Step Up To Serve

Dr Rania Marandos

Step Up To Serve, the time-limited charity that has coordinated the
#iwill Campaign for the last seven years.

Poverty, racism, sexism, health inequalities and climate change have been at the forefront of this past decade, even before Covid-19 hit our shores. But so have young people. They have been resolutely helping their communities, protesting to bring about urgent change and working together to create a brighter future.

We know that children and young people want to make the world a better place. We also know that they’re often prevented from doing that, asked to wait until they’re older and kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.

Over the last seven years, we’ve focused on creating high quality opportunities through organisations that were already part of the fabric of society, we’ve put decisions in the hands of young people, and we’ve started to shift the way that systems work. Have we succeeded in making participation in youth social action the norm for young people? Not yet. There's still much more to do if society as a whole is going to truly embrace the power of young people to make a positive difference.

But in many ways, such an ambitious vision was never going to be achieved in seven years. Meaningful, sustained change takes time, commitment and collective action. I'm proud that Step Up To Serve has been able to play a role in bringing you all together and showing the world what’s possible when we trust in the power of collaboration, across ages, sectors and countries.

Thanks to the collective power of #iwill, leaders across communities are nurturing, celebrating and empowering young people as active citizens. The teacher who recognises that agency leads to better learning; the nurse who welcomes young volunteers into their ward; the police officer who sees young people as community leaders; the funder who shapes solutions to complex problems alongside young people; the student who creates an eco-club at their school; the conservationist who builds a forest with children at its heart. The seeds of lasting change are growing tall in all corners of the UK - in schools, colleges, youth clubs, hospitals, charities, local and national governments, businesses and communities, online and offline.

We’re now setting out an even bolder vision that sees children and young people treated as partners - taken seriously as the thinkers, doers and communicators they are. Together we can dismantle the systems that stifle creativity, reward the status quo and leave people behind. By working in partnership with young people, we have a chance at solving the most pressing challenges that face society today.

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.

Remember that #iwill is in the hearts and minds of each and every one of you. You’re shaping the next chapter of #iwill. Together, we’re standing up for the right to be an active citizen - whatever your age.

Dr Rania Marandos, CEO of Step Up To Serve