Celebrating Youth Social Action: First Give at Ark Acton Academy 

First Give, an organisation supporting secondary schools and their students to engage in social action, reflect on their celebrations at the First Give Final at Ark Acton Academy on Wednesday 20 November 2019. Find out more about First Give here.

On a Wednesday night in November parents, teachers, students and other community members came together at Ark Acton Academy to hear about and celebrate the incredible achievements of the Year 9 cohort on this year’s First Give programme.

The First Give Final at Ark Acton Academy has always been an exciting event in the school calendar. It is an opportunity for students to speak out about the causes that matter to them, and a celebration of what these students have done to make the lives of others in their community better.

The entire year group has completed the First Give programme over the last term. Each form group identified social issues affecting their community. They connected with charities that are tackling these issues and together took action to support their chosen charity. At the Final one team of students from each form group stood up to report on their social action, and to advocate for their charity to win a First Give grant of £1,000. 

On Friday 1st November, the sports hall was turned into a marketplace for each form group to promote and raise money for their charity in a social action fair. The rest of the school were invited in to hear about the causes Year 9 were focusing on and help raise funds for the charities being represented. 

On top of this social action fair, students across the year group planned and completed individual social action projects. For example, a Sponsored Silence to raise funds for Victim Support. The student who did this chose to do this to raise awareness of the fact that victims of crime often feel unable to talk about their experience. 

The winning class, who were representing local charity Acton Homeless Concern also organised a collection of warm clothes and other donations for the charity’s homeless shelter. One student from this class reflected that 

“My favourite part of doing First Give was the Final. This was where it all came together and we got to share how we as a form class helped our charity 

First Give Finals are a powerful opportunity for the school and First Give to amplify the voices of students on issues that matter to them; to support them to shout about their achievements and to celebrate their hard workThe event at Ark Acton Academy was incredibly well attended, with teachers, students and of course very proud parents making up the excitable audience. We were also delighted to be joined by a distinguished judging panel. Mr Knight (Headteacher) was joined by student representatives; the local Metropolitan Safer Schools Officerand a very special guest – Councillor Munir Ahmed, Deputy Mayor of Ealing. 

Nickael Briggs, the Lead teacher at Ark Acton Academy reflected on the importance of the Final event celebrating what students had done on the programme: 

Social action is really important and often young people don’t feel that there’s any point to them doing anything, and there isn’t any recognition. So I think where this project allowed them to get in contact with their charities and to campaign on behalf of them, I think that should be recognised, and we should celebrate young people when they are turning their energy into something positive like this.” 

At First Give we have intentionally built the Final into our programme model so that young people are given a platform to speak to their school and wider community about what matters to them. On top of this it is an opportunity for the action young people have taken to be celebrated. We believe this recognition will help to whet their appetite to do more social action in the futureThere is also a huge benefit in sharing good news stories like this to help raise the profile of young people as positive actors in communities across the UK. 

As our Director Louisa Searle says, 

If you give young people the opportunity to do good, they will absolutely run with it.” 

Let’s do more to celebrate when we see this happening, both in #iwillWeek and beyond!

The First Give programme at Ark Acton Academy was funded by the Jack Petchey Foundation.