutory contracts.

A recent coup saw it land a £9m European Social Fund grant for two projects to get young offenders into long-term employment and higher education (Third Sector, 26 January).

The two schemes require Rainer to join forces with public, private and voluntary agencies. It's a way of working that Moseley embraces wholeheartedly.

Her vocabulary is littered with words like co-operation, collaboration and cross-working and she is taking the same approach with the charity's burgeoning campaigning work. Don't expect to see Rainer standing in the street shouting and waving placards. "I prefer to substitute the word 'campaigning' with the word 'influence' because this is how I see us operating," she says.

Despite this, meetings with children's minister Margaret Hodge are unlikely to change the public's attitude towards the type of young people Rainer helps - under-supported 10-25 year-olds. Often dubbed antisocial, they're demonised by the press and feared by the masses.

But Moseley is a woman with a vision. She has no doubt that Rainer can and will alter public opinion. "My line has always been that these young people are our future and if we fail to invest in them, then it's going to be at our peril," she warns. "If we want to cut crime, get kids off the streets and back into work, we need to start treating young people with respect.

"I want Rainer to be as strongly fixed in the public's mind for believing in under-supported young people as organisations such as Barnado's are for children," she states.

Moseley's dedication to the youngsters she works with is clear. She talks of meeting people who have had such tough lives that she wants to throw her arms around them. Her job now is to make the public feel the same way.

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