Involving young people in the design and delivery of UK Youth’s activities and empowering them to become active citizens and create positive change is embedded throughout our work. At the heart of our organisation is UK Youth Voice, an inspiring and energetic group of young people aged 16-25 who represent every region and nation of the UK. Together they form our National Steering Board who influence change at a local and national level.

These young people are fundamental to everything we do at UK Youth, feeding into our strategy and overall direction. Three sit on our Board of Trustees, while all take part in a personal development programme.

After the EU Referendum, UK Youth Voice members did extensive research with young people from across the UK to identify the issues affecting them. From these insights, they created a Youth Voice Manifesto and outlined five policy needs.

The UK Youth Voice Manifesto was presented to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street and has gained widespread, cross-party support. In July 2018, we brought 90 young people to the Houses of Parliament for the day to celebrate the Manifesto’s success and discuss policy.

“UK Youth has made me feel relevant, listened to, and an important part of this country’s future.” Maya Hattenstone, UK Youth Voice

We support our network of 3,536 youth organisations to involve young people in decision making – in their organisations and the wider community – and also to co-create programmes with young people based on their needs. We do this through our youth participation consultancy and training service.

We also support and train organisations to embed our UK Youth Achievement Awards into their delivery. This award framework helps young people leading community projects to develop critical thinking and reflection skills – by setting goals, by evaluating what they’ve learned, and by celebrating their achievement.

We deliver high-quality, large-scale skills development programmes for young people, from outdoor learning to money management, in partnership with the UK Youth members. We also engage young people who don’t traditionally have access to personal development opportunities: 86% of the young people on our programmes report at least one personal barrier, while 24% live in the 10% most deprived communities in the UK.

We work with our members and young people in our network to make sure all our programmes meet their changing needs. We use this insight to build high-profile partnerships to co-create and deliver innovative, accessible, funded opportunities for young people. The aim of this is to empower them to develop their life skills and engage with employment, volunteering or training.

To mark the centenary of women’s suffrage, we launched EmpowHER. This programme empowers young women and girls in deprived and disadvantaged communities to use their voices for positive change – just as their predecessors did 100 years ago.

EmpowHER was co-created with young people at every stage through a series of local design focus groups and a national survey. The name and brand was chosen by young people and they are represented on the Steering Group to ensure that they are involved in shaping the project throughout delivery.

Young people have led a range of local social action projects, from a women’s refuge, to an intergenerational dance to combat loneliness, to a Christmas present drive delivering presents to isolated people.