On Thursday 18th February, I had the pleasure of attending the Future Foundations Annual Celebrations and Awards event, where I was able to meet several Future Foundation staff members and get an insight into some of the other leadership projects that they run to help young people besides the McKinsey Leadership Academy that I attended. This event triggered a phase of reflection in me, to look back at all the work that I had done for The Youth Project so far, especially as our 2 year anniversary was coming up the following week.
I thought back to the first external meeting that I had attended, where I was pitching the idea of our mentoring scheme (which had not yet begun) to various directors of other organisations, with the intention to form a collaboration for the project. I remembered how nervous I was and how inarticulate my presentation came across to those around me. Luckily, this was the first of many occasions where I was able to work at conveying my ideas formally to others and of course, over time, my skills improved. Shortly after, I attended the McKinsey Leadership Academy, where I came across a whole range of people and got the chance to work in smaller groups with them. Not only did I make friends but through exercises such as the trust fall (relying on your teammates to catch you whilst falling off the side of a wall!) and the Olympic Bid, I learnt to trust my TYP colleagues more, which then made planning events and projects much easier and with less arguments!
Last Saturday, The Youth Project carried out its fourth Homeless Drive in the UK, where over 250 volunteers attended over the course of the day and managed to distribute over 200 resource packs to the homeless around London. This was a rather important event for us as an organisation to spread the world of the global social movement that is The Youth Project to the 80% of Homeless Drive volunteers that had not yet heard of TYP. Not only did the volunteers really enjoy the experience but it also made them think more about their day to day treatment of homeless people and made them consider how they might want to be treated if they unfortunately found themselves in a similar situation, which could easily happen. The event itself was supported by our conference, where a couple of TYP directors talked about some of the projects that we are currently running, whilst our guest speaker Ed Jordan, former Director of Shelter (an organisation that combats homelessness) spoke about compassion, sleeping rough and his own experiences.
The Homeless Drive initiative is something that TYP have been running since the beginning of 2015, but we hope to start running new events with a similar intention; to bring together young people who will then empower each other to make social change in the world for the better. After attending the TEDx Teen event, (courtesy of Future Foundations), both myself and my colleague Sahil heard various young speakers with their own inspiring stories, some of whom had embarked upon a journey to make social change for themselves. These journeys included “Dumpster Diving”, “working towards getting rid of famine in certain countries” amongst many more. These are the sorts of journeys that we hope to bring out of every single young person that we work with and we believe that all young people have the power to think up innovative and powerful ideas. Currently, The Youth Project is working on raising funds to build an education facility in Africa, a campaign to engage the general public in treating homeless people on the streets in a more humane way (The Hello Homeless Campaign) and a fashion label (Label) with the one for one business model, meaning for every item of clothing sold, the same item of clothing is given to a child in need. We of course make sure that the clothing is produced ethically and that it looks stylish! We are also sponsoring another TEDx event (TEDx City University London), where our CEO will also be giving a talk about empowering young people.
Alongside all these ventures, we are working to implement TYP societies into schools and universities, so that we may be able to keep the organisation sustainable as the current directors and volunteers grow older and can no longer be considered youth. In doing this we also hope to get more people around the world involved in the work of TYP, so that we can work towards our aim of getting young people to eventually empower each other to make a change. If these habits can be developed at such a young age, think of how effective this generation of young people will be as the future leaders of their respective fields. Social crises will be much more easily solved if the entire population intends to help those less privileged than themselves.