The pandemic has been challenging for everyone in many different ways. For the British Youth Council, we had to suspend all of our in-person work with young people and suddenly increase the digital deliveryp of our programmes.
However, Impact Report was good news amongst the many months of bad. The report celebrates the many achievements of our young people, our staff, and our volunteers – and I want to thank each and every one of you.
As the national youth council of the UK, The British Youth Council is in a unique position to bring young people together to find their voice, and use it to improve their lives. Especially as we consider life beyond the pandemic, it is vital that the needs and views of young people are valued, sought and acted upon by those with the power to create an environment where young people are empowered to create social and political change.
With your help, we’ve been able to reach young people that we’ve never reached before. In 2019 and 2020 we reached a combined total of 1,025,000 young people with our Make Your Mark annual ballot; equivalent to 1 in 5 11-18 year olds in the UK. Across our programmes: 27% come from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, 22% are LGBT+ with 4% not identifying as the gender they were assigned at birth, 22% are disabled or with a life limiting condition and 31% were in receipt of free school meals.
Our programmes, the UK Youth Parliament and NHS Youth Forum enable us to bring together young people and decision makers to improve young people’s health and wellbeing, as well as increasing their access to healthcare services. The work of the NHS Youth Forum has been based on key areas identified through their engagement with young people.
This is the power of youth voice: identifying the learning gaps that are currently missing from medical students’ education – such as health inequalities within minority groups across England – and effecting positive change on the subject. This has been done by working to improve the experience for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and/or long term conditions (LTC) in schools and educational settings, and creating a resource that will provide tools for Trans and non-binary young people to self-advocate when meeting with a healthcare professional. This important work will resonate far beyond those involved, and has the ability to change the lives and health outcomes for many young people.
Through our programmes, young people had access to decision makers at the highest levels. In the last year the Bank of England Youth Forum led research and presented to the Governor of the Bank of England on the financial impact of Covid-19 on young people.
When so many things were uncertain during the pandemic, the British Youth Council refused to simply stand still on our mission to empower young people. During 2020 and 2021 we established two new programmes with the Careers and Enterprise Company and the Youth Futures Foundation. Both programmes are centred around youth employment and are creating opportunities for young people to feed in and shape interventions that will support the youth community as a whole..
But we couldn’t be the national youth council without our 160+ members. Our members work together to empower young people to get involved in in decision making and develop themselves as leaders and advocates. Through our members we reach over a million young people. These diverse groups range from local youth councils, clubs and youth forums, to special interest groups and national organisations. Examples include Girlguiding and The Scouts to Leeds Muslim Youth Forum, Woodcraft Folk, Ambitious About Autism, Whizzkids, and The Kite Trust. Our members are at the heart of decision making at British Youth Council. They elect our board, determine our policies and prioritise our campaigns. We are mandated for and by them.
This brilliant work is only possible because of the support of so many people. In particular I want to take a moment to thank the Blagrave Trust and Paul Hamlyn Foundation for their core funding support, and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for their investment in our youth leadership and member development programme. The Jack Petchey Foundation and Social Investment Business Fund have enabled us to expand our operational capacity in fundraising and income generation. Four Acre Trust have supported us for another year providing matched funding for our Big Give Christmas Challenge. And the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust alongside the National Lottery, are supporting our programmes and campaigns in youth democratic participation.
We also want to recognise and thank our major donors, Kevin Munday and Tim Coates, alongside our British Youth Council Empower members, who give to us monthly and are the vital lifeblood of our organisation.
We are also full of gratitude for all of the fundraisers who have raised money for us in 2021 – you are amazing!
With thanks also to all of our delivery partners, who work together with us to lift the voices of young people.
The ambitions of young people know no limits, so neither do we. There is so much important work still to do, if you would like to get involved in supporting young people to do all this and more next year then you can help out in the following ways.