5 Ways Your Organisation can Embrace the Power of Young People

What more can organisations do to embed youth social action into their culture and practice?

This is a question we get asked a lot by #iwill campaign supporters, and luckily for you we have a handy checklist of the 5 things you can do to fully embrace the POWER of young people to make a difference in our society.

Before we get started, if you’re not convinced that organisations should support youth social action, you can find out why youth social action makes sense for young people, for organisations and for communities.

Here are the 5 ways to embed youth social action:

  1. Prioritise youth social action
  2. Offer opportunities for young people to lead
  3. Work together
  4. Evaluate impact
  5. Recognise and celebrate young people

1. Prioritise Youth Social Action

This means incorporating youth social action into your organisational strategy and initiatives, considering how to prioritise the growth of quality social action opportunities that reach all young people, regardless of their background.

In practice this can include:

  • Explicitly reference supporting youth social action within your organisational strategy or policies
  • Developing a plan to:
    • increase the quality of youth social action opportunities your organisation provides
    • engage more young people from low-income backgrounds to participate in youth social action (currently young people from lower-income backgrounds are significantly less likely to have access to youth social action opportunities)
    • engage younger age groups to participate in youth social action
  • Stipulate support for youth social action within your procurement requirements
  • Incorporate youth social action into your existing curriculum/ programmes/ calendar of activities for young people

Who’s doing this well?

Defra have committed to supporting youth social action, as part of their 25 year plan to improve the environment.

The Centre for Youth Impact’s impact accelerator supports organisations
that deliver youth social action to measure and improve their outcomes in a rigorous way.

Lapage have taken a whole-school approach to embedding youth social action in their curricular and extra-curricular delivery.

Co-op Foundation is working with youth social action charity Envision to embed their Community Apprentice programme into Co-op Academies Trust schools.

The NHS have committed to supporting youth social action in their Long Term Plan.

For more case studies from #iwill campaign partners prioritising social action well, click here.

2. Offer Opportunities for Young People to Lead

Supporting young people into leadership roles within your organisation (e.g. on trustee boards, advisory groups, etc.) can enrich and enhance decision-making.

In practice this can include:

  • Recruiting youth advisors or ambassadors
  • Recruiting young people on to your governing (trustee, council, governor) board
  • Creating a youth advisory panel or shadow board
  • Inviting a young person on to your commissioning and procurement panel
  • Involving young people in decision making more broadly

Who’s doing this well?

British Youth Council have only young Trustees on their Board.

Step Up To Serve recruit a number of Trustee Board members aged under 25.

Young voices are woven into the fabric of decision-making through the Spirit of 2012 Youth Advisory Panel.

Co-op Foundation invites young people to take part in panels assessing funding applications, giving them a say on how their grants are allocated.

Virgin Money Foundation’s youth advisory panel led a culture shift in how they deliver funds for the whole foundation.

#iwill Take Action Fund Youth Advisory Panel from Virgin Money Foundation on Vimeo.

For more case studies on how #iwill campaign partners are offering opportunities for young people, click here.

3. Work Together

Working collaboratively with #iwill campaign partners, funders and schools will enable your organisation to pool knowledge, expertise and resource to enhance the quality, scale and reach of opportunities provided.

In practice this can include:

  • Collaborating with education organisations to embed youth social action activities where young people already are
  • Collaborating with uniformed and youth organisations to grow the scale and reach of youth social action opportunities
  • Closer collaboration with #iwill campaign partners to promote, celebrate and grow youth social action
  • Collaborating with or between funding organisations to support youth social action
  • Exploring whether your organisation can fund others to grow youth social action

Who’s doing this well?

Scouts and NCS have a partnership to enhance current opportunities and reach more disadvantaged areas.

Pears Foundation are funding other organisations, such as the NHS, to grow youth social action.

The #iwill Fund has enabled growth of youth social action opportunities through a funding partnership between The National Lottery Community Foundation, DCMS and 27 other organisations.

Global Action Plan have worked in partnership with organisations such as WWF and RSPB to deliver the online social action platform, Transform Our World.

For more case studies on how #iwill campaign partners are working together, click here.

4. Evidence Impact

Assessing the benefits for young people and the impact they are having on their communities is important to demonstrate the value of youth social action to funders, your board and the public.

Measurements could include:

  • The number of quality youth social action opportunities provided
  • The proportion of opportunities that meet six principles of high quality youth social action
  • The proportion of young people from low-income backgrounds engaging in those opportunities
  • The proportion of younger people (e.g. below 14) engaging in those opportunities
  • The impact of youth social action on the young people participating (e.g. social mobility, attainment etc.)
  • The impact of youth social action on their communities

Who’s doing this well?

The Youth United Foundation report by ComRes shows the positive impact of uniformed youth activity and social action on social integration.

The NHS Forum Youth Impact report shows the impact of YSA on young people and on the NHS.

The Youth Sport Trust’s Active Across Ages inter-generational project is being fully evaluated, and has already revealed that it’s helped 40% of the young people taking part to feel less lonely.

The Education Endowment Foundation toolkit shows the impact of youth social action on essential life skills which was supported in randomised controlled trials led by the Education Endowment Foundation of the youth social action programmes at Children’s University and Youth United.

For more case studies on how #iwill campaign partners are evaluating and communicating impact, click here.

5. Recognise and Celebrate Young People

Recognising the impact of young people can support recruitment and retention of young volunteers and assist organisational buy-in to maintain or grow its focus on youth social action.

In practice this can include:

  • Developing case studies illustrating the impact of young volunteers
  • Having your own young ambassador programme, so that young people can act as role models to their peers and promote youth social action
  • Recognising the impact of young people through Young Volunteer/ Campaigner/ Fundraiser of the Year awards
  • Supporting youth ‘takeovers’ of social media/ communication channels so that they can discuss their social action experiences
  • Extending media and speaking opportunities to young people who engage in youth social action
  • Explicitly referencing your support for youth social action/the #iwill campaign on your website
  • Referencing youth social action within annual reviews and evaluation reports
  • Sharing your impact during Youth Social Action Day and #iwill week by including items in your communications, hosting events to
    showcase youth social action etc

Who’s doing this well?

Points of Light is where the Prime Minister recognises outstanding volunteers daily

Swavesey Village College use a system called PLEDGES to help pupils track and celebrate their social action achievements.

The Diana Award is an accolade for 9-18 year old’s to receive for taking part in social action

First Give hold award celebrations for young people completing their programmes at their schools.

For more case studies on how #iwill campaign partners are recognising and celebrating young people, click here.

You can find and download all of this information and more, including what we’re learning about youth social action in our document POWER: The Five Ways to Embed Youth Social Action.