16 – 22 November 2020 marks the final #iwill week before the long running campaign, established in 2013, comes to an end in December.
As one of the first organisations to pledge support for the campaign, #iwill week usually sees us celebrating all things youth social action related with various practical projects and activities for individuals and groups across the network.
This year is understandably very different with engagement mainly focused around an online festival, The Power of Youth. We also signed up to #iwill’s Youth Charter, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to engaging and empowering young people to get involved, have their say and help us promote the wellbeing benefits of the waterways to their peers and wider communities.
We've made some plans to bring the charter to life across the Trust in 2021 and beyond.
P - Prioritise supporting young people to take social action
Social action is one of the three pillars of our youth engagement programme. In recent years we have increased the number and range of opportunities for young people. We are committed to supporting young people from all walks of life, particularly those in the most deprived and disadvantaged communities.
We will adopt new models of working including co-creation and co-design and will grow our volunteer-led and community ownership programmes to ensure our offer meets the needs of different communities and encourages participation amongst previously underrepresented groups of young people.
O - Open up our decision-making structures
We are committed to supporting more young people into decision-making roles at all levels at the Trust. We have developed a 12 month Youth Fellowship scheme which will see young people from underrepresented groups joining our; national advisory groups, regional advisory boards and project steering groups.
The scheme will launch in January 2021 recruiting young people to the Youth Advisory Group and London and South East Advisory Board in the first instance.
W – Work collaboratively with other organisations
As a non-youth charity, partnership working is at the heart of our youth engagement work operationally and strategically and the majority of our activities are delivered with schools, uniformed groups, youth organisations and charity partners. We will continue to develop these local and regional partnerships, adopting new models of working to co-produce and co-design programmes for particular groups and communities.
On a national level, we will continue to work closely with our Youth Advisory Group which brings together experts from across the youth and wider charity sector with young people and Trust colleagues to help shape and steer our youth strategy, help us to recognise and adopt best practice, maximise impact and outcomes for young people and respond to upcoming opportunities.
E – Evidence the benefits of youth social action
We have an Outcomes Measurement Framework at the Trust which enables us to evidence the impact of our work. Our youth engagement work focuses on demonstrating the benefits around; Health, Wellbeing & Happiness, Engaged People & Cohesive Communities and Learning & Enhancing Skills. We have specific indicators in place to measure: Improved personal wellbeing, increased community connectedness and enhanced connection to nature & environment.
We will continue to capture quantitative and qualitative data so we can evidence the individual and community benefits of youth social action as well as tracking growth in engagement figures. We will also share our organisational journey with others beyond the youth sector to further promote the importance and benefits of youth engagement for organisations.
R – Recognise and celebrate young people’s achievements
We will celebrate our young people in a range of ways, recognising and reflecting the different motivations for getting involved. We will offer certificates, awards, references and support with CV writing and interview prep for those focused on employability.
We will offer team-building and reward activities such as paddleboarding and canoeing to those looking to make friends and have fun and we will run celebration events at the end of projects to showcase young people’s achievements and offer them a platform to share their stories and create personal and professional networks.
We will also utilise our digital platforms to promote young people’s journeys and achievements internally and externally.
Last date edited: 18 November 2020