Last week, 190 bright eyed Year Nine students from Wellington College, in Berkshire, embarked on a social action challenge to experience life in Britain’s inner cities and work alongside the charities and social enterprises which tackle issues affecting local people. 3 days, 12 projects and many stretched comfort zones later, the Junior Social Apprentices returned to school, most having had their first ever taste of voluntary service and left feeling fundamentally changed by the experience.
Designed by Future Foundations in partnership with Wellington College, the Junior Social Apprentice scheme aims were to develop young people’s understanding of voluntary and community organisations and demonstrate how they can make a contribution to society. Split between Manchester and Birmingham the students travelled with their teachers and worked in small project teams, with every young person challenged to get involved and contribute their talents.
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; from tackling political apathy in young people through to zoning in on the food waste crisis in our supermarkets and homes.
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 student led the charge, making a public commitment though the #iwill campaign ‘not to ignore homeless people on the street and to try to help them’.
A number of teams worked alongside organisations that offer advice and services to help motivate and mobilise young people from deprived or under represented backgrounds.
They met with students that have chosen to spend their gap year volunteering in inner city schools and put together a marketing strategy for a Street Festival run by a social enterprise to promote the creativity and talents of young people. One team carried out a research and innovation project to enable young homeless people in Birmingham to access a free cycle scheme.
Our amazing students also designed and carried out research projects for our partners at Uprising, hitting the streets to collect data that will allow the charity to better understand the views and needs of young people in there are.
I’d like to say how impressed I was at the young people’s achievements yesterday…the young people created fantastically produced presentations, that all displayed the data they collected differently. Each group come up with varying and thoughtful conclusions about their findings too, which was great to see and showed a fantastic level of understanding.Victoria Turnbull, Uprising
Junior Social Apprentice has been a genuine perception shifting experience for our studentsBen Attenborough, Teacher, Wellington College
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 and sweet talking unsuspecting bakery workers (!) to complete social action themed challenges.
Those in Birmingham enjoyed guided tours of the newly launched 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.
The feedback from everyone involved in this inaugural programme has been fantastic, proving yet again the incredible resourcefulness, energy and impact young people 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.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Wellington College for blazing a trail and prioritising service learning. It’s great for Future Foundations to work with a school that so readily recognises the valuable contribution young people can make to society and the benefits to they reap by doing so.
We’d also like to thank our generous community partners Coffee 4 Craig, Beatfreeks, Fareshare, Foodcycle, Lifeshare, Uprising, City Year, St Basils, Birmingham City University, Manchester Metropolitan University and the 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.