Who’s been talking about the #iwill Ambassadors?

Our #iwill Ambassadors are young people from across the UK who are passionate about tackling issues in their communities and in wider society. They often feature in the media talking about the issues they care about or telling their personal stories. You can find out more about our Ambassadors, including individual case studies, here.

If you are looking to feature an Ambassador in the media, please contact comms@stepuptoserve.org.uk.

April 2020

Sophia Badhan: Mental Health on BBC Asian Network

Sophia Badhan, 19, from Birmingham, spoke to BBC Asian Network about her experiences receiving mental health care, her work as a mental health advocate, and discusses how people with mental health issues and experiences of hospitalisation feeling the effects of the coronavirus crisis. Listen here – catch the full segment from 01:52:00 and hear Sophia speak from 01:56:00.

April 2020

Dara McAnulty: 1800 Seconds on Autism on BBC Sounds

Dara McAnulty, 16, from Northern Ireland, joined the BBC Sounds Podcast “18000 Seconds on Autism” during Autism Awareness Month. Dara shared with hosts Robyn Steward and Jamie Knight. Dara speaks about his experience of autism, as well as black holes, nature, the environment, writing – and shares a poem.

Dara said:

“ I am the eldest sibling, so I’ve got a younger brother and a younger sister. All of us are autistic.  I knew I was kind of different because I kind of got really, really excited about black holes and nobody really wanted to listen. I must have been five; I guess that’s quite early. Then I went to secondary school and people seemed to hate me because you couldn’t shut me up about birds or black holes, or I went to secondary school and people seemed to hate me… What really helped me was going out into nature and just sitting down in the middle of a forest. And it was: I care about nature and I don’t care about the bullies, and I think nature’s amazing but they don’t.”

April 2020

Naomi Lea: Coronavirus & Mental Health on the BBC

#iwill young trustee and #iwill Ambassador, Naomi Lea, spoke to the BBC about how she is using a self-help journal to manage the impact of the coronavirus crisis on her existing mental health issues. Naomi has also launched Project Hope, an online space for young people to come together to tackle isolation.

Naomi said:

“What’s making me feel this way? What am I grateful for today? “Those questions point me to think about what I have done during the day and what’s been positive, and also write about the things that I’m worrying about.”

April 2020

Connor Burleigh: NCS “I have autism but I don’t let it stop me”

Connor Burleigh, 17, from Doncaster, shared with NCS how he started secondary school struggling to fit in as well as with his studies. From taking part in NCS, as well as social action and youth politics, Connor gained the confidence to make big steps forward in his education and career.

Connor said:

“ Over time I started speaking up, and even though getting involved was out of my comfort zone, it really helped build my confidence. Being involved in social action projects allows me to be part of something bigger than myself and make a difference in my community. I think those things also give me the motivation to continue to speak to new people and find more public speaking opportunities.”

February 2020

The Prime Minister’s Point of Light Awards

#iwill Ambassadors Waleed, Sophia, Ethan, Katrina and Charlotte have all been awarded the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award. Read their individual profiles below to find out more about they have been leading change in their communities.

Charlotte Donaldson:

Charlotte Donaldson, aged 18, from Aberdeenshire, is an #iwill ambassador who was a founding member of the Scottish Gypsy Traveller Assembly in 2018 to lead efforts to further recognise the rights and cultural heritage of the approximately 4,000 strong Gypsy/Traveller community in the country.

Charlotte has been active in speaking for the Gypsy/Traveller community from a small age and advocating for greater equality and representation of the community, particularly among young people, and is working to expand the Gypsy Traveller Youth Forum for Scotland to ensure the voices of young Gypsy Travellers from each of the 32 districts in Scotland can be fully heard.

Charlotte says:

“I’m delighted to be receiving this award from the Prime Minister for my work in defending the rights of Gypsies/Travellers. There is still a long way to go before Gypsies/Travellers have equal rights in this country and I am determined to play a role in tackling stigma and getting more support and protections for my community. I hope that my story will inspire politicians to reflect on the challenges we still face as a community and have a positive dialogue with us.”

Charlotte’s achievement was featured in the Traveller’s Times. 

Waleed Khan: Terror survivor and anti-radicalisation speaker

Waleed Khan, from Birmingham, was recognised as a Point of Light by the Prime Minister for his work against radicalisation. Waleed is a survivor of the Peshawar school terrorist attack in 2014, where a number of his friends and classmates were killed. Waleed spent two years in hospital in Birmingham after being shot six times in the face.

Waleed is now an advocate on the importance of education and the dangers of radicalisation, speaking to over 1,500 young people in schools and universities across England. He is also a representative for the UK Youth Parliament and is a member of the Birmingham Aspiring Youth Foundation.

Waleed says:

“I am truly humbled and honoured to receive the Points of Light Award and thank the #iwill campaign for nominating me. I will continue to work for the empowerment of youth and the struggle against radicalisation. Today, youth in UK and around the world, are making strides to change the world around them.

From powerful social media movements, to political organising and protesting on the ground, the voice and passion of young people have convinced society to take us seriously. I am really grateful and glad that the Prime Minister is recognising the contribution of young people to society. Recognitions like these not only encourage thousands of young people like me to continue our effort, but also increases their self-esteem and self-efficacy.”

Waleed speaks about his experiences and being given the Point of Light Award on BBC West Midlands – listen in from 02:19:00 to 02:30:00.

“I survived that day so I can survive anything.” Read Waleed’s interview with The Birmingham Mail.

Sophia Badhan: Eating disorder and mental health campaigner

Sophia Badhan, from Birmingham, is an #iwill Ambassador who draws on her own experiences of anorexia and depression to tackle the stigma of mental health and eating disorders across the West Midlands. Sophia received the Point of Light Award in recognition of the work she has achieved at her own school, as well as through Think4Brum, a project run by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Sophia says:

“I feel very honoured to receive the Points of Light Award today. When you’re facing mental-health challenges, it is easy to feel that you are powerless. My journey in advocacy and volunteering has allowed me to understand that we all have the potential to make a difference, no matter the challenges we face, and no matter our age. As young people, our voice is the most powerful weapon we have and our mental health should be a priority. Mental health transcends politics and we must work together to provide young people with the help and support they deserve.”

Sophia spoke on the BBC West Midlands breakfast show. Listen in from 01:24:00 and again from 02:24:00:

Ethan Mcinally: Youth coach and peer educator on drugs and alcohol

Ethan Mcinally has been recognised as a Point of Light. Ethan has developed an innovative project in Glasgow, ‘Getting the Message Across’, to educate young people on the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse, as well as the importance of positive mental health.

Ethan has created a series of interactive workshops alongside a short film which have received engagements from over 6,000 secondary school and primary school pupils in the city. As a voluntary football coach, he has also raised awareness by holding a football tournament with over 200 young participants, using the event to engage local youth groups and sports clubs on the consequences of substance abuse.

Ethan says:

“I am extremely honoured to be receiving the Points of Light award from the Prime Minister. I am proud that by getting the message across regarding the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse I can contribute to helping my peers have a safer future by empowering them to make better informed decisions about using these substances.

As a peer mentor I am convinced that fellow young people can make a difference in our futures and I hope I can inspire some of them to begin making their voices be heard. As an #iwill Ambassador I am privileged to now have a strong circle of peers who are trying to make a difference in our communities, as this campaign gives us the platform to do so.”

Ethan’s story was featured in the Glasgow Times:

Katrina Lambert: Children’s and women’s rights campaigner

Katrina Lambert has received a Point of Light Award.  Katrina is the youngest and only Scottish member of Youth for Change, a network of international young activists working to end gender-based violence, where she campaigned to ensure FGM is a mandatory part of the UK’s relationships and sex education curriculum. Katrina is also an alumna of of the Young Women Lead programme, and is a Young Human Rights Defender, activities which have taken her from Scottish Parliament to the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva.

Katrina says:

“I am absolutely honoured to receive the Points of Light Award today. The voices of young people, especially young women, are often the ones that society leaves behind. I will continue to work to ensure that they are always heard loud and clear, and that we are included in decisions that affect our lives.

I am so glad that the PM is recognising the contributions of young people to society – I am just one of thousands of young people across the UK speaking out and changing the world around them and I look forward to more young people like me gaining this recognition in the future”

November 2019 – February 2020

BBC Sounds: “We Can Change The World” Podcast

BBC Sounds’s new podcast features actress and comedian Issy Suttie in conversation with amazing young people whose actions have changed the world around them. The first series, released in two sections from November to February 2020, features four #iwill Ambassadors: Alvin Owusu, Dev Sharma, Abby Lang and Dan Lawes.

Alvin speaks about his work setting up The Advantage Group, supporting young people from less privileged and BAME backgrounds to develop skills they need to lead the careers they want. Alvin also explores his own journey from a pupil disengaged with school to an active student, social entrepreneur and intern at Google.

Alvin says:

“Very often I’m the only one that looks like me, sounds like me, talks like me so then I’m gonna speak for everyone else that isn’t in that room.”

Abby tells her story of how she became passionate about health, becoming a medical student and a campaigner on Young Sudden Cardiac Death. Through her work, Abby has helped to persuade many members of both the Scottish Parliament and House of Commons to sign a pledge supporting the development of a national strategy preventing young sudden cardiac death and has helped to raise thousands of pounds to provide free heart screenings to young people across the UK.

Dev discusses how food insecurity is impacting the lives of young people across the UK, and how he got involved as a Young Food Ambassador, eventually take the issue to the House of Lords. Dev explores some of the solutions to food insecurity that could be introduced in schools, and how other young people can get involved. Dev also chats through his more recent work with #iwill partner Biteback 2030, challenging the food industry to offer healthier options to young people.

Dan speaks about why, as a young person unable to vote, he felt young people were being ignored in the political system. He decided to use his experiences in debate team to set up an organisation called Youth Politics UK. The group is completely youth led and engages young people across the North West of England, giving them direct access to policy makers, running workshops and helping teens to stand up for what they believe in.

You can listen to all seventeen episodes here. Other interviewees include Amika George and Bella Lack.

December 2019

Dazed, The Daily Mirror and Bloomberg

Ahead of the 2019 General Election, Ambassadors, many of whom were voting for the very first time, shared their hopes, concerns and demands of a new government across a number of publications. Check out our coverage round up here.

November 2019

BBC Bitesize

We worked with BBC Bitesize to bring to life some of the incredible stories and experiences of our #iwill Ambassadors, as part of their wider work to highlight the impact that young people are making in communities, society, and the environment.

This included the BBC Bitesize team heading to Northern Ireland to film Dara McAnulty speaking about how his autism has affected his mental health, and how his work to connect other people with nature has supported his recovery and wellbeing. The Bitesize team also spoke to #iwill Ambassadors Billie Jean Harris, Brad Barrett and Sophia Badhan about their work tackling food poverty, homelessness, and mental health.

Read the roundup here.