WE Partnership: Enabling youth-led projects to drive positive impact
WE and The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust
In 2018, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust were proud to launch a partnership in the UK and Canada with WE, to allow projects developed by young people taking part in WE programmes, to be brought to life with support from QCT. In coming together, this partnership is enabling more young people to deliver impact in their local communities by providing access to funding, connecting young leaders to a wider network and championing their work to inspire others to join in.
WE is a movement that believes in the power of youth to come together and create positive change for their communities and beyond. With over 3.8 million young people engaged in their programming globally, WE offers an unparalleled network of youth advocates, who are passionate about making a positive difference on the social issues that they care about, on both a local and global scale.
Keep reading to find out more about some of the young leaders and their projects, from what motivated them to start something to what their ambitions are for the future.
Partnership in action: Write About Me
Yolanda runs Write About Me, a project that addresses the lack of diversity represented in books that her school provides.
Tell us about your project…
As a student librarian, I am very familiar with many of the books in the school library. However, when I started looking closer at our shelves, I was aware that we only had a few books which seemed to represent me and my peers. This lack of representation has an impact on how young people engage with literature as they struggle to find stories and characters that they can relate to. With reading playing such a significant role in the achievement of both school children and adults alike, I felt that it was an issue we needed to tackle sooner rather than later and create an environment which better reflects the diversity of our society.
The project ‘Write About Me’ therefore came about for two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to encourage our school to actively seek out books from a diverse range of authors which included those from BAME backgrounds, are LBGTQ+ or from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, allowing pupils to find books which resonate with them more personally. Secondly, we wanted to encourage pupils from a range of backgrounds to feel inspired enough to write their own stories which could be shared in our library in a collection of short stories.
What do you hope to achieve through Write About Me?
We hope to encourage a new-found love of both reading and writing amongst our student body. We want them to know that their experiences are valuable and needed, and we hope that this project will inspire the pupils to read a wider range of books from a wider range of author and in turn, produce their own stories where they are able to create characters who truly represent them.
As school librarians, if we can expand our knowledge and skills about the issues the project wants to explore then we will know how to offer a better service and encourage more pupils to visit the library to learn more about other cultures through a wider range of books, but also ignite a love of reading in those who have felt disenchanted by what is on offer in library.
What’s next for your project?
This QCT Award is providing us with an incredible opportunity to build ‘Write About Me’ into a whole school initiative, working in partnership with the wider parent/teacher community to connect more young people with the stories and experiences of a more diverse range of people. Our ambition is that all pupils feel represented within the literature available at school, and this funding will help us to achieve this goal.
Partnership in action: Impact Cooking Club
Ben and Katie lead Impact Cooking Club, a project that aims to provide people with the tools and skills to cook well on a budget. From recipe inspiration, to practical cooking tips, the cookery club upskills students in important life skills which they can then apply at home.
Tell us about your project…
We know that there are many families who struggle to keep a roof over their heads while also paying to feed and clothe their family. Whilst we already support a number of established groups in our community who are tackling these issues, including the YMCA and Crawley Open House, we saw a gap in available support for under 16’s and their families, so set about thinking how we could help.
The Impact Cooking Club exists to upskill students in both life and social skills to young people. Through the club we cover everything from cooking and keeping a kitchen clean, to budgeting and how to make the most of available ingredients. Beyond the practical skills, we have also seen new friendships form and self-esteem rise as students learn new skills together. There’s no achievement quite like tucking in to a homemade meal that you have prepared from scratch for the first time!
What are your ambitions for the project in the future?
The long-term goal for our cookery club is to inspire more students to learn simple recipes that they can then go and make at home again. With these recipes we want to go on and produce a cookery book which we can then to sell and raise money for charity and to help support the club in the future. We acknowledge that not everyone has the luxury of a fully functioning kitchen at home, so the recipes we provide demonstrate how families can provide nutritious meals using different appliances. Some students will only have access to a microwave, so sometimes we show how you can cook savoury or sweet muffins in a cup – no oven needed. They are delicious and healthy too!
What’s next for your project?
The funding we’ve received from the QCT means the club can continue to grow with better ingredients, equipment and facilities - most notably a new double oven and fridge/freezer. This in turn will help us to support more students and their families who might not otherwise have the skills needed to provide healthy, balanced meals on a budget. We are also aware that not all children go home to a cooked meal, so we want to expand our current cookery club to more days. It is currently full so having more days means that more can attend and prepare not only a hot meal for themselves but take some home too, along with the recipe, to share with their family.
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