Joshua Pelled: Bridging the Gap Between Illness and Education

Changing lives is a profound responsibility, especially when those lives are in vulnerable situations. Joshua Pelled, the CEO and Founder of Bright Futures UK, understands this responsibility firsthand. His journey is one of survival, resilience, and a deep commitment to helping children and young people facing long-term medical conditions.

Bright Futures UK is more than just a non-profit charity organization; it’s the embodiment of Joshua’s personal experience. Twice in his life, he battled and triumphed over cancer. Both times, he found himself in school, only to have his education interrupted by surgeries, treatments, and recovery. Each diagnosis meant losing a year of schooling and the social connections that came with it. Joshua recalls the challenges he faced, saying, “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.”

Out of these challenges arose the vision for Bright Futures UK, the first organization of its kind in the UK, designed to bridge the gap between illness and education. Joshua’s personal experiences inspired him to create an organization that could directly support young people facing similar situations, whether dealing with mental health issues or physical illnesses. Bright Futures UK collaborates with NHS trusts, local authorities, and other charities to provide this essential bridge.

At its core, Bright Futures UK is a grassroots organization with four main services: Tutoring, Mentoring, Befriending, and Workshops. What sets these programs apart is their tailor-made approach. Recognizing that no two young people face illness in the same way, Joshua emphasizes, “No illness affects young people the same, so why should the service we provide take a cookie-cutter approach.”

All of Bright Futures UK’s services are delivered by dedicated volunteers with specific skills or qualifications relevant to the needs of the young people they serve. The organization provides comprehensive training and support to ensure both the volunteers and the young people have the best possible experience.

Joshua Pelled’s journey from cancer survivor to founder of Bright Futures UK is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the profound impact one individual can have on the lives of others. Through his organization, he is bridging the gap between illness and education, offering hope, support, and a brighter future to countless young people.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

A Personal Journey to Success

Success is a deeply personal concept, and its definition varies from person to person. For Joshua, success is intrinsically tied to one’s life experiences, evolving over different stages of life.

To him, success means finding fulfillment in both professional and personal realms. This perspective is rooted in his own life journey, having overcome cancer twice during his youth. This experience has imparted a profound sense of perspective, highlighting the importance of dedicating time to activities that bring joy. Joshua firmly believes that spending time on endeavors one doesn’t enjoy can be counterproductive and lead to unhappiness.

Passionate about the growth of Bright Futures UK, Joshua sees immense potential in the organization’s future. He appreciates the significance of the positive impact their services have and remains inspired by their ongoing success.

Embracing Change and Overcoming Challenges

The early stages of any business, including non-profits, are often riddled with challenges. According to Joshua, one of the most valuable lessons he has learned is the importance of never settling. Instead, he emphasizes the need to continually evaluate processes, provisions, and personnel, always seeking ways for improvement. Celebrating successes is crucial, but it should go hand in hand with the drive to reach the next level of growth and impact.

Like many organizations, Bright Futures UK faced an unprecedented challenge in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a formidable obstacle that tested the organization’s resilience to its limits. However, rather than succumbing to adversity, Bright Futures UK saw an opportunity for growth and emerged from the pandemic even stronger. This resilience was made possible by the team’s ability to embrace change and adapt continuously. Without a relentless commitment to improvement, the organization might not have navigated the challenges of the pandemic as effectively as it did.

Guiding Bright Futures

As the CEO of Bright Futures UK (BFUK), Joshua takes on the critical responsibility of setting the organization’s strategic direction and ensuring the team functions seamlessly to achieve its goals. He places great importance on the role of his senior leadership team in working collaboratively toward a common mission. Joshua is actively involved in various aspects of the charity, including fundraising, development, and administration.

What sets BFUK apart, according to Joshua, is the profound impact of their work, which serves as a powerful motivator for every team member, regardless of their role within the organization. He places a strong emphasis on creating a work environment where each team member feels valued and comfortable. This, in turn, reinforces the team’s dedication to BFUK’s mission.

For Joshua, it is essential that every member of the team is motivated and inspired by the work they do. Whether they are directly involved in frontline activities or supporting the organization behind the scenes, their collective efforts make a significant difference in shaping the future of young people.

Balancing Passion and Personal Life

Maintaining a work-life balance can be a challenge, especially for passionate leaders with ambitious goals. Joshua acknowledges the difficulty but sees it as a natural consequence of his deep commitment to his work, which often extends into his personal life. Instead of viewing this as a negative aspect, he considers himself fortunate to be working in an area that he is genuinely passionate about.

Joshua’s typical day revolves around collaborating with his team, attending meetings, and managing administrative tasks. In the evenings, he endeavors to socialize, whether it involves meeting with patrons for a drink or enjoying dinner with friends. For him, the blending of personal and professional life serves as a motivating factor to engage his personal network in supporting the inspiring work of Bright Futures UK. Whether it’s participating in fundraising events or encouraging friends to volunteer and contribute to the betterment of young people, Joshua integrates his personal life with his dedication to the charity’s mission.

Bridging the Educational Gap

Joshua Pelled envisions Bright Futures UK as the leading organization dedicated to supporting children and young people across the United Kingdom who face challenges in returning to education after experiencing long-term or chronic illnesses. His goal is to establish Bright Futures UK as a national charity that collaborates closely with the NHS, statutory services, and educational institutions to ensure that illness no longer becomes a barrier preventing young individuals from realizing their full potential.

Under Joshua’s leadership, Bright Futures UK aims to extend its online services to reach a national audience while strategically expanding its physical presence to key locations throughout the UK. This approach ensures that young people, regardless of their geographical location, can access the support they need, whether it be in-person or through online channels. Joshua is dedicated to making Bright Futures UK a beacon of hope for young individuals seeking to overcome the challenges of illness and pursue their educational aspirations.