The Community Foundation for Calderdale is leading the way in helping the borough mark Youth Social Action week (November 12-16).
The Foundation has been working for over a year with partner organisations in Calderdale to provide opportunities for young people to get involved with the
national #iwill campaign, which has the goal of enabling 10-to-20 year-olds from all backgrounds access to volunteering, campaigning and fundraising opportunities.
Currently, four in 10 young people aged between 10 and 20 get involved in activities that make a positive difference. However, research indicates that almost double this number would take part in things like campaigning, fundraising and volunteering if they had the chance.
Further studies confirm that social action develops modern employability skills, boosts access to further and higher education and supports enhanced well-being among young people.
Steve Duncan, CEO of the Community Foundation, said: “Thanks to donations from local businesses like the Halifax Courier we have already been able to offer over 900 young people the opportunity to take part in social action projects.
“By then end of July 2019 we will have engaged a further 800 young people in projects.
“We simply can’t thank local businesses and individuals enough for the financial support they offer us, especially for this project, because it enabled us to bring in match funding from the Government and the Big Lottery Fund.
“This meant we can offer 27 different projects each lasting a year and cover neighbourhoods from Halifax to Todmorden.”
One such project was the river level monitoring scheme which involves young volunteers, many of whom are concerned about the effects of flooding on their community, in building small devices which incorporated credit card sized single board computers that use the ‘Internet of Things’ to collect data for use in flood warning and in intervention evaluation.
Separate workshops were arranged for young people who were taught in the background science, studied criteria about where they will be locating the devices and ultimately participated in the analysis of the collected data.
Assistant Director of the Community Foundation, Emma Woods-Bolger, said: “Research on behalf of the #iwill campaign shows that there is a significant socioeconomic gap in participation in youth social action. 49 per cent of young people from the most affluent backgrounds participated whilst only 38 per cent of young people from the least affluent backgrounds participated.
“Socioeconomic background is historically one of the strongest influences on whether or not young people participate in any form of social action including volunteering.
“Given that Calderdale is the 89th most deprived of the 326 Local Authority Districts in England, and 19 of our neighbourhoods are in the 10 per cent most multiple deprived areas in the whole of England, we feel it is vitally important to enable young people, wherever they live and whatever their background, to have access to social action opportunities is a key priority of the work.”
The Space Young Leaders project is one of the projects the Community Foundation has funded which is working on the Field Lane Estate in Rastrick.
The estate has 2,500 people in 818 homes, with 550 social housing properties, and is within the highest 20 per cent deprivation in the UK.
Through the project, young people on the estate act as engagement leads, to promote the activities of their group and The Space at Field Lane renovations, to fundraise towards the costs and to be involved in deciding what the old community centre, now called the Space at Field Lane, will be used for.
Last year the project engaged over 180 young people and is aiming to increase numbers this year.
It’s not just charities getting involved in the campaign to increase Youth Social Action - nationally the departments for education have been demonstrating growing support for the importance of youth social action in education.
Locally, Bolton Brow Primary Academy and Calder Learning Trust have partnered with the Community Foundation.
Bolton Brow Primary Academy will, throughout this year, deliver a project lead by volunteer food ambassadors from year five who will work together to engage both pupils and their parents and carers by producing food and meals to share on a regular basis.
Headteacher Dan Burns said: “Thanks to the funding from the Community Foundation we can now offer pupils and their families the chance to take part in healthy eating activities, to make regular meals in school and offer intergenerational cooking sessions, as well as our project to grow our own crops together in the spring and summer terms.”
Emma Woods-Bolger added: “Having 27 local projects all working towards engaging young people in their communities is great, but it takes financial resource to make it happen. I would urge any local business that would like to make their charitable giving count locally to get in touch and donate so that next year we can offer further opportunities to more young people in Calderdale.”
To find out more about the Community Foundation, visit www.cffc.co.uk or call 01422 349700.