Realising
the power
of youth together

p l a y w i t h s o u n d

The Growth of a Movement

Growth of a Movement
Children and young people aren’t just the leaders of tomorrow. They are using their energy, skills and ideas to change our world for the better today.

As a society we face an unprecedented set of challenges. Poverty, the climate emergency, worsening mental health & wellbeing, social and economic inequalities, racial injustice. Challenges that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic have been exacerbated by it. In the face of these challenges, young people across the UK are taking part in social action - any activity that helps others or the environment, they’re making an impact on the issues that count. But too often, their voices are excluded; and their power to make a positive difference isn’t recognised.

Over the past seven years, we have built a movement for change.

As a country, we still fail to recognise, harness or celebrate the power of young people to make a positive difference to all of our lives. This has to change. Thanks to the collective efforts of the #iwill campaign, a movement of over 1,000 organisations, and over 700 young #iwill Ambassadors and Champions. Together we have laid the foundations to ensure all children and young people are supported and empowered to make a positive difference on the issues that affect their lives, their communities, and broader society. When the #iwill campaign launched in 2013, so too did Step Up To Serve - the small charity coordinating it. Step Up To Serve was set up to be a time-limited organisation and will close its doors, as planned, at the end of 2020. But the organisations and young people that make up the #iwill movement are clear that the work is not finished. They believe that at this time of national & global crisis, their work to empower more young people from diverse backgrounds to take positive social action has never been more important. Told by leaders of all ages who have galvanised progress in all sectors and across the entire UK - this is a snapshot of the #iwill story so far. You’ll hear about the challenges ahead too - there’s still more to do, and there’s a part you can play in achieving it.

The #iwill movement will continue, and so will the #PowerOfYouth...

Where we've
come from

2012
Independent Review
Collaboration across sectors

Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO CBE and Amanda Jordan OBE were asked by David Cameron, the Prime Minister at the time, to review how sectors could work together to support young people to engage in social action. They looked at the Government itself, alongside education, business and voluntary sectors.

It was the recommendations of the report they produced that led to the creation of the #iwill campaign - to “bring all sectors together to contribute to making our country a place where the majority of young people are involved in social action and are encouraged, recognised and valued for their contribution to society.”

2013
Westminster
Step Up To Serve and #iwill launch

Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO CBE and Amanda Jordan OBE co-founded the #iwill Campaign. HRH The Prince of Wales, as patron, joined the three main Party Leaders in Westminster to launch Step Up To Serve and the #iwill campaign at Buckingham Palace in November 2013. They came together with children and young people passionate about social action, and leaders across sectors.

The co-founders knew that to create sustained behaviour change, all sectors, not just the government of the day, needed to commit to supporting the movement. It would also require cross-party support, and a bold ambitious goal to drive momentum and provide a sense of possibility. This goal was to ‘double the number of young people aged 10-20 years old taking part in meaningful youth social action by the end of 2020’. In real terms this would mean roughly 60% of young people would be participating.

2014
Campaign Kick-off
Goal setting

Once the campaign kicked-off, the first goal was to get a better understanding of what youth social action was already happening across the UK. Together with initial #iwill partner organisations and young people, the campaign set about defining youth social action, finding where it was already being done well, and assessing the challenges ahead.

This led to the development of the six quality principles of youth social action, an understanding of the double benefit, and the National Youth Social Action Survey (NYSAS) in 2014.

As this new evidence emerged, it became clear that factors other than just the number of young people participating required attention, and so the target of 60% participation shifted. In particular the survey revealed that young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are around 20% less likely to participate in social action. So the #iwill campaign’s goals became more refined to focus on closing the socio-economic gap in participation; improving the quality of opportunities; finding sustainable solutions to help young people develop a habit for life and make youth social action the norm for all young people.

2014
Recruitment
50 inspiring ambassadors

In 2014, the first cohort of #iwill Ambassadors were recruited. These 50 inspiring young people from across the UK - from the age of 10-20, of all backgrounds and interests - were profiled in order to demonstrate the breadth and diversity of youth social action.

Since 2014, #iwill Ambassadors have played an increasingly integral role in the campaign. Through #iwill Steering Groups and the Step Up To Serve Trustee Board, opportunities to work with partners, and the campaign’s communications, they have inspired many #iwill partners to grow the #PowerOfYouth. In recent years, they’ve been meaningfully involved in the production of the #iwill strategy beyond 2020, and the #PowerOfYouth Charter.

There is now a 700-strong cohort of young people leading the campaign as #iwill Ambassadors and #iwill Champions. You can read more about their journey in Leaders of Now: The #iwill Ambassador Story.

2015
Education
Creating a culture

Embedding youth social action in education was a priority from the start. The National Youth Social Action survey data confirmed that most young people get involved in social action through their school or college.

In 2015, 100 leaders from 50 schools and colleges came together to better understand what common principles help to create a culture in which all students were empowered to take action on real-world issues. These pioneering school and college leaders spread their collective vision and practice through their peer-to-peer networks and together shaped national policy.

2015
Private Sector
CIPD Support

Throughout the early years of the campaign, the #iwill Business Pioneers started to develop a blueprint for what the private sector could do in support of the #iwill vision. Many recognised the value of youth social action, and the multiple benefits it gave young people in making the transition to employment - as well as the value of having young people involved in decision making.

In 2015, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) supported the campaign to articulate the benefits of holistically integrating youth social action in recruitment processes. Centrica supported Generation Change to prototype an interactive mapping tool of structured youth social action opportunities across the country. This work proved instrumental for the #iwill Fund as they now capture similar data on the creation of new youth social action opportunities across the 25 match funders.

Whilst the work with businesses started with ambition, and businesses have continued to invest in the work of Step Up To Serve throughout its lifetime, not enough progress has been made to put business at the heart of the #iwill movement. As we navigate an uncertain future and economy, it is crucial that more business leaders invest in and work with young people to shape a brighter future.

2016
Secure funding
Investing in the future

This year saw the #iwill campaign successfully secure buy-in from Government and The National Lottery Community Fund to build a new fund to help achieve the campaign’s goals. The fund began with an initial investment of £40m, which had a longer-term vision for collaboration, learning and sustainability at its heart.The #iwill Fund has gone on to create a partnership with 25 match funders and will have invested almost £100m by the time it spends out in 2023.

During this time, however, wider investment in services and opportunities for young people has declined. The youth sector, as just one example, has seen a 70% real terms loss of funding to the sector since 2010/11. These funding losses have meant the loss of the infrastructure that surrounds young people and supports them to be able to meaningfully participate in youth social action.

2017
Focus
Younger age ranges

Launching at the 2017 #iwill Ambassadors welcome event, new research from the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues helped shift the focus of the #iwill campaign towards the younger age ranges, supporting organisations to start early in order to make a ‘habit for life’.

The research, drawing on insights from over 4,500 young people surveyed, found that starting social action before the age of 10 makes you more than twice as likely to develop a habit than if you start at age 16. As a result, the #iwill Fund prioritised investing in under-14s and more funders came on board to open up opportunities for the younger ages.

2018
NHS 70
Involving young people in health and care

To mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, the #iwill campaign worked closely with NHS England and the NHS Youth Forum to promote the role of youth social action in the health and care sectors.

The role of youth social action in supporting the future of the NHS was further cemented in the NHS Long Term Plan, pledging to grow the number of young volunteers and acknowledged that volunteering enables young people to develop skills and experience for work and education. This work continues to grow from strength to strength, spearheaded by the work of NHS Trusts in involving young people in health and care settings.

2018 also saw Public Health England pledge support to the campaign, and endorse the benefits of youth volunteering in improving the health and wellbeing of young people and their communities.

2019
#iwill4nature
Year of Green Action

In January 2019, organisations came together at ZSL London Zoo to launch #iwill4nature, a year of focused action on the environment as part of Defra’s Year of Green Action. This followed the publication of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan in 2018, which committed to “helping children and young people from all backgrounds to engage with nature and improve the environment”.

Amidst the global youth climate strikes, and millions of young people demanding urgent action to address the climate crisis, 2019 saw The Woodland Trust launch the first forest created and shaped by children and young people. During the Big Climate Fightback, children and young people came together with their wider communities to plant over 10,000 trees at the Young People’s Forest.

2019
Youth Charter
Young people's voices

Following extensive lobbying coordinated by the #iwill campaign’s Scale & Reach Group in April 2019, Downing Street and the DCMS announced their commitment to the creation of a Youth Charter - a cross-departmental offer for young people, which promised to ensure young people’s voices were heard when shaping policy. The Scale & Reach Group, bringing together youth sector leaders and young people, has since continued to develop, with a Back Youth Alliance now meeting regularly to collaborate, share learnings and lobby together.

In autumn of the same year, this was followed by an announcement from the Government of the Youth Investment Fund, a £500m commitment across the life of the next Parliament to build and refurbish youth centres, invest in youth workers, and create enrichment opportunities for young people.

2020
COVID-19
young people respond

The COVID-19 pandemic gripped the globe, exacerbating existing societal challenges, with huge consequences for children and young people in terms of education, mental health, employment, and much more.

Despite these many challenges, young people across the UK proved that they could continue to help build a better future. Whether offering peer support, volunteering in healthcare settings, or connecting with isolated community members, young people have continued to make a huge difference.

#iwill partners and young people came together to campaign for the #PowerOfYouth throughout the pandemic, collaborating to ensure all young people could access support, take action, be heard and be celebrated.

2020
Power of Youth Charter
Carrying the torch

Moving into 2020 and the agreed time-limit on Step Up To Serve drawing nearer, it was heard loud and clear from organisations and young people that they wanted to continue to build on the #iwill campaign’s momentum. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, #iwill ambassadors and partners we asked the campaign’s collective work on #iwill was still relevant, and if so, how? What should the next five years of the #iwill movement look like? They were clear that the momentum created over the past seven years must continue and that growing the power of young people has never been needed more.

In Autumn 2020, the Power of Youth Charter was launched to encourage existing #iwill partners to recommit, and encourage new organisations to join the movement.

Introductions

iWill Co-Founders
iWill Ambassador
iWill Partner
Step Up To Serve
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Dame Julia Cleverdon and Amanda Jordan

We always wanted to increase funding, but never in our wildest dreams envisaged a 25 funder-strong collaboration investing £100 million in youth social action, enlisting match funders and young people as equal partners in its allocation...

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Alvin Owusu-Fordwuo

My time with #iwill has been completely transformative. It’s put me into rooms where decisions are made - places where I didn’t think I belonged. #iwill has given me the strength to believe in myself and what I have to offer the world...

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Nick Perchard, Premier League

Working with #iwill has been an exciting process. I’ve been struck by the way that it has brought people together from so many different organisations, creating a genuine movement for change...

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Dr Rania Marandos

It’s been the privilege of my life to be part of this #iwill journey. I have especially cherished the time I’ve spent with #iwill Ambassadors and in communities across the country. I’ve seen what’s possible when we truly embrace the power of young people - their energy, creativity of thought and passion for justice. When you delve into these stories, you will see this too...

Read more

Our impactis tangible

What haschanged

IMG
1/
Growing a
Movement
2/
Influencing
Strategies
3/
Stimulating
Investment
4/
Growing
Evidence
5/
Amplifying
Impact
Growing a
Movement

More organisations and young people are working together to grow the power of youth

From 50 pledging organisations in 2013, #iwill has grown into a fully-fledged movement with support from over 1,000 pledging organisations and over 700 young people as #iwill Ambassadors and Champions across the UK1.

As a result of being part of the campaign, 86% of #iwill campaign partners say that youth social action is now more embedded into their culture and practice. 90% strongly agree/agree that growing the power of youth will be an important part of their organisation's culture and practice in the future2. (partner survey 2020)

Since 2016, there has been a 25% increase in the number of teachers saying that youth social action is part of their school’s culture and practice to 73% in 20183. 30 NHS trusts across the UK are now recruiting young volunteers in hospital and primary care settings, with the potential to create over 2,250 new volunteering opportunities4.

Influencing
Strategies

We’ve changed national strategies to empower more young people to make a positive difference

We’ve changed national strategies to empower more young people to make a positive difference

The national strategies influenced by #iwill span the education, health and social care, and environment sectors.

The campaign inspired Ofsted, an #iwill partner since 2014, to incorporate social action into its inspection framework5. Likewise, our work with the Department for Education led to new guidance for schools highlighting the critical role that volunteering and service plays in pupils’ character education6.

Following its involvement with #iwill, NHS England has committed to youth social action in its Long Term Plan, with CEO Sir Simon Stevens stating that “...the campaign has been instrumental in championing the positive role young people can play in the NHS”7.

Defra’s involvement in the #will campaign ensured that growing participation in ‘green’ youth social action is now part of the government’s 25-year environment plan8.

DCMS showed its support for the #iwill by launching new youth voice initiatives to shape national policy, including ‘Involved’ a platform for 13-25 year olds to influence the Government’s decision making9, and a youth steering group - now on its second cohort - that advises on policy, including the development of the 2020 Environment Bill10.

62% of #iwill partners say they have prioritised working with young people in their organisation's strategy as a result of being part of the #iwill Campaign11.

Stimulating
Investment

We’ve stimulated £100m collaborative investment into youth social action

We’ve stimulated £100m collaborative investment into youth social action

The unique structure of the #iwill Fund has brought together funding from Government, the National Lottery Community Fund and a diverse group of 25 Match Funders to invest £100m into youth social action in England12.

So far the Fund has created around 330,000 social action opportunities. Of these, 55% have gone to young people aged 13 and under, and 67% have gone to those from the 40% most deprived areas in England13.

Funded opportunities range from national programmes such as the Premier League Kicks programme14 to hyper-local projects, such as ‘We Will’, a youth-led mental health project in Ewanrigg, Cumbria15.

Including opportunities still in development, it’s estimated that the Fund will have enabled 582,000 children and young people to engage in social action opportunities, and a further 500,000 through social action online resources by March 202316.

Growing
Evidence

We have grown the body of evidence about the benefits of high-quality youth social action

We have grown the body of evidence about the benefits of high-quality youth social action

Since 2014, over 10,000 young people have shared their perspectives on youth social action through the annual National Youth Social Action Survey. In 2019, results reminded us that 88% of young people care about making the world a better place; and 74% believe they could make a difference - we just need to give them the opportunity to do so17.

Research shows that young people who first get involved in service to others under the age of 10 are more than twice as likely to form a habit of social action than if they start between the ages of 16-1818.

We also know more about the benefits for young people that come from participating in social action. It leads to greater levels of wellbeing19; has been shown to reduce anxiety by over a fifth20; can boost educational attainment and non-cognitive outcomes21; and enables participants to develop key employability skills22.

Amplifying
Impact

Together we have amplified the voices of young people and celebrated their impact

Together we have amplified the voices of young people and celebrated their impact

As a result of being part of the campaign, 76% of partners say they are celebrating the impact young people are making, and 56% have created leadership roles for young people within their organisation.23

Young people themselves are playing an active leadership role across the #iwill campaign, co-chairing all of our steering groups24. There are now also over 700 young people directly engaging with the #iwill campaign to advocate for youth social action as #iwill Ambassadors or Champions. In the 2020 #iwil Ambassador Survey, 100% of respondents agreed that they have spread the word about youth social action whilst being a part of the campaign25.

#iwill has enabled young people to make their voices heard in a variety of ways. Our #iwill Ambassador programme has provided a platform for young people to share their views on key societal issues and how they are taking action in national and local broadcast, print, radio and online media26.

“Being an Ambassador gives me a platform to speak out on issues which are personally important to me. Whether it is in a focus group, steering group or APPG. #iwill has given Ambassadors a platform in front of adults and professionals so that they can finally see how serious we are.” Sarah, 20.

“Being an #iwill Ambassador is really important to me because it gives so many incredible opportunities and has really helped me to grow as a person and to help inspire other young people. The #iwill campaign has offered me ways to raise my voice and given me a platform that I will be eternally grateful for.” Esther, 14.

In addition, for the last seven years, campaign partners and young people have joined together to celebrate and amplify the power of youth during #iwill Week and Volunteers’ Week. In #iwillWeek 2019 alone, the #iwillWeek and #PowerOfYouth hashtags were seen nearly 100 million times27.

and we can see it across the sectors and the UK:
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There's still a Challenge Ahead

Culture shift takes time

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Unprecedented
challenges ahead
2/
Invest in
young people
3/
Nothing about us
without us
4/
Shift public
perception
5/
Commit to
#iwill
Unprecedented challenges ahead
Unprecedented challenges ahead

Vast societal & environmental challenges lie ahead

Children & young people must be at the heart of this recovery

As a society, we face an unprecedented set of challenges. Poverty, the climate emergency, worsening mental health and wellbeing, social and economic inequalities, racial injustice. Challenges that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic have been further exacerbated - and the future has never felt more uncertain.

We know that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on children and young people, yet too often they have been either scapegoated or ignored. This has to change. We cannot ‘build back better’ without them.

Statistics in Graphic:

Invest in
young people

Investment is needed to empower more young people

Too many young people are still not empowered to be active citizens & investment into young people is drying up

Too many young people, particularly from low-income backgrounds, still do not take part in youth social action, despite their desire to make a positive difference.

There has been a slow downward trend in participation in youth social action since 2015. If you are from a poorer background, you are still less likely to take part in social action.

Average government spending per 16-24 year old in England has fallen from £142 in 2011/12 to just £56 in 2018/19 – down 60%. And with the #iwill Fund set to finish in 2023, further investment will be needed to ensure more young people and communities benefit from high quality youth social action.

Statistics in Graphic:

Nothing about us
without us

Too many young people are excluded from the decisions and actions taken on issues that they care about.

We need children and young people across the UK to be supported and empowered to make a positive difference on the issues that affect their lives, their communities, and broader society.

We can’t keep making decisions about young people without young people. By failing to support them to make a positive difference, we all lose out as a result. Young people’s views are still not adequately represented when decisions are made.

Statistics in Graphic:

Shift public
perception

Public perception of young people needs to change

The wider public need to recognise the role children & young people can play in society

As a country, we still fail to recognise, harness or celebrate the power of young people to make a positive difference to all of our lives.

Young people are not simply the leaders of tomorrow. They have the energy, talent and ideas to make a positive difference today.

Statistics in Graphic:

Commit to
#iwill

More organisations must take action to grow the power of youth

More organisations need to join the #iwill movement and commit to meaningfully working in partnership with young people.

Based on insights gathered from #iwill campaign partners and #iwill Ambassadors, the Power of Youth Charter provides a framework for your organisation to empower more young people to shape decisions, take social action and make a positive difference.

Statistics in Graphic:

  • All - #iwill Partner Survey 2020
Nick Parker

Young people are a precious resource to be respected and nurtured and yet we, the middle-aged establishment of our country, are not taking them seriously.

We tend to ignore and at worst belittle the young voice. Of course, age gives us wisdom and the right to make decisions, but we will fail if we believe that our responsibility is simply to teach the young.

Young people rightly observe that they feel patronised by the powerful who often make a great play of listening and then do nothing. To shape our future, we have to forge a genuine partnership with the young and invest heavily to improve the lot of those who are disadvantaged.

Since the onset of the pandemic the need to address this critical issue has been amplified and yet the response has been pitiful. We now have an opportunity to work towards a better future with young people at its heart.

General Sir Nick Parker KCB CBE, Chair of Step Up To Serve

Lanai Collins-Phillips

Long before this global pandemic, so many young people were already living in extremely tough circumstances, suffering from the impact of a range of inequalities and trauma such as austerity, unemployment and forms of abuse.

Similarly, the Black Lives Matter campaign had been fighting for equality long before Covid-19, but the horrific murder of our brother George Floyd caused a mainstream re-emergence of the movement. His life is one too many lost, but we know the number of those who have died and those who are suffering as a result of racism is sickeningly high. By fighting for an end to structural inequalities and the systemic effects of racism, we will all benefit.

That’s why youth social action is more important than ever. Despite many young people facing barriers that grow all around them as they get older, it can provide them with higher aspirations, and the mobility and opportunities to achieve those goals.

Lanai Collis-Phillips, #iwill Ambassador

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and we can see it across the sectors and the UK:
Choose your section

The future of the #iwill movement

As the nation faces an unprecedented set of challenges, 2021 is a pivotal moment for the #iwill campaign. We are building on the achievements over the past seven years and growing the #iwill movement, because our shared values of collaboration, empowerment and inclusion have never been more important.

Right now, children and young people are helping build a better future for us all. We are committed to placing an even greater focus on reaching out and supporting young people from low-income and black and minority ethnic backgrounds to shape decisions.

It’s time for young people to be recognised as part of the solution. They have the energy, talent and ideas to lead positive change.

#iwill beyond 2020 marks an evolution

Over the past 16 months, #iwill Ambassadors and #iwill campaign partners working in different sectors and across the country have come together to explore how we can build on the legacy for the last seven years and continue to empower young people to take social action beyond 2020.

The overwhelming feedback has been that organisations and young people want to continue to work together under the #iwill banner with renewed focus and drive, sharing the seats of power equally with young people and making sure that children & young people are an essential part of helping solve the challenges we all face in the future.

Our vision for the future remains unwaveringly ambitious

Our shared belief is that all children and young people should be supported and empowered to make a positive difference on the issues that affect their lives, their communities, and broader society.

We will collaborate to achieve this vision, and drive progress towards four impact goals:

#iwill movement powered by the Power of Youth Charter

The Power of Youth Charter provides a framework for organisations to empower more young people to shape decisions, take social action and make a positive difference.

Signing-up to the Power of Youth Charter has to be more than a token gesture. Organisations will be making a public commitment and taking meaningful action to support more children and young people to be active citizens. Charter signatories will outline specific actions that they will take in order to deliver on the five key commitments within the Charter.

Sign the Power of Youth Charter

#iwill Partnership will guide the #iwill movement in the future

The #iwill movement’s collective efforts will be guided by groups of committed leaders from different sectors and nations. These sector and devolved nation groups have been running since 2014 and will continue to drive the power of youth. Their purpose has been renewed in 2020 and their commitment to sharing the seats of power equally with young people demonstrated by their change in membership - Now 50% young people, with a co-chair under 25.

The co-chairs of these sector and devolved nation groups will come together to form the #iwill Partnership - a new, UK-wide, cross-sector group, co-chaired by an influential leader and young person. The #iwill Partnership will ensure the whole movement collaboratively drives progress on the 4 #iwill Impact Goals, upholds the values of #iwill and supports collaboration to achieve our shared vision.

With thanks to...

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