More than 1000 young people from the length and breadth of Scotland were joined by representatives from the third, public and private sectors at the YPI National Event celebrating the impact of #generationchange at the Perth Concert Hall.
Jonathan Christie, Deputy UK Director at The Wood Foundation reflects on the day:
“Given the planning involved in the weeks building up to the event, there’s a curious readjustment to life post-event, but the overarching feeling I have is an incredible sense of pride in what young people from across Scotland have achieved through YPI. For such events there’s never an opportunity for a dress rehearsal and we place significant responsibility on the young people who are at the very centre of proceedings each year. When the big day arrives we have a one-time opportunity to connect an array of beautiful jigsaw pieces together into a coherent, powerful story and, without fail, our young people step up to deliver a stunning representation of our programme.
“I was overawed by the young people who stood on stage to share aspects of their YPI experience. Their courage, maturity and confidence is something in which I take a great deal of personal and professional pride.
“As is always the case with a programme of such scale we can only share a snapshot of what has transpired across the academic year. Here we had a select group of empowered young people advocating with conviction and charisma on behalf of the social issues they care most passionately about, whether that be period poverty, mental health, equality or social isolation.
“A key part of YPI is the funding which is channelled to grassroots, social services charities. In the region of £750,000 was contributed to Scotland’s third sector this academic year, supporting causes championed by young people the length and breadth of the country. But what we are keen for young people to recognise, and they do, is that YPI is about far more than just winning their school final and securing a cheque. It is about understanding the world we live in and the role young people can play in raising awareness of societal issues and impacting change.
“Throughout proceedings we spoke about #generationchange and our belief that young people in Scotland can challenge local, national and international issues and have the ability and opportunity now to lead the change we all want to see. This was evident though powerful spoken input that would not have been out of place at a Ted Talk, alongside moments of creativity, laughter and high emotion. Our highest ambition is that YPI acts as a gateway towards sustained, committed youth social action and what came across loudly from all our young people in the auditorium was a ‘call to arms’ to take what they’ve done through YPI to the next level. Our guest speakers Amal Azzudin and Alan Mahon also provided invaluable food for thought.
“Our annual event brings into stark focus the many stakeholders that have contributed to the growth, development and success of YPI over recent years – our funding partners, local authority colleagues, peer organisations, third sector bodies, and of course our schools who fully embrace the programme. As attention turns to the new academic year, our minds focus on the significant opportunities that exist for programme embedding, improvement and broader partnership working which has been integral to the success of YPI to date.
“Our long-term commitment to YPI and Scotland’s young people has been an investment in both the present and future. This past year YPI was completed in almost 250 schools involving more than 30,000 young people. This figure will increase once again in 2019/20. Every year we reflect on progress made, lessons learned and ask ourselves the question what is next. Our ambition only continues to grow alongside the programme’s reach. #generationchange gives us all real hope about how the society of today can be nurtured and the far-reaching role young people will play in creating the civil society of the future.”
Sir Ian Wood KT GBE, Chairman of The Wood Foundation, said:
“In this digital world, our generation of young people are undoubtedly ready for change and it is through initiatives such as YPI that we can support them to achieve just that.
“The maturity and confidence shown by the young people at this year’s event was again very impressive.
“The central tenet of philanthropy is caring, using time and skills to make a difference. This was clear to see at the National Event and gives me a great degree of hope for the future.”
Keynote speaker social rights activist Amal Azzudin said:
“I believe that it is vital for young people to have a safe space where they can engage, discuss and share ideas regarding issues that they care about through programmes such as YPI. Young people have the ability, courage and bravery to create positive change for themselves and others. They just need the opportunity, platform and determination to do so.
“I hope my story inspired some of the young people at the event; I know that theirs have inspired me.”
In the 2018/19 academic year, YPI empowered more than 30,000 young people in Scotland to make a difference in their local communities.
Since YPI was introduced to Scotland by The Wood Foundation in 2008, £4m has been channelled to grassroots social services charities championed by young people.