#iwill Week | Getting to grips with youth social action

Dame Julia Cleverdon

We spoke to Dame Julia Cleverdon, the co-founder of Step Up To Serve and #iwill campaigns, about volunteering, social action and making a real impact in our communities.

The campaign #iwillWeek aims to raise awareness for social action projects led by young people.Across the country, young people from all backgrounds and communities are stepping up to make a positive impact in the places they live. This year’s campaign will be celebrating all the incredible work young people are doing on the 21-25 November.

Social action not only helps the wider community, but also the young people who do it. Dame Julia Cleverdon explains what social action is and how leaders can inspire their young people to get involved.

Why start something like Step Up To Serve?

I had worked as Chief Executive of Business in the Community where the Prince of Wales was a very active president. He had always been keen to encourage young people to be of service to their communities. When the Prime Minister asked Amanda Jordan and I to do a review in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics, I jumped at the chance. The Olympics, through its gamesmakers, had shown a practical vision of engaging thousands of volunteers. From there, it was asking ourselves how we could help build a society where many more young people from the age of 10 to 20 could contribute to communities though their energy, skills, passions and campaigns.

From where did your passion and drive originate?

My Welsh grandfather was a vicar in the Welsh valleys during the Depression in the Thirties and as a result my mum believed fervently in supporting neighbours and being involved in the community. My father was immensely energetic and passionate about his work as a BBC Radio Producer – so they were both role models of energy and drive! I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a campaign that I believed was worth fighting for.

What is social action?

Social action comes in all shapes and forms and Scouting has been at the heart of supporting young people’s contribution to communities. I shall never forget a young Scout at the launch at Buckingham Palace who told us all of how he had worked tirelessly to raise funds to support the cause he cared about most – the appalling impact of a massive flood in the Philippines. Community impact is about practical action in the service of others.

What can Scout leaders and parents do to encourage social action in young people?

Work with your young people to support, encourage and get involved together in the causes and people who most need help in their local community.

Taking part in A Million Hands is one way to commit to doing social action in your community. Celebrate #iwillWeek by taking action and hosting an event to raise awareness of your chosen issue.

To get involved in #iwillWeek take a look at these resources.  

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