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Thinking Big for #iwill week
Today marks the start of #iwill week, an annual celebration of youth social action across the UK and a chance to shine the spotlight on remarkable young people who are changing their communities for the better. We’re proud to support the #iwill campaign as a business pioneer, championing the role that businesses large and small can play in creating the conditions where youth social action can flourish. We believe that social action delivers an important double benefit, equipping young people with the skills to succeed, while transforming communities and driving positive social change.
At O2, we have a strong and proud heritage in supporting young people, through our Think Big programme. Launched in 2010, Think Big puts money and trust in young people’s hands to enable them to lead social action projects, addressing the issues they care about most. By leading projects and inspiring others to get involved, young people are broadening their horizons, growing in confidence, developing important transferable skills and improving their own employability. Project leaders are supported by O2 employees with a package of training and mentoring to help them overcome obstacles and reach their project goals.
Since 2010, O2 has put over £3.3m directly into young people’s hands, funding over 7000 young people to lead social action projects across the UK. Project leaders in turn have engaged their peers to participate in the projects, with over 120,000 young people taking part in the programme. We’re incredibly proud of the reach of Think Big, and in particular, the programme’s track record in attracting diverse applicants – with 28% of programme participants from disadvantaged or socially excluded backgrounds. This year, we forged a relationship with Feltham Young Offenders Prison, taking Think Big into the secure estate for the first time, and giving young people the chance to lead projects on the inside which would give them the skills to succeed on release. And it’s working. Ongoing evaluation of the Think Big programme confirms that:
- 56% of young people feel they have changed positively as a result of being involved in Think Big
- 49% view the world differently as a result of leading a Think Big project
- Critically, over a third of young people confirm that being involved in Think Big has improved their employability.
O2 is now part of a growing movement of businesses, third sector organisations, education institutions, local and national government and funders who recognise the value of youth social action as a way to unlock the skills and talents of the next generation while tackling and solving some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges we face. The #iwill campaign has now attracted over 500 organisations who have each pledged to grow youth social action across the UK, encouraging everyone to play their part in making youth social action an everyday part of young people’s lives both now and in the future. To support the campaign and make your pledge, visit www.iwill.org.uk/iwill-pledges/