On the 24th November, Character Scotland/Inspire Aspire had the pleasure of attending the #iwill celebration event for Scotland at the Sky Studios in Livingston. We heard from a variety of wonderful speakers and young people and we all came away with ideas and questions of our own.
On a particularly chilly day in Scotland, I rocked up to The Sky Studios for the #iwill celebration event; I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the studios, from the outside they just looked like a lot of buildings. However, the setting was wonderfully appropriate: the main reception room we would be spending our time in had inspirational words printed in colours around the room - “Be flexible. Be inquisitive. Be inspiring. Be focused. Be decisive,” were just some of these phrases. Pretty apt for an event where individuals and organisations were getting together to support young people and inspire them to make a difference!
After a brief introduction to the studios from Jack Eatherley the Sky Academy Head, I noticed that there was quite a large number of under-25s in the room with me (myself included, mind you!) There were representatives from LGBT Youth Scotland, the Army Cadets, YWCA, YouthBank Scotland and Sky Academywho had worked together to create a news broadcast on social action in their communities before we arrived. After watching the film they’d put together, myself and everyone around me seemed inspired – it was lovely to see young people and their work at the centre of this celebratory event.
Our agenda for the day included a variety of speakers and then some break-out workshops where we would have a chance to discuss together the ways we thought youth social action could be increased in the UK.
Particular highlights from the day’s presentations included Kam Dhaliwal from #iwill’s presentation of IPSOS MORI Research for this year, Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Steve Frew and his inspiring story of how he never gave up on his goals, told with vibrancy and enthusiasm; and Louise Macdonald from Young Scot’s introduction to us of “#iwill rewards” with YoungScot cards.
There were also presentations from Jim Sweeney, of YouthLink Scotland, Paul Reddish of Project Scotlandand Jackie Halawi from Education Scotland. One particularly interesting statistic I heard from Paul at Project Scotland who said that 93% of Project Scotland’s volunteers from 3-10 years ago believed they wouldn’t be where they were today without the volunteering work they did.
The part that most people look forward to in these type of events is the discussion part – the part where we get to hear from all the organisations and individuals who have been brought together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the presentations – but it is always great to invoke some real, fast-paced, back and forth dialogue! During the workshops we worked together to answer two key questions:
Some of the ideas floating about amongst the groups included: looking at how schools can create more flexibility and freedom for young people to take part in events; the challenge that young people don’t know where to go to find volunteer opportunities and can schools help this; the lack of opportunities for primary school level young people; do we need to give young people incentives to volunteer?
The event was a wonderful example and display of celebrating young people and their efforts in Scotland; having the film created by various young groups in the Sky Academy Studios was a lovely reminder of why all these organisations were here together: to inspire young people to do the best and be the best they can be.
My key question after the workshops and discussions I had with many others was; how can we get volunteering and social action more involved in schools
After speaking to several of the Army Cadets, not one said they were told about the organisation at or through school.
For example, these young people at the event were getting up and presenting to audiences of adults, voicing their opinions during workshop discussions, and hearing from such inspirational and successful figures – surely this fits into the Curriculum for Excellence and goals of education?
Do we need to target schools and educators to open up these opportunities and events to young people?
Did you attend the #iwill event? Do you have any ideas of your own? Tweet us and check out www.iwill.org.uk for futher information on how you and your organisation can pledge to get involved in the social action revolution!
Written by Sarah Virgo