The History of CYEC

Founded in 1970 CYEC has grown into a leading youth development charity promoting young people as change makers and active citizens across the Commonwealth network of nations.

Ever since 1970 thousands of young people from across the Commonwealth have met, talked, worked together and supported each other as part of a unique network. Supported by CYEC these young people have learnt new skills, communicated across cultures and forged lifelong friendships and links.

How did all this begin?

In the late 1960’s a small team of people led by David Dilks, CYEC’s founding Chairman, and at that time a young professor of History at the University of Leeds, took up an idea first pioneered by Major Fred Ney. Believing that the future of the Commonwealth lay with young people, Ney had established a programme of exchanges between the UK and Canada. Dilks had participated in this programme and then set about establishing an organisation to facilitate more opportunities for Commonwealth young people to meet and interchange.

Initially many exchanges took place with Canada and Australia, but as the Commonwealth family has grown so CYEC’s programme expanded to reflect the growing membership and a wider and more diverse range of participants. 90% of exchanges and projects now take place with Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Today the emphasis is on locally based, youth-owned and led exchanges with young adults planning and managing their own projects, choosing exchange themes, and learning new skills - so enabling them to be active local and global citizens.