What a year! We returned to City and Islington College in October 2017 to deliver City Leaders, a weekly youth leadership and social action programme in partnership with London Youth. Our second cohort of City Leaders supported three organisations, raised over £1,500 for various causes, and interacted with over 150 members of the local community!
“I was comfortable and felt free to express opinions with no judgement.”
The programme began with a series of workshops at which the newly-recruited group of City Leaders discussed community, identity and local issues. We talked through some skills and strategies the City Leaders could use for creative campaigning and planning a community project of their own.
“This project has opened my mind to other groups”
In the first stage of City Leaders, the Team Stage, – the group was given a budget of £150 and chose an activity through which to get to know each other better. Taking responsibility for the budget and co-ordinating the activity, the City Leaders organised a film night at which they ordered pizza and watched the film #RealityHigh. They subsequently discussed the issues raised in the film, such as the role of social media in their lives.
The group then began preparations for the Club Stage, at which they successfully pitched for £400 from London Youth to improve their youth club (Creative Opportunities) and demonstrate their planning, teamwork and public speaking skills. As we had recently moved to a new office at the Mildmay Community Partnership, the group decided to use the budget to plan an event that would raise the profile of Creative Opportunities within the centre.
The City Leaders explored various social issues in workshops facilitated by us, and subsequently decided to run a social action campaign on the topic of mental health to bring the club and the local community together. After researching relevant organisations the group decided to support Luna Children’s Charity, an organisation which supports children affected by psychological trauma caused by conflict, violence or disaster.
After discussing different options for activities or events, the team decided to host a charity dinner in aid of Luna at the Mildmay Community Centre. They reached out to local businesses to source raffle prizes, organised catering, purchased and put up decorations and prepared speeches, and performed a song together at the event. The evening brought together people from across the local area and was a huge success-raising over £740! This money was used by Luna to send a team of 3 trainers to refugee camps in Jordan, where they taught 21 practitioners CATT – Children’s Accelerated Trauma Technique. You can find out more about Luna Children’s Charity here: www.lunachildren.org.uk
Stella Charman, the Chair of Trustees for Luna Children’s Charity, said: “We have rarely met such a committed, energetic and thoughtful group of young people who know what they want to achieve in life and how to make a difference. In particular, they understand the importance of good mental health and the misery of living in constant fear. The ‘Food for Thought’ fundraiser was very well organised and such a fun evening for everyone who came along. It made a fantastic financial contribution to Luna’s trauma training in Amman in April. As a result, there are now 21 therapists with much improved skills to treat children with post traumatic stress disorder, many of whom are refugees from Syria. In addition we have two excellent trainers who can train others in the future.”
“I really enjoyed the day as I got to talk to people. It was nice raising money too as it felt fulfilling.”
Motivated by the success of this event the group began preparing for their pitch at the Community Stage, at which the the City Leaders had an opportunity to meet other youth clubs taking part in the programme. Inspired by what they had learned at the Club Stage, the group continued to work on the topic of mental health and successfully pitched to the panel for £600 to contribute to the Manor Gardens Summer Wellbeing Festival.
Manor Gardens is a local organisation which promotes mental and physical health and wellbeing and increases social inclusion in Islington. After meeting with Felicity Ford, the Director of Fundraising and Development and Wellbeing Events and Outreach Officer Shannon Butler, the City Leaders decided that the festival was a good opportunity to promote mental wellbeing locally.
With the money they received from London Youth, the City Leaders purchased items and prizes for games, and materials with which members of the public could create a large mural. On the day of the festival the group interacted with almost 100 children and parents at the event, encouraging people to come and “paint what makes you happy”. They also hosted a ‘guess how many sweets are in the jar’ activity in order to fundraise for Manor Gardens. The festival was very well attended by the local community and you can find out more about Manor Gardens here: www.manorgardenscentre.org
The City Leaders have worked tirelessly this year, attending workshops at our offices even when their college was shut due to snow and planned their Community Stage event during their exam period. Two members have gone on to join the Futures City Leaders programme and will attend a series of masterclasses over the summer on topics such as power, campaigning and employability and will gain an accreditation in Youth Leadership.
City Leaders Year Two was funded by The London Community Foundation.
You can find out more about The London Community Foundation on their website by clicking here.
Manor Gardens is a multicultural, multi-ethnic health and wellbeing charity based in Upper Holloway in Islington, London. You can find out more about Manor Gardens on their website by clicking here.
Luna Children’s Charity (also known as ACT International) helps communities treat children with trauma and PTSD. You can find out more about their work on their website by clicking here.