31st January 2017
Social action has unequivocally been Phrase of the Day here at Youth United, with the inaugural Youth United Social Action Awards being held at Buckingham Palace, in the presence of our Patron and Founder, HRH The Prince of Wales and our funder, Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson.
Behind the scenes, the nomination process saw Youth United member organisations, as well as Uniformed Youth Social Action Fund grantees, put forward their own best social action from among the new uniformed youth groups. Youth United was to select from among these nominations for three special awards for Impact, Dedication and Teamwork. And what better way to judge youth social action, than by asking a group of young people, who are leading fantastic social action activities in their own communities to use their experience and take on the most difficult challenge, to select three special winners.
Ryan Bickle (11), Mohammed Usman (20) and Alex Jones (18) represent a small part of the 12 #iwill ambassadors, who served as judges for the top awards. Youth United caught up with them, just before the event, to talk all things social action and to hear about their experience as judges.
Q: How did you end up getting involved in social action? What does social action mean to you?
Ryan: I lost my Grandad, he was a very important person to me and when he was taken ill, I saw the time and effort put forward by the carers. It inspired me to get up and help to make a difference like these people did. Social action means that if I can help people less fortunate than me by giving a little of my time, I can make other people’s lives or the community better.
Alex: I ended up getting involved in social action through campaigning and volunteering for transgender rights within the youth. Social action means to me changing things for a better future.
Q: What do you think could encourage other young people like yourself to make a difference?
Ryan: By taking part and highlighting the positive consequences of social action, if they can see the change maybe they will want to be the change? The younger we start, the better we understand the future.
Mohammed: Providing opportunities for young people but also engaging with young people in order to hear their stories, and the challenges they have faced. Therefore, by reaching out to young people and showcasing how they can personally benefit from these opportunities, but also how they can help others around them.
Alex: To encourage young individuals like myself, I think you need to show that individual the positives of taking part in youth social action. Youth social action helps mental health. It increases your chances in university and for a job, so people need to realise it’s such a positive role to carry out.
Q: Tell us a bit more about the judging process: how did you approach judging? What did you look for when deciding who the winner should be for the three special awards?
Ryan: I have never been asked to do anything like this before; it was a tough process, with many groups, who all do great work. My dad helped me to do it. I looked for the impact it could have in a community setting, the teamwork it takes to plan and implement changes and the finished projects. I also looked for things I felt were important to the community and are things I can relate to. Picking one winner was very hard and everyone should be commended for the work they have done. Well done all!
Mohammed: I have previously been involved in judging social action campaigns, so I was fully aware of what I was looking at; this time around, I researched about Youth United and what the organisation stands for. While reading the applications, I was blown away by the effort involved in order for these young people to make a difference. However, what scored highest with me was the stories behind each nomination, the people involved, but also the journey that lead them to come up with the idea. It was very difficult because the quality of the applications was phenomenal.
Alex: I’ve never judged before so approaching it was somewhat confusing, as I knew it would be hard narrowing the groups down to three. Impact for me scored highest on all the groups, as you never realise how much a team has truly impacted an individual and sometimes this needs to be highlighted.
Q: Do you have any advice for other young people out there doing social action?
Ryan: I would encourage all of them to keep doing what they’re doing, no matter how big or small it is. Every piece of youth social action is as important as the next. Spread the word with your work to encourage others to step up and follow you.
Mohammed: Advice I would give to nominees is to highlight your personal journey, and how it leads you to come up with your social action idea.
Alex: I’d tell them to keep doing what they’re doing – they’re helping, inspiring and changing the world, which is a powerful thing to do. I’d tell them to be proud!