There are many, many moments that make us proud as an organisation, but seeing our Social Action Leaders graduate from our UFA #iwill programme at a ceremony in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago has to be one of our highlights.
The #iwill programme, originally named ‘Step Up To Serve’, was launched by the Prince of Wales to encourage young people to participate in more social action projects. The aim is to see 50% of all young people10-20 year olds involved in social action by 2020.
There’s no doubt that social action has a lasting impact. It brings people together, it improves our local communities and it changes the lives of those who take part in social action projects, phenomenally. But for us, it really doesn’t end with the graduation of our Leaders.
We’ve pledged to make our tailored #iwill programme available to schools as a practical, in-depth course, so that they too can facilitate social action projects within their communities.
When we secured the government funding to run the #iwill campaign in Birmingham, we pledged to do things differently. And that, we did. We trained 15-18-year-olds to become Social Action Leaders and make a difference in their communities. And as part of their journey to becoming Leaders they had to engage younger peers on their mission – getting groups of 10-14 year-olds involved too. So our Social Action Leaders recruited younger ‘Changemakers’, thereby making this funding go that little bit further.
It was a bold move, but with our experience of working on NCS (National Citizen Service) social action projects and rolling out our Lead Learner programme, we were more than well-equipped.
We’ve seen a number of hugely inspiring projects in the last two years, from young people taking over a care home where they brought arts, crafts and laughter to residents, to the creation of internet safety leaflets for local children and various school holiday-based activities.
We’ve learnt a lot from this work and now we can help schools take their learning outside of the gates and into their local communities and really engage young people in the things that matter to them close to home.
These Social Action Leaders summed up their experience perfectly…
“I wanted to gain management skills. I seemed to be unorganised at times so I thought it was important to obtain such skills. I felt like I just had to meet new people: stepping out of my comfort zone and interacting with young great minds!”
“My role as a social action leader has increased my confidence and I have also gained many skills such as being able to explain things a lot more efficiently. This was a truly memorable experience.”
“I just felt as though teenagers weren’t being given an opportunity to try and feel part of their community, to feel as though they had the power to make a difference, so I felt as though this would be the perfect opportunity to do so.”
Congratulations to all who took part – you should be extremely proud.
We’ll bring you more details on our in-school courses soon…