2019-2020 Annual Review & 2020 Covid Impact Report

Lucy Lees
Interim CEO


Resilience, tenacity, community and hope is our 2020 story

Mahdlo has felt the full force of the pandemic, tragically losing our chief executive, Mike Doran, to Covid-19 in April 2020. We may have had to close our doors, but we found a way through these darkest of times to make sure we were able to support our members when they needed it the most. This review will have a different focus. Whilst we celebrate the success of the previous year, we want our story from the pandemic to shine through as well.

Review 19/20

2019 / 2020 A year in review

Mahdlo is and will always be ambitious for youth work. Our vision for 2019-2020 has been focussed on aspirations, dreams and future goals. We strive to ensure excellence across all our provision for young people, offering them new experiences to help achieve their potential.

COVID impact report

2020 has been a difficult year for many; even before the pandemic hit young people falling through the cracks in society was a very real risk. Young people are more vulnerable now than they have ever been, and Mahdlo has a responsibility to those who rely on us. We have had to adapt quickly to deliver remote support via one-to-one and group video calls, telephone check-ins and a host of other outreach services. Supporting our community through this pandemic has been our priority. Take a read through this snapshot report on how we have responded.


Performing through painful experiences

With Mahdlo forced to effectively close our doors from March 2020, we knew we had a responsibility to the young people who relied on us. From delivering food parcels to helping parents with housing and health issues, Mahdlo has adapted to deliver remote support quickly. Sometimes we were the first point of call during extraordinary and devastating circumstances.

15,365 Meaningful engagements April – December 2020


Lifeline during lockdown

Youth workers are part-teacher, part-social worker, part mental health professional and much more. For many young people we are an extension of family. It is our duty to help them achieve the future they deserve. Through grit, determination and positivity we have come through the last 9 months and will be stronger for it.

“I work closely with Michael and his parents. They really feel we listened when no one else would.”




We will not cut corners when it comes to delivering the very best for our young people. We will not give up on supporting our community.

With over 15,000 engagements with young people during lockdown Mahdlo continues to provide a vital role within its community. From ensuring young people don’t go hungry to dedicated outreach support, the Youth Zone continues to embed its offer within the fabric of the borough.

1,300 lunches
delivered to families across Oldham


Ambitious for young people

Now is the time to stand together. As we welcome the laughter and excitement of young people back into our Youth Zone, we will continue to stand strong and be their biggest advocates regardless of any future lockdown restrictions. We will help prepare our young people for their future challenges.

We’ve asked our young people what Mahdlo means to them and this is what they told us…

What do Mahdlo staff
mean to you?

"They ‘get’ young people"

"I can have a laugh with them"

"They are understanding and easy to talk to"

What does Mahdlo
mean to you?

"Helps your social skills"

"Support system"

"It’s a fun place of helpful people who look out for you"


What does youth work
mean to you?

"Helping young people"

"Not feeling judged"

"Meeting new friends"

Sir Norman Stoller

CBE KStJ DL – President

The year 2020 has been a year unlike any other. We have had to learn to face and meet all of the challenges, created by the pandemic, that came our way, despite having very little experience to guide us. Team work, confidence and mutual care, have been the essential keys on which we have relied, and our determination to succeed has played a large part in the results that have been achieved. Mahdlo has earned the confidence and respect of those who rely on us, and providing the answer to their ongoing needs remain our priority.

However, an uncertain landscape ahead means that the services that Mahdlo provides, become even more vital, and to that end, nothing must be allowed to prevent the ongoing achievement of the targets that we have set for those whom we serve. Accordingly, it has never been more important to pull together to ensure that our work gains the recognition, support and funding required to continue and to serve our community.

I hope that you will take both pride and pleasure in reading this report and continue to join me in supporting this wonderful organisation.

Chris Wareing


Oldham’s young people need our support now more than ever. 2020 has been one of the most challenging years, but I’m so proud of the way the Mahdlo team has pulled together to provide a vital lifeline for young people and their families during these unprecedented times.

The team is continually adapting its offer to be able to support and respond to the changing needs of our young people and our community. With a key priority to ensure young people and staff are safe, the team has done an exceptional job in offering a structured and targeted programme that continues to give young people somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.

Thank you to everyone that has supported Mahdlo this year. Your commitment means so much, it is valued and appreciated now more than ever.

However, an uncertain landscape ahead means that the services that Mahdlo provides, become even more vital, and to that end, nothing must be allowed to prevent the ongoing achievement of the targets that we have set for those whom we serve. Accordingly, it has never been more important to pull together to ensure that our work gains the recognition, support and funding required to continue and to serve our community.

I hope that you will take both pride and pleasure in reading this report and continue to join me in supporting this wonderful organisation.

Core Founder

Founder Patron

Premier Patron























Company Number: 6946098
Charity Number: 1134427

In Loving Memory of Mike Doran

12.09.1953 - 24.04.2020

It is with heavy hearts that in April 2020 we said goodbye to our Chief Executive, Mike Doran after he sadly passed away following a brave three-week battle with Covid-19.

This terrible virus has taken so much from so many, and for us, it took the driving force behind our fantastic organisation.

Mike was a tremendous individual and a fine leader. We will forever remember Mike’s humour and infectious personality, and we will not forget how he always advocated for his team, young people and inclusive provision for all.

Mike’s insistence for ‘excellence’ will always inspire us, and we will strive to make sure that every day Mahdlo continues to adopt his values of: Passion, Respect, Innovation, Dependability and Excellence. His dedication to the young people of Oldham was admirable; even after he became ill he was still planning to skydive again to raise money for our charity.

We have lost a dear friend and faithful colleague. Mike mattered in ways we will continue to discover in the future.

Forever in our hearts, rest in peace Mike.

Stoller Hall Performance Event

2020 marked the opening of The SPACE (The Stoller Performing Arts Centre of Excellence) at Mahdlo. Designed to accommodate the charity’s growing creative offer, the new extension aims to host showcase events at the Youth Zone, replicating the performances held in the summer of 2019 at Stoller Hall.

In what can only be described as an event to remember, Mahdlo presented the very best in performing arts talent from across Oldham at the renowned Stoller Hall. Youth Zone members supported by various partner organisations including the Royal Northern College of Music, Oldham Theatre Workshop and the Indian Dance Company plus many others, had a rare and unique opportunity to perform to a select audience.

Moving forward The SPACE will organise events, open mic nights, theatre performances, dance sessions and gigs for the borough’s young people.

Royal Albert Hall OnSide Network Event

Talented young people from Oldham took to the stage in November 2019 and performed alongside world-renowned artists to an audience of thousands and HRH Prince Harry at the OnSide Youth Zones Awards.

The ceremony, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, recognised young people’s exceptional achievements with awards presented to those who have made a real difference in their community, have breakthrough talent, or have overcome the most challenging of circumstances.

Kane Mousah Sports Event

MMA fighter Kane Mousah visited Mahdlo to share his incredible journey from being a Manchester gang member who served time in prison, to entrepreneur and international fighter in Bellator arenas around the world. At just 33 years old he has an incredible story to tell.

Kane told Youth Zone members of growing up around gangs, making the wrong choices, getting involved in serious violence and the negative impact on his life, including a nine year prison sentence for firearms offences. The event also enabled our Youth Workers to introduce positive activities such as music, enterprise, boxing and gym and connect these routines with issues of respect, personal achievement and healthy relationships.

Winter Ball Fundraising Event

Mahdlo’s annual Winter Ball 2019 raises a phenomenal £31,000 for the charity. Almost 200 people from the Oldham business community and beyond gathered to celebrate Mahdlo and the achievements of its members whilst digging deep and helping to raise vital funds.

Performing through painful experiences

Performing arts at Mahdlo is more than music, drama, dance and art; it is about expression and emotion through meaningful engagement.

2020 has been a challenging year for many. But for one young person at Mahdlo it has been life-altering. David lost his mother early during the pandemic.

The trauma of being present at such a sudden and heart-breaking incident has been overwhelming.

Navigating bereavement is a very real challenge that sadly many young people have had to deal with during lockdown. For David, he has been struggling to cope with the emotional impact of losing his mother and has bottled up his feelings causing severe anxiety.

Performing arts has been David’s safe haven. It has allowed him to articulate his current emotional state, whilst reducing the risk of triggering a traumatic response. Working hand in hand, creative learning and youth work have provided vital intervention and support to help David deal with these very raw emotions.

David has been taking part in a choir which began during lockdown with the aim of writing a song and has now transformed into what is affectionately known as “2020 The Musical.”

Lifeline during lockdown

Isolation and loneliness have been a reality for many during the pandemic lockdown, but for some young people the effects have had a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

Michael has accessed Mahdlo since 2016. With a passion for football he has thrived in the social environment offered by the Youth Zone, even becoming a Young Leader.

As a young person on the autistic spectrum, consistency and regular support is central to Michael’s development.

Maggie is a youth worker at Mahdlo supporting Michael and she said: “Michael has embraced the remote support offered by Mahdlo; it has been a lifeline for him during this really challenging time. However not being able to go out as he has done in the past, has severely affected his confidence and independence.

Recently Michael has been accessing 1-2-1 support and a regular mentor and is gradually integrating back into the Youth Zone.

Life after lockdown has been hard, but Michael is embracing getting back to the Youth Zone. It’s gentle steps, and his parents feel Mahdlo really understands this. We are working together to support Michael and get his confidence back.