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Totem was born in 2015 and was developed by the Connecting Youth Culture (CYC) team as a business with a social purpose, with all proceeds from Totem feeding back into the local council and the work we delivered through CYC. CYC was a youth arts project with its primary purpose to use the arts as a tool to work with vulnerable young people across North Yorkshire.

In October 2019, John, Charlie and Chris (the CYC team) decided to take the plunge and have gone it alone! The business might have developed somewhat but our ethos has stayed the same. At Totem we continue and strive to support our undeniable passion for Youth Work and the Environment. Now working alongside the Princess Trust, offering work experience and vital employability skills to vulnerable young people, and The National Forest, supporting their cause to plant 9 million trees.


We continue to work hard to run a business that is focussed on supporting local people and local issues.



Chris has worked with young people and studied youth work for pretty much all his life...he's worked at home and abroad, spending months developing a Youth Work Charity in India and spending 3 years (of which he calls his best!) working for Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) at the Freeman hospital in Newcastle. Chris joined CYC in 2016 after his stint with TCT and played a key role in developing youth arts in North Yorkshire but also Totem as a business! Whilst continuing to develop his youth work passion and being a parent to two young children, Chris heads up our marketing and logistics side of the business...basically sitting on social media all day or pointing to where tipis should go...sometimes both at the same time! 


Charlie has worked running festivals and events for the majority of her career. Developing the once renowned CULTURESHOCK Festival in North Yorkshire, which attracted thousands of young people year on year. a Totem founding member Charlie now manages the day to day operations at Totem Tipi, working with couples to create bespoke weddings and events. Charlie has 3 young children which makes for a crazy but exciting work life balance!



John’s background is in the arts, he started his career working in the TV industry in London before moving North to start working with disadvantaged young people using the arts to improve their lives.  John for many years was manager at Connecting Youth Culture overseeing thousands of workshops for young people which used a variety of different arts forms. John also managed the team that used tipi’s for outdoor events across North Yorkshire before becoming a fellow Totem founder.  John is married and has two children who are in their twenties. John and his wife Annette are also foster carers and have been fostering children for 4 years.