In 2020’s Make Your Mark ballot, young people voted both plastic pollution and climate change in their top five priority issues. This year, the UK Youth Parliament will be campaigning to address climate change at a national level with a particular focus on making sure that we stop non-essential single use plastics by 2025.
The British Youth Council recognises that solutions like litter picks and recycling are not enough, and that the Government must reduce the amount of plastics initially produced. However, the sad reality is that the average Briton’s annual plastic waste includes 242 plastic bottles, 109 single-use coffee cups and 209 crisp packets according to a DS Smiths poll, and a good proportion of that does still end up littering our communities.
This autumn the British Youth Council are encouraging you as our supporters to keep your communities tidy, reduce plastic pollution, and raise money for the British Youth Council all at the same time. We are looking to raise £500 to support our programmes and campaigns such as Stop Plastic Pollution, and we need your help!
All you have to do is:
- Grab some bin bags, rubber gloves and litter pickers – you can order these online or borrow kits from your local council – and organise a day to go to your local woods, park, beach or town centre and pick up any stray litter you find. Many local organisations also run community litter picks, so you could arrange to tag along with one of those if you would prefer.
- Get a group of friends together to have more of an impact – the more of you there are, the easier it will be to clean up more rubbish, and the more money you’ll be able to raise.
- Set up a Virgin Money Giving or Facebook Donate fundraising page, where your friends and family can sponsor you for your hard work. Remember to share your fundraising page often, and keep your family and friends updated with photos of you on your litter pick.
- Finally, dispose of the litter that you pick up in a sensible and sustainable way. Recycle anything that can be recycled, and be careful of any sharp objects that you find.
This a really fun way to keep your local area tidy, promote the reduction of single-use plastic within your community, and raise vital funds for the British Youth Council to put towards our campaigns such as Stop Plastic Pollution.
We encourage you to visit the Keep Britain Tidy website for more information and advice on preparation and safety before you begin your Litter Pick!
You can also support us by making a donation via our Virgin Money Giving page.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have spoken to a number of people interested in becoming a charity trustee. There are two common questions:
- What exactly is a trustee?
- Have I really got the experience to contribute?
I won’t dwell on the first question too much, as other blogs cover it – as does extensive information online (I would recommend ‘The Essential Trustee’.
However, the second question is probably a simpler answer than most people expect.
When people think of boards, they often think of highly qualified professionals in formal attire sitting around a table and talking about complex issues. Professionals who ‘know their stuff’. This means a lot of people – regardless of age – are nervous about what they would bring to a board of trustees. The truth is that these fears are missing the point.
The most effective charity boards I have seen have trustees who are inquisitive. Trustees who ask questions and ask for clarity. These questions are crucial to picking up on things that might otherwise have been missed, or to thinking of new ways of working – and it absolutely does not need to be heavily experienced individuals asking the questions. Indeed, the most effective boards I have seen are genuinely diverse. Diverse in terms of level of experience, background, interests, you name it. What is important is that Trustees can offer different perspectives.
So, what do you need to be an effective trustee? I would say:
- A willingness to speak up – the ability to ask questions and challenge the status quo
- A curiosity in the charity and its strategy
- A real desire to make a difference to the charity and its beneficiaries
Despite how it may be coming across, I am not saying that boards don’t need expertise. They definitely do. Indeed, varied experience across the board is crucial to effective governance. However, what I am saying is that to become a trustee, you don’t need to know it all. At the age of 24, I myself can absolutely not pretend to know even close to ‘it all’. As the title says, if you have the desire to make a difference, you’re almost certainly more qualified to be a trustee than you might think.
Being a trustee is a responsible role. It can at times be challenging, and issues you may not have seen before will often come up. But if you’re passionate and interested – and most importantly willing to speak up and contribute – you can be in no doubt that you will be an asset to the board. The British Youth Council has the most welcoming and supportive board you could ask for, so don’t shy away from applying if you’re interested in becoming a trustee.
We are currently looking for people with experience in people, change management, finance and risk for our ongoing appointment round. As is the theme throughout this blog, this experience can come in different shapes and sizes. You may have gained experience through volunteering, or through school or university. You may have a part-time or full-time job that deals with related issues. If this sounds like you, we would be keen to hear from you and hear a bit more about what you might have to offer as well as why you might want to support the British Youth Council.
If you would like to join our Board of Trustees, find out more. And if you’re still having doubts, why not reach out to a trustee for a chat?
Sunday 25th July saw the return of large-scale organised runs in the capital, with the ASICS London 10k taking over the streets between Oxford Street and Westminster.
The British Youth Council team, made up of supporters and partners, took part in this exciting run to raise vital funds in support of our work empowering young people to share their voice and create meaningful change. A cheer team was also on hand to provide a boost to all of the runners and to soak up the atmosphere of the event.
Overall, the British Youth Council team raised a phenomenal £1,112. This is an incredible achievement from our runners, and all of the funds raised will be invested into amplifying the voices of young people all across the UK.
Thanks to all of our amazing runners, our fantastic cheer team, and everyone who sponsored and supported along the way. We couldn’t do what we do without any of you!
If you would like to take part in a challenge event or would like to organise your own fundraising event, please get in touch with our Fundraising Intern, Olivia Attey, on email@example.com
The British Youth Council’s 100k in a month Challenge is coming to an end. It began in February 2021 as a way to engage with our supporters in a fun but Covid-safe setting, and it has been immensely successful in its first year. All together, we raised over £3000 in this challenge, which is more than three-times our initial target! As a community, we grew, with partakers from across the UK and all over Europe participating, and sponsors from all over the world.
Thank you to all of you who participated, shared and donated to this challenge, as without your AMAZING support and effort, we never would have achieved such an accomplishment.
One of our participants Chris Attey, 58, decided to take part in this challenge along with 5 friends he’s known since school. They walked from Chepstow (Monmouthshire, Wales) to Carey (Herefordshire, England) following along the Wye river. They accomplished 80km in 2.5 days!
Chris shared this heart-warming message about his experience, “I often walk less than 3,000 steps in a day, so completing over 40,000 for two consecutive days, and then another 20,000 the next morning was a massive challenge. I almost gave up after day two, I ached so much, but seeing the donations still coming in gave me a massive boost and kept me going. The British Youth Council does such important work and raising money for them by doing this challenge has been a privilege. One of the most enjoyable and satisfying experiences I’ve ever had!”
If you are interested in partaking in another Challenge for the British Youth Council, or know someone who would be, we have exciting news for you – The British Youth Council has two more spots free in the Asics 10K London Run, which will take place on the 25th July, 2021. But hurry, the deadline is the 16th July, 2021.
If you missed out on doing the 100k this year, do not worry! We will be launching this challenge event again next year in February, so be sure to mark it in your calendars.
Policy plays a big role in our work here at the British Youth Council. It is driven directly from the manifestos of the UK Youth Parliament and the British Youth Council. These important documents, like all the work we do, are formed and reviewed by young people depicting what local and international issues matter most to them. The motions put forth in these documents also include the British Youth Council’s annual priority topics, which young people actively go on to campaign on, with one of our biggest campaigns being the Votes at 16 campaign. With the help of many other organisations, coalitions with the same aims, and government groups we are involved with such as All Party Parliamentary Groups, campaigns like this in particular have gone on to make real change in other parts of the UK.
Our policy work as helped young people interact and engage with various political stakeholders in a wide range of programmes. Some of these include the Covid-19 Task Force Enquiry, the DCMS Youth Review, and the Youth Voice Group, who have worked to pair young people with government departments such as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Cabinet Office to consult on topics such as domestic abuse. They have helped us to create platforms and opportunities where young people can feel empowered to speak up on important matters that affect their lives, and make relevant changes.
Another programme led by young people is the Youth Select Committee. This has showcased the real importance of our policy work, having launched their report on knife crime in 2019, which the Government has acknowledged and responded to. Prior this report, young people facilitated various roundtables, consultations, and meetings forming crucial relationships with political leaders and community organisations also keen to dismantle the knife crime epidemic.
Finally, to shine light on the amazing international team and their tremendous engagement within international policy. The British Youth Council currently have two of our UK Young Ambassadors actively serving and representing on international boards; the Commonwealth Youth Council and The European Youth Parliament. Our international team help represent the young people in our community on international issues such as the environment and gender-based violence, having recently written a joint letter with the European Youth Forum to our Foreign Office calling for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. In all, young people have shown tremendous commitment to making positive change in the world of policy.
If you care about our policy work which enables us to empower young people and provide them with a platform to speak up and be heard, please show your support with a small donation, or sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with our activities!
When I was first elected to the board I truly felt I had gotten there on sheer luck. How could I, a 19 year old living in Devon, have ended up on the board of a national charity? And, it’s a worry I had again last year when our members elected me as Chair at 23.
In the months since I was elected as chair I have been thinking a lot about “imposter syndrome” and particularly what it means for us at British Youth Council. This is probably a rather unconventional look at imposter syndrome.
The concept of imposter syndrome relies on a belief that your talent or qualifications do not meet the threshold for holding a particular role or office. But when the role is without a set list of qualifications, like being a trustee, it can be a bit more complicated; this isn’t a role that says you require certain A-Level grades, a particular degree, or 5 years professional experience.
This role requires you to bring a diverse range of skills, and some of those skills will be different to other people on the board. This is how we make sure that as a board we are comprehensive so we can cover all areas. This is how we make sure we have good governance. In my non-British Youth Council life, I work in Parliament. I bring a knowledge of policy to the board, but I will never claim to be a finance or risk whiz.
Knowing what you bring to the table is a skill set in itself. It is the ability to assess our own strengths and weaknesses, and identify where we might need help. This doesn’t make you an imposter – it makes you smart.
I take issue with the idea of imposter syndrome, especially in volunteering and elected roles like being a British Youth Council trustee. When our trustees are elected or appointed they have been through multiple application and interview rounds. This process is designed to ensure that they have the right skills needed to be a good trustee. If they are elected they are presented to members who then make the decision about who is elected.
I think for me to say that I felt like an imposter as Chair of British Youth Council would be a bit insulting to the Search Group who reviewed my application and interviewed me and to the members who elected me. For me to say to all of those people that “you were wrong, I shouldn’t be here”, is undermining their credibility in making decisions.
So no, I don’t have imposter syndrome.
I might at times lack self confidence but that is far more likely to be that I am not an old, white man like most charity chairs rather than my ability to do the role. When members elected me as chair, I had already served four years on the board and brought with me experience from my life outside British Youth Council. To say that I got here on “luck”, is to ignore all the work I put in to acquire the skills and experience to be able to do this role well, it is also to undermine the judgment of those who elected me here.
I think a lot of the time we self diagnose ourselves with “imposter syndrome” instead of drawing attention to the systemic and structural barriers holding the most marginalized back. To ignore these barriers, to dress it up in a nice bow with an easy name of “imposter syndrome”, means that we will not be able to address them, work on them, and overcome them.
Earlier this year, we encouraged our supporters to take part in a challenge to walk, run or cycle 100km in one month, with the aim of raising money and awareness of the British Youth Council. We have absolutely loved keeping up with the participants as they embark on their challenges and work towards their fundraising targets.
We asked Dylan, one of the participants in this challenge, why he has chosen to support the British Youth Council in this way.
He said, “My name is Dylan and I am one of the [Members of Youth Parliament] for Surrey. I am fundraising through doing #100KinMay, where I walk, run or cycle 100 Kilometres in May! I chose to fundraise for the British Youth Council because I want to keep on seeing the amazing work that they do, and keep on holding events for young people. You can donate to my fundraising page using this link: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Dylan100KinMay.”
As the pandemic has reduced our physical activity, as well as the support that charities have been able to receive, fundraising through taking part in challenge events has become more significant than ever.
Challenge events act as a powerful tool to get people talking about a cause, as well as providing motivation to keep fit and see what you are capable of. With our 100km challenge not concluding until the end of June, it isn’t too late to sign up and get walking if you wish to get involved!
Whether you wish to walk, run, roll, cycle or swim for the British Youth Council, by participating in a challenge event you will be supporting young people to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives.
If you have any questions, please contact Olivia on firstname.lastname@example.org
As of 17th May, fundraising in line with Government guidance has been able to resume as part of Step 3 of the Spring 2021 Roadmap.
However, there is still some way to go until all community fundraising activities can proceed. With that in mind, we would love to encourage you as British Youth Council supporters to get creative and fundraise in any way you can over the next few months.
Here are some ideas of ways that you can continue to help us as we gradually make our way out of lockdown:
- Do a sponsored silence at your school, university, or workplace to highlight the importance of Youth Voice.
- If you’re into art or baking, why not sell some artwork (prints work really well for mass-production) or bakes? This can be done easily on social media, or locally within your community, as long as you’re sure to comply with the rules.
- In keeping with our 2021 campaign to Stop Plastic Pollution, do a sponsored park or beach clean-up in your local community.
- Encourage your current or old school to hold a non-uniform day, where students and staff members can dress casually in exchange for a £1 or £2 donation
- Hire an entertainer for a Zoom performance. Charge your friends and family for tickets which cover the cost of the entertainer plus a small donation, and set up a donation link for guests to use throughout the evening.
If you need any information or help, we are here for you. Simply get in touch by emailing Olivia at email@example.com and tell us what you are planning, and we will support you throughout your campaign and make it a success.
And remember, if you wish to donate yourself, you can always visit our website to make a one-off donation or become one of our regular supporters.
The word ‘diversity’ can trigger a whole spectrum of emotions and thoughts. For many people from underrepresented backgrounds it often induces feelings of skepticism. Many organisations come out claiming to want more ‘diversity’ and that they appreciate ‘diversity’ but a lot of the time it can be perceived as insincere and merely a box ticking exercise, especially when they have a poor track record on taking action against inequalities. In these circumstances, diversity is superficial and is not embedded into the organisation’s strategy and culture. Most of the focus is on bringing ‘diversity’ in, and organisations often forget about the important steps; how do we make sure that these voices are: heard and empowered, have the influence to make meaningful change and actually feel safe and valued in this space.
The British Youth Council have always been ahead of the curve when taking action on inequalities. Our young people are so passionate about fighting injustices and over the years we have supported them to do amazing things such as: speaking out on trans rights in healthcare and health inequalities, supporting an LGBT-inclusive curriculum, supporting ethnic minorities, disabled, LGBT+, women and faith group liberation campaigns through Equality for Us, calling for an end to anti-Black police brutality and to violence against young women and girls.
As the British Youth Council’s lead representatives, the Board of Trustees, are responsible for guiding the strategic direction of the charity. Fighting inequalities is very important to our members and so we must insure that it is reflected in our Board and in our strategy.
The Board has been on a journey in improving representation. In previous years it was heavily male dominated, now the majority of the board are women. However we know we must do more. The goal is to ensure our Board is continuously reflective of the diverse mix of identities and backgrounds we have at membership level. We are looking inward to make sure our policies and processes are inclusive so it is a safe and empowering space for everyone.
At the British Youth Council we are not just saying we want more ‘diversity’, we have looked at our Board and reflected on who are the underrepresented groups and we have clearly stated who we think are missing at the table. We welcome applications from all eligible young people, and this year we are particularly keen to receive applications from young people who:
- are aged 16 to 21;
- live in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland;
- Identify as having a disability or life limiting condition.
- Identify as Black, Asian or from a minoritised ethnic community.
- Identify as LGBTQ+
As a Black woman applying to be on the Board last year, seeing a majority white board and being the only Black person running for a trustee position I had concerns around the work done on inequalities at the highest level of the charity and concerns around having the ability to be successful in the recruitment process. I am now more aware of the great work done at membership level and how well the staff support our members. However I know that it is not enough and we must continuously work towards making sure all levels of the organisation is representative. The Board is passionate about this issue too and we hope that this year we can make more progress towards improving representation as well by embedding this work in our strategy. Overall, we can continue being a charity that is ahead of the curve on fighting against inequalities.
If you would like to join our Board of Trustees, find out more here: https://www.byc.org.uk/members/trustee-recruitment
The deadline for all applications is Monday 21st June 2021
In October 2020, I was elected as a UK Young Ambassador and Representative of the British Youth Council at the European Youth Forum. Not quite the news I was expecting during my first weeks at university, but I was delighted to be elected.
What is the European Youth Forum?
The European Youth Forum is the largest youth organisation in the world and represents tens of millions of European young people via delegates from both National Youth Councils, such as the British Youth Council, and international non-governmental youth organisations such as YMCA. We work to increase the participation of young people and youth organisations in society, and we are a recognised partner of the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.
Whilst there are many elements to the work of the European Youth Forum, and as UK Young Ambassadors we always strive to work internally within the British Youth Council as well as internationally, our main events are the biannual General Assembly and Council of Members meeting. At the 2020 General Assembly, we elected members to the board of the Youth Forum and the wonderful Tom Matthews from the British Youth Council fought a successful campaign to gain a place. Whilst this is an exceptional achievement and we are all very proud of Tom, it left me as the lead delegate with the voting responsibilities for last week’s Council of Members meeting.
Council of Members meeting 2021
Although we had hoped otherwise, April 17th and 18th found us back online instead of Brussels for this year’s Council of Members meeting. By ‘us’ I mean Tom, me and our last-minute-stand-in-extra-delegate-extraordinaire Dave Morris, policy officer of the British Youth Council. Dave’s presence meant that I wasn’t bound to the screen for every single second that the meeting was active.
Even though the meeting was online, there is something special about the atmosphere of a European Youth Forum meeting that it is still felt virtually, and as we sat at our respective screens, across Europe, there was a real sense of togetherness.
The main body of the meeting was taken up with elections for the Advisory Council on Youth for the Council of Europe. They are one of our partner organisations and we send the majority of their members from within our own member organisations, following the election process. Usually, we would be able to hold hostings in person and get to know the candidates personally. However, I found myself jumping on Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, you name it- we tried it, calls in efforts to decide who was going to get the vote of the British Youth Council.
To be the person making those decisions on behalf of the British Youth Council is such a huge privilege and a role to be taken seriously. We also successfully passed a Motion on the Human Rights violation in Western Sahara and on the admission of the National Youth Council of Ukraine. I’m delighted to be able to say that we are continuing to grow and the European Youth Forum now has one more member organisation!
The way forward
As we adjust to life outside the European Union we face not only practical obstacles, such as the loss of Erasmus+ funding for non-formal educational programmes, but we must also adapt to a new international position. For this reason, the words of the Vice-President of the European Youth Forum, Frédéric Piccavet, really struck me. When speaking about the work of the Youth Forum he said, “that’s why I believe that we are stronger together” and as we go on into the post-Brexit era, we would be wise to remember this. Just because we are no longer within the European Union it does mean that the UK can or should foster strong and meaningful relationships within Europe because, fundamentally, we are at our best when we work together; something demonstrated clearly by the work of the European Youth Forum.