This has been another fantastic year for the #iwill campaign. Across the country, organisations and young people have been working together to grow the power of youth. Here are just a few examples of the collective progress we have made!

This year we launched #iwill4nature – a year-long initiative to boost participation in green youth social action as part of the 2019 Year of Green Action.

Young people have the potential to make a huge difference to improving the environment through social action – or green action – whilst also developing valuable skills, experience and increased wellbeing. Examples of green action include taking part in environmental volunteering such as litter picking or planting pollinator-friendly flowers, fundraising to maintain or enhance green spaces or campaigning for the zero plastic waste agenda.

The launch event was held at ZSL London Zoo, where #iwill campaign partners and #iwill Ambassadors were joined by The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. HRH The Prince of Wales also shared an inspiring message of support for #iwill4nature.

In January, the NHS launched its Long Term Plan, outlining its commitment to the #iwill campaign and its intention to grow the number of young volunteers over the next decade.  This commitment followed on from close collaboration between Step Up To Serve, NHS England and Improvement and the Pears Foundation in 2018.

Three months later, the first ever NHS Youth Voice Summit was held. The event was co-designed and co-produced with young people. Gabby Mathews, one of our #iwill Ambassadors and a member of the newly created NHS Assembly, co-chaired the event. The Summit enabled young people and NHS staff to explore how the ambitions within the Long Term Plan can be achieved in collaboration with young people. Here you can read reflections on the event from Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England.

In 2019, the Pears #iwill NHS Trust Network has also grown from strength to strength, with 30 Trusts across the UK now offering young volunteer opportunities due to support from the Pears #iwill Fund.

In May we launched our 2019 Impact Report: The Power of Youth Social Action.

The report explored the progress that has been made by campaign partners across a variety of sectors, as well sharing headlines from the 2018 National Youth Social Action Survey. Highlights from the report include:

  • Over 1000 partners from across the education, health and social care, business and voluntary sectors
  • 73% of teachers now say that social action is now part of their school’s culture and practice – up from 48% in 2015
  • 87% of #iwill campaign partners now say that that youth social action is part of their organisation’s culture and practice as a result of being part of the campaign

On Wednesday 15th May, the #iwill Campaign’s Advisory Council met at St James’s Palace, generously hosted by our Patron HRH The Prince of Wales. The Council discussed the progress of the campaign so far, what needs to be achieved before the end of 2020, and the legacy of the campaign beyond the closure of Step Up To Serve, its coordinating body.

The event was chaired by two of our young trustees, Ceylon Andi Hickman and Saeed Atcha MBE DL. Young people made up more than a quarter of attendees, with other attendees including leaders from the business, voluntary, public, education and faith sectors.

As part of Volunteers’ Week, on June 5th we celebrated Youth Social Action Day – an opportunity for organisations and young people from across the UK to celebrate the #PowerofYouth. The day saw campaign partners share case studies, handover their social media channels to young people and hold a range of community and national events. On the day, social media activity reached over 8 million Twitter feeds.

In October, we welcomed 50 new  #iwill Ambassadors, growing our cohort to 300 young people representing the #iwill campaign across the UK. The were welcomed at an inspiring event incorporating over a hundred partners and four schools at the University of Birmingham.

It was the first time we held such an event outside of London, where partners and young people had the opportunity to explore the future of #iwill after 2020. 

In November, the Department for Education launched guidance for schools on Character Education, which includes six Character Benchmarks. These highlight the critical role that volunteering and service plays in a young person’s character education.

The guidance builds on evidence shared by #iwill campaign partners and #iwill Ambassadors with the DfE earlier this year highlighting the powerful impact social action can have on young people, empowering them to be compassionate, active citizens.

In partnership with the Eden Project, Pears Foundation, Schools Linking Network, teachers and #iwill campaign Ambassadors, new resources were launched to support schools and organisations to take part in environmental social action, with links to the curriculum and the 2019 Ofsted Framework.

Each activity explores different ways we connect with our natural environment, what nature is and includes starter steps for young people to engage in environmental social action. Find out more about them and download these free resources.

You can see how the resources being used in this lovely film from Beckfoot Allerton Primary in Bradford.

The Back Youth Alliance, a partnership of #iwill campaign partners within the youth sector, successfully lobbied government to invest in opportunities and services for young people. In November, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), announced an additional £500m funding for new youth centres, enhanced facilities and more youth services.

In addition to this, DCMS also announced an additional £5m for the #iwill Fund, which has the potential to lever in an additional £20m in total to the Fund to support youth social action opportunities across England.

The Careers & Enterprise Company launched a new Youth Social Action Toolkit to equip careers leaders in schools and colleges to use the youth social action opportunities to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks for career education and support their students take part in social action activities that can build essential skills for the future.

To coincide with a launch, Step Up To Serve Trustee Steve Holliday also wrote a blog reflecting on how young people’s involvement in social action helps develop life skills, job prospects and wellbeing. It can also help to improve social mobility and social inclusion for young people from disadvantaged communities and those with more challenging backgrounds.

10,000 trees were planted at The Young People’s Forest for the Big Climate Fightback on 30 November.

Built on a former coal mine, the forest is a Woodland Trust project supported by the Pears #iwill Fund. It provides a fantastic opportunity to inspire young people on a massive scale about the role they can play in improving our environment.

Young people have been involved from the outset, planting trees, learning about nature and designing, delivering and taking part in activities.