From November 2017 to June 2018 Mary’s Youth Club participated in London Youth’s flagship social action and leadership programme. This four stage programme is designed to develop and enhance the confidence, networks and leadership skills of participants. The young people involved were not restricted by themes but must display a tangible benefit to other young people and the community at large.

Five young people of different ages from 12 - 17 years old expressed interest in taking part in the programme. The group was made up of varying skills sets, interest and engagement level with the youth club. Amanda, not only new to the youth club but also the youngest out of the group. She came to the youth club looking to build her confidence, and more importantly to meet new friends. The rest of the team was made up of longtime members Tyler, Janice, Nancy & Angelette. During the second phase of the programme, the young people developed a video project on body positivity coupled with a session on body positivity for the young people at Mary’s. Through the third stage, the young people focused on youth homelessness and partnered with The Pilion Trust to provide hope to the young people that access their services to provide them with 45 backpacks filled with essential items.

Participating in City Leaders, the young people were able to work and enhance their presentation and communication skills through pitching their ideas to an audience of young people, youth workers and a panel of London Youth judges. The young people involved were challenged to be open to feedback from peers and staff, to conduct research on the theme topic of choice and about the needs of other young people living or studying in the borough of Islington.

As a result of this experience, they have learnt many skills like communication, presenting, teamwork, budgeting and leadership. Developing skills like these have allowed the young people to reference or call upon this experience to evidence to future employers the skills sets required to complete projects from idea to fruition. But more importantly, for themselves to better realise and understand that they can accomplish things with the right mindset and support.

Throughout the programme Amanda learnt skills such as research, budgeting, filmmaking, presenting and pitching. She went on to achieve AQAs in Designing, Planning and Delivering a Social Action Project and Basic Teamwork Skills. Over the past year, Amanda continued to volunteer with monthly volunteering opportunities, supporting the work and causes of local non-profits, from baking cookies to thank community partners and organisations for supporting Mary’s work during National Thank You Week, and to make sandwiches for St Stephen The Manna. Being involved has made her a more driven and confident person, as it’s made her realise that by working with others to achieve a common goal, young people can make a difference.

We are not here to help ourselves, but to help other people

The young people were happy to see the project come to life. Especially for those young people that were not part of the research and design of the community stage project, they were able to understand the issues that exist amongst them in the borough of Islington, and how they are able to make an impact.

All contributions towards our work go towards extending these opportunities to more young people.