BLOG: Youth social action and me

A photograph of Jack White, a member of Groundwork's Federation Board

My first act of social action that I can recall is planting daffodil bulbs in my local park as a Beaver aged six. That was sixteen years ago. I still walk past those daffodils today and that fond memory from my time as a Beaver always comes back to me.

Taking part in social action is something that has continued to be something important in my life. I am a huge believer in young people taking part in social action. It gives young people an insight into the problems facing their community, but also how they can provide solutions to those problems.

Instilling a sense of belonging in young people

As a Cub Scout Leader in my free time and also through working as an NCS Team Leader, I continue to see this. Inspirational young people coming together, making a positive and lasting difference to their community.

My current group of young people from Newcastle taking part in the Autumn NCS programme did not know each other three weeks ago, but they have come together, raised money and will be using that money to buy much-needed clothing for homeless young men in the city.

As their leader, I have noticed the change in them even in a short space of time. They have got an increased sense of belonging to their community. And in the age of gadgets and infinite social media, feeling a sense of belonging is more important than ever.

Joining Groundwork’s Youth Advisory Board

Groundwork has a long and proud history of helping to transform the lives of individuals in some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities through social action. It was this vision which inspired me to get involved with Groundwork’s Youth Advisory Board when they first advertised the opportunity in 2017.

The idea behind the Youth Advisory Board was to ensure that young people were involved in shaping Groundwork from the inside. In our first year, we were given a tremendous amount of responsibility to plan our own campaign which we called Inclusive Spaces.

The Inclusive Spaces campaign was hugely successful leading to a network of 100 Groundwork Young Green Ambassadors that connected with local Groundwork Trusts up and down the country and led to 50 Youth-led intergenerational events.

Since then the Youth Advisory Board has helped on another campaign, been involved in funding bids and has had a huge amount of input into the new strategy for Groundwork beyond 2020.

Becoming a Trustee on Groundwork’s Federation Board

Having the opportunity to help shape a third sector organisation from a young age encouraged me to apply for the opportunity to become a Young Trustee, when Groundwork launched the opportunity earlier on in the year.

I joined the Board in September at the Groundwork AGM and even though it is early days, I have felt incredibly well supported and we have been offered a mentor as well which I believe will be incredibly useful both in my role as a Trustee and also with future career opportunities once I graduate from university.

I found the first meeting to be very welcoming and no question was a silly question.

Young Trustees are becoming more prevalent across the third sector which is encouraging. In fact, myself and Faiza, should not even be called Young Trustees if Boards were as representative as the communities they represent.

However, my advice to third sector organisations this #iWill week, is that Youth Advisory Boards and exposure activities are so important in the recruitment of Young Trustees.

Jack White is one of Groundwork UK’s first Federation Board Trustee to be appointed through a young trustee recruitment process in September 2019.  

Follow Jack’s Trustee journey on Twitter