Bring About Change: piloting social action in the community

Social Action Programme Manager, Stella Baynes, reports back on the planning stages of her new youth-led project framework for those aged 11+.

If Covid-19 taught us anything, it’s that community is crucial. As humans we rely on social contact with others for support, advice, entertainment and mental wellbeing.

Our community spaces play a vital part in this. Being able to escape to a playground, sit in the library, exchange views on the high street or walk by a river are all important contributors to how we feel about ourselves and others.

Thanks to funding from the Co-op Foundation #iwillFund, Young Citizens has been exploring this theme over the last three years. Through the development of educator training and resources, we have supported young people to identify and improve the places in which they live.

These include our free online course Social Action in Community Spaces, KS2 drop down day Make a Difference in a Day and the pilot of our brand new programme Bring About Change.


Pilot projects

We’ve been following the progress of the twelve pilot groups comprising secondary schools, youth organisations and a university as they test the educator training and resources with young people ranging from 11 to 21.

It’s not been an easy ride for some, with the effects of Covid still very much felt across organisations in terms of staff sickness, additional pressures on the curriculum to catch-up, and a residual fear about taking young people out of school and into vulnerable communities.

However, thanks to the grit and determination of the educators, we’ve passed the halfway mark of the pilot and a bevy of interesting projects are underway.

  • In Andover, Hants a group of students attending Harrow Way Community School’s after school club have adopted a piece of wasteland in the town, petitioning the council for bins, benches and an information board about local wildlife. They carried out a high profile litter pick on the site and interviewed passers-by about the area for an awareness-raising video.
  • At CU Coventry a group of first year university international students have been creating a ‘Safe Coventry’ guide for new arrivals to the city. They have surveyed safe routes to walk at night, researched community spaces, and recommended ‘safe’ venues for socialising.
  • In Mablethorpe on the Lincolnshire coast, young people at the YMCA are raising awareness of pollution on their beaches. They have written and produced a music video aimed at primary aged children, featuring a cartoon fish character who gets tangled in plastic, and created graffiti boards with the slogan ‘Don’t Be Mean, Keep It Clean’ to be mounted on derelict sea walls across the beach.

Other pilot projects include creating community gardens; a campaign to reverse the decision to turn off street lights overnight; working with a library to make it more welcoming to young people; and a road safety campaign to make walking to school more accessible.

“My young people are more aware and positive that they can have an impact on things locally…they feel connected with their community and proud of what they have achieved.” – Georgina, Youth Worker


Get involved

The projects are varied, but their main outcome is the same: young people taking positive action to bring about change in their communities. And the benefit doesn’t end with the local community: the young people themselves have grown in confidence and gained new skills such as teamwork and persuasive communication.

If you want to know more about the Bring About Change programme we’ll be running information sessions in July to share good practice from the pilot and explore other issues young people could choose to tackle.

Register your interest now to get those dates delivered to your inbox as soon as they are finalised.