Over the past three months Third Form students at Wellington College have been involved in Junior Social Apprentice, supported by Future Foundations coaches and Wellington College’s Sixth Form student leaders. This unique programme designed by Future Foundations in partnership with Wellington College develops participants’ understanding of voluntary and community organisations, the wide range of development issues affecting people in the UK and actively engages them through a 3 day residential in either Birmingham or Manchester to make contribution to society.

A multi day training programme at Wellington College launched in April 2016, young people took part in a series of inspiring training afternoons, delivered by Year 12 student leaders, to prepare them, develop teamwork skills and increase the impact of the Junior Social Apprentice residential. These sessions were led by Future Foundations Course Directors Ella and Owen , who were continually impressed by the initiative and commitment of the student leaders to make the training as engaging as possible for younger students.

The learning objectives of the Junior Social Leaders training were:

  • Enable bonding between participants on the Junior Social Apprentice (JSA) programme creating a supportive and collaborative culture where young people work together.
  • Increase the students’ confidence, initiative, teamwork, pro-activity and commitment towards their vision through working together on team building tasks and challenges.
  • Engage students with the development themes of the JSA partner organisations and  introduce them to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Help students identify goals for Junior Social Apprentice and work back through stages that will take them there; challenging them to identify the attitude and achievement needed for success and their part in it.
  • Build the students’ confidence and ability to communicate their vision clearly and persuasively through presentation skills training and challenges.
  • Provide a fun and interactive experience for students which will build excitement ahead of JSA and ensure the programme leaves a lasting impact.

On Monday 20th June, 190 Third Formers set off from Wellington College, travelling with their teachers to Birmingham and Manchester. Over the following three days they undertook a variety of social action challenges, experienced life in a different part of the UK and worked alongside charities and social enterprises which tackle issues affecting local people.

3 days, 14 projects and many stretched comfort zones later, the Junior Social Apprentices returned to Berkshire, most having had their first ever taste of voluntary service and left feeling fundamentally changed by the experience.

Thanks to FF’s incredible network of community partners we were able to give the Junior Social Apprentices an introduction to a huge variety of social issues and opportunities to make a tangible difference to local lives. Project ranged from developing peace gardens and vegetable allotments for  mental health and LGBT charities in Manchester to experiencing visual impairment first hand and developing campaigns to increase awareness of the condition in schools.

Teams helped out behind the scenes at food and clothing banks, learning how and why these vital services are in place.

Students worked with charities that support the homeless hearing from inspirational speakers that have themselves experienced sleeping rough, learning to make a shelter from cardboard boxes. Hard hitting and thought provoking in equal measure the apprentices left with a better understanding of the often complex issues that lead to and perpetuate homelessness and all had an increased empathy for their situation.

One team worked alongside a theatre company which offers workshops for disadvantaged members of the community, renovating the studio space and reviewing the marketing for upcoming shows to attract more young people to their events.

It wasn’t all work and no play, the Junior Social Apprentice’s spent a day of the programme competing in the ‘City Challenge’, a unique team event which saw Wellingtonians racing through city centres, accosting the public, devising spoken work performances based on their experiences and sweet talking unsuspecting bakery workers (!) to complete social action themed challenges.

Students in Birmingham enjoyed a tour of the Impact Hub, an amazing warehouse space home to a network of incredible citizens, makers, doers, entrepreneurs, activists and dreamers committed to building a better Birmingham and a better world. Beetfreaks, who are based in the building were kind enough to give a talk on their organisation to the whole group on day  one of the residential and host several teams projects.

Moodswings

Manchester

We just wanted to say a big thank you from all the team for your hard work today!
The garden looks brilliant everyone did a fantastic job.
The children and the teacher who accompanied them are an absolute credit to the school and represented you very well.
We do hope they enjoyed themselves. They are of course welcome back anytime!

We would like to say a huge thank you to Wellington College your continued commitment to service learning and belief in the value a connected society, driven by the young. We’d also like to thank our community partners for their support and unwavering generosity. A huge shout out to Beatfreaks, Coffee 4 Craig, Lifeshare, Uprising, St Basils, Children’s University, Moodswings, The Proud Trust, Xplode! Magazine, Brighter Sound, Blue Orange Theatre Company, Queen Alexandra College, Action for Blind People, Groundwork and the Birmingham Impact Hub. Most of all, we’d like to applaud the 190 students without whose hard work, dedication and enthusiasm for social action this would not have been possible.

On their return to Wellington College selected students presented at the Education Festival, speaking about their experience of the Junior Social Apprentice and sharing the lessons they had learnt during the course of their training and residentials in Birmingham and Manchester. Every young person who took part in this years’ programme should be very proud of their achievement and the incredible resourcefulness, energy and impact they are capable of when they put their minds to social action.

Future Foundations’ vision of a society where all organisations are led by socially conscious people, with every young person making the transition into adulthood with the foundations they need for their future has been brought to life by the Junior Social Apprentice programme.