#iwill Week | Astrud Turner
Astrud is committed to helping young people get involved in social action. Here she talks about the positive impact young people can make in their community and the skills they can learn along the way.
As an #iwill ambassador, what do you do?
As an ambassador I promote youth social action within my community and talk about the objectives of the #iwill campaign. This means I get to take part in social action projects and help other young people to get involved.
I regularly talk about the subject in public. For example, I was invited to speak to students at a training day in Barrow In Furness about how to run a community impact project in their society.
You are also a part of The Scout Association’s Community Impact Group. What does your role involve?
I worked with the team to develop the A Million Hands initiative and helped to create the resources that are being downloaded and used by Scout Groups.
For people who are not in the social action space, understanding the term can be difficult. How do you define social action?
I would define social action as an activity which makes a positive impact in the community.
Here’s a good example of this; I once came across a project that aimed to tackle the cultural differences in the local area. To do this a group of young people organised an event where people from the local community ran stalls that reflected their cultural background. The event created a fun environment that encouraged tolerance, cohesion and cultural understanding within the community.
Can social action really change communities?
I think social action projects are good for increasing understanding and awareness about social issues. Take, for example, mental health; a project that deals with this issue can provide a network of support for people who have mental health difficulties. This support can genuinely change their life.
Have you taken part in projects recently?
Before I left for university I was involved in a mental health project with my Explorer Unit. We decided to increase mental health awareness amongst the children in our local area. At the start of the project we underwent training about the issue. Using all that we had learned, we designed lesson plans, which we taught in our local Primary Schools. The project so far has been a success and the team is hoping to expand on it.
What advice would you share with a young person who wants to set up a project, but are unsure what to do?
A lot of the time projects start off between groups of friends who have similar ideas. Often people start social action clubs in their school where they come together and choose an issue to tackle. From there they host assemblies about their issue, which instantly raises awareness within their school. They can take it further by running smaller workshops at lunchtime.
How can adults help encourage young people to carry out social change in their area?
I think sometimes adults don’t realise that young people care about creating social change and that they also have amazing ideas to make those changes. Putting forward an idea can be scary and adults can help young people combat that fear by providing a space where their ideas can be shared.
What do you think are the big social issues young people should help to change?
The research we undertook for A Million Hands showed that mental health is one of the big issues for young people and is something they want to tackle.
#iwillweek sets out to celebrate the work young people are doing. Where do you see youth social action going?
At the moment one in four young people are involved in some form of social action. I can see this figure rising and an increasing amount of young people getting involved.
As employers begin to value volunteering as much as experience on an applicant’s CV, young people will take up social action projects a lot more. Doing social action projects gives young people transferable skills, but also the opportunity to create real impact in their area.
To find out how you can take action in your community, visit A Million Hands.