Category Archives: Learning, Skills, and Young People

Bristol-based charity, Motivation, on the global stage

Motivation’s Amanda Wilkinson

Tonight is the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Motivation is a Bedminster-based charity and social enterprise which could play an important role in this global event.

Around 4,500 athletes from 72 countries are expected to participate. Between today and the 8th August, there will be 283 gold medals won across 22 sports, inclusive of our special interest—parasport. There will be 39 para-events competing in athletics, cycling, weightlifting, swimming, table tennis, triathlon, lawn bowls and 3×3 wheelchair basketball events.

Motivation will be eagerly watching to see if any of the para-athletes are using our Multisport or Flying Start racing wheelchairs—designed right here, in the heart of Bristol.

But it’s not a level playing field…

We believe disabled sports can promote inclusion and tackle the stigma around disability head on. Sport can improve people’s confidence and the way they are perceived by others. Since the 2012 London Paralympics, the success of disability sport has helped bring funding and much needed investment developing access for disabled people to participate in sport.

Motivation help develop grass roots sports by providing the everyday wheelchairs that para-athletes from the world’s low- and middle-income countries will be using to reach the games.

But we know that para-athletes need more support to be able to compete to their full potential. And athletes where we work often cannot afford to. We would love to see a level playing field for all the countries of the Commonwealth.

We know that participation of disabled people in sport positively effects everyone, we would like to see the countries who struggle to fund their athletes be able to field full strength teams in the future.

We have been working in Uganda to promote grass roots sports and greater inclusion via our All Stars Project, providing sports wheelchairs and inclusion training for primary school teachers and coaches.  

All Stars Project in Uganda, Providing young disabled people with sports wheel chairs

The outcomes are clear. Disabled boys and girls are coming to and staying in school, which matters in countries like Uganda where 90% of disabled children are not able to attend school. Attendance was up by 15% in the first year with over 350 disabled children taking their place in primary school.

But the benefits extend beyond this, through the project’s ‘buddy’ system, disabled children and non-disabled children are forging friendships that extend beyond school, as they play and explore together in their communities.

Sport has such an important role to play to bring us hope, fun and belonging – from the successes of the Lionesses at the Euro’s this week that make us proud and excited for an unprecedented win in in the final, to the launch of the Games today.

We are excited by seeing countries coming together in peace as a global community. This is something to celebrate especially after the last couple of years. While we’re always excited to see our chairs in action at elite level, we know that those para-athletes deserve better.

About Motivation

For more than 30 years, Motivation have worked to secure the rights of disabled children and adults by designing and providing wheelchairs, training, and services in countries like India, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda.

But these are tough financial times for us all. Covid-19 and the loss of a significant grant from the UK Government during international aid cuts mean Motivation are facing serious financial challenges.

To tackle this, we launched the Keep Us Moving Urgent Appeal. We are delighted to have reached more than three-quarters to our fundraising target of £300,000, having raised £267,330 so far.

We’re so lucky to be backed by people and organisations across Bristol, and beyond, who want to make the world a fair and inclusive place for everyone, everywhere. Thank you!

Every donation, tweet, share, or like helps to secure the future of disabled children and adults around the world. If you’d like to make a donation, or know more about any of our work, please do get in touch with us.

Imperial Sports Ground’s Super Sense Room

Today’s blog is by Lee West,
Trustee at Imperial Sports Ground

As for many organisations it’s been a challenging time, for the sports centre especially so. The fire in 2018 brought everything to a sudden halt.  But through these times we are beginning to see fruit of the redevelopment and our most recent being our SuperSense sensory room.

On 24 June we officially opened our state-of-the-art sensory room and it’s a true example of how more powerful it is for charities and people to come together, with a common goal, for the right reasons to develop a unique but much needed facility in Bristol.

The sensory room is the largest in Bristol and is based in the heart of the community, within transport links to ensure impact is maximised.

As a charity we have the ethos that “Any child with SEND has the right and ability to develop into adulthood, capable of taking an integral part in a wider society. The Imperial Sports Ground as a Bristol based registered charity has the responsibility to give them every opportunity to succeed.”

We strive to look at wider opportunities to impact people’s lives and provide a safe place to grow; we understand there are many deprived families in Bristol that would benefit from this facility and we’re keen to ensure this is a facility for all; unfortunately, it’s been difficult to find these families but we’re confident in the next few months this will be achieved.

I’m personally working on another project, developing a SEND outdoor play park for Adults and Children, this is another example of how thousands of people can benefit from a life changing facility. We’re on a mission again to raise funds.  As a society we all want to be inclusive but whilst this is the common end goal, we also must acknowledge our unconscious bias. Making these steps, through generations we will be going in the right direction.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Venturer’s Academy, SEN SOS, Incredible Kids, Autistic associations, Quartet and individual donors for their support.

World Poetry Day

Today’s blog is by Caleb Parkin, Bristol’s City Poet.

2020-21

Welcome to this poem, which is
all the cancelled parties.
You don’t need an invitation,
other than that title: Party Poem,
but feel free to imagine one in
twirly cursive writing on fancy perfumed paper,
or – ping! – arriving as a text,
or, if you’re that way inclined,
an official calendar event (survey attached).
You’ve RSVP’d with your eyes and/
or ears, so let’s head inside, away
from this corridor – where you’ve hung up
your ideas about Poems, thankfully,

because this whole party is full of poems:
poems stood around the buffet, removing
clingfilm from shining trays of lingo; pondering
which delicious verbs to nibble; plunging
a ladle into a lustrous crystal punchbowl
full of a drink. A drink, perhaps, you’ll each
be able to describe, in HD 3-D smell
-o-vision, as exactly the one you desired?

You go to find the host: whose
party is this anyway? The music
shuffles days, decades, centuries –
sonata to reggae, gamelan to techno –
mid-track, as though the DJ is wired
into everyone’s heads. Then some new
style of music nobody’s ever heard –
but sways to, intones that
poetry noise, Hmmm.
Room after room,

full of poems, each a party, each
a world. Some opening lines
seem nice enough. Then, this poem
which introduces you to all their friends.
You’ll keep in touch. Maybe there’s
a poem you’ll make official, live with,
framed on your wall? On the stairs,

poems touchscreen scroll, upload
themselves on a digital fizz of hearts.
As you pass, this other huddle
of zip-lipped collar-starched poems
hiss Those other poems aren’t even poems
but you smile politely, move on
to find the bathroom. Knock, wait.

Inside, some poem’s overdone it:
said the wrong thing again to
that other poem they love, a second-
hand smorgasbord of words, words,
WORDS everywhere. Their hair
is full of exclamation marks,
held back by a friendly Editor:
Let’s get you tidied up in a taxi, yeah?

Washing re-washing your hands,
your mind is a dancefloor
of potential; your eyes a glitter
of question marks. You
are a poem in the mirror.
As you set out from this Party Poem –

this rainbow of houses, this high-rise, this woodland,
this high-rise-woodland-rainbow-house –
you’ll glide through rolling streets,
where poems flit between phonelines,
poems claw through side-alley bins
and this poem ferries you home now,
its engine warm and humming.

© Caleb Parkin, September 2020

Young Carers Action Day 2022

© Invisible Army: https://www.invisiblearmy.org/

Today is Young Carers Action Day, where we reflect on the struggles faced by children and young people across Bristol who are caring for someone at home. Young carers are just kids, yet they care for someone who simply could not manage without their help, whether that is for a parent, sibling, or another family member.

The average age of a young carer in the UK is just 13 years old, and some are as young as eight. Research by the BBC and Nottingham University estimated that one in five children in England carry out some care responsibilities, meaning there could be over 18,000 young carers across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Young carers carry the heavy responsibility of caring for someone in their home who is sick, disabled or unable to care for themselves. This can result in young carers feeling isolated and lonely, missing out on childhood opportunities, and being bullied by their peers.

© Invisible Army: https://www.invisiblearmy.org/

The YCAD theme this year is ‘Taking Action on Isolation’ with carers identifying that by having the right support in place – including breaks from their caring responsibilities – it can help to reduce isolation and boost wellbeing.  

Bristol City Council works with the Carers Support Centre to help support young carers across our city. This support ranges from needs assessments to one-to-one and family support as well as facilitating regular young carer groups and activities.

Currently there are just under 500 young carers registered with the Carers Support Centre’s young carers service. This service is vital in supporting young carers in Bristol and I want to express my gratitude for everything that they do.

The organisation’s annual survey shows the challenges facing young carers with:

  • 70% of young carers saying that the impact of their caring responsibilities had got worse
  • 77% said they felt low or depressed
  • 92% said they were anxious and worried
  • 90% said they were stressed
  • 39% said they want more support in school

These results show that there is more to do to improve the support provided for young carers as well as educating professionals to better understand their needs.

© Invisible Army: https://www.invisiblearmy.org/

To mark Young Carers Action Day, the Carers Support Centre organised two events in Bristol and South Gloucestershire helping to bring carers together to have fun, take a break from their caring role, feel better connected with each other and have a sense of belonging.

One event took place yesterday at the You Foundation in Staple Hill in partnership with local schools, and the other takes place at The Station in the city centre. These events provide opportunities for young carers to seek out the different local support services that are available to them. Finding this type of support can help hugely with combating the feelings of being isolated or alone as a young carer.

Alongside this support, it is important that we identify all young carers and their families in our city, to let them know of their right to an assessment and ensure that they can access the support they need. If you know of someone who is a young carer, or a  young person you think may be caring for an adult you can find out more about support from the council here.

To learn more about the Carers Support Centre and how to make a young carer referral please visit their website or call 0117 958 9980.

Foster carers

Being a foster carer is a positively life changing experience. But of course I’d say that. As Director of Children, Families and Safer Communities for the city, children’s wellbeing is my absolute priority. I’m a ‘corporate parent’ to the 680 city children in our care – children, including sibling groups, who cannot live with their families, as shown on this recent BBC documentary. The reasons for this are wide and varied, but the commonality between all these children is that they need love, understanding, determination and someone to truly believe and aspire for them and with them, and to help them come to terms with the adversity and trauma in their lives. Our city ambition is for all our children to experience and belong in a loving family home, and to have the skills and emotional strength of character to be resilient and to succeed, whatever that looks like for them.

It’s for this reason, that I became a foster carer,  but even with the professional role I have, I under estimated the impact fostering would have on me and my family. It is a privilege to support and nurture a child through the ages and stages of their life, to experience the ‘firsts’ with them; the first time they see the sea, ride a bike, attend their first day at a new school, to see the pride when they are elected class rep and to hear them talking about their future and potential career with aspiration and imagination. I have my own ‘birth’ children, and they too have a better appreciation of the adversity in children’s lives, which has made them more curious and empathetic with peers and others around them; more appreciative of what mum and dad do for them.

As a foster carer, I receive an allowance towards the costs of raising a child – clothing, festive holidays, travel, clubs, pocket money. I receive regular training and there are online and face to face support groups to help me understand the experiences and trauma that my foster child may have had, and give me techniques and approaches to support them. Like all children (and adults!), they have great days and not so great days, and it’s these occasions where you can really make the difference, show you care, that you’re committed to them and to remember that all children are little ‘adults in training’ and it’s a privilege to help and assist them on their journey to independence. Additionally, Bristol City Council is a fostering friendly employer, which means that they understand there are times when I must prioritise my foster child to attend a health meeting, or education plan meeting or a care review.

In Bristol, we regard our foster carers as our city ‘VIPs’. Our awesome group of carers come from diverse backgrounds and cultures; black, white, couples, singles, LGBTQ+, younger, retired; all make for a rich pattern of love and support across the city. We have some carers that look after sibling groups, others who support mothers and babies, and some who offer respite at weekends and other occasions. Some more experienced carers are ‘therapeutic carers’, with enhanced training, support and remuneration to care for our more traumatised children.

So you see, I know first-hand that being a foster carer is a positively life changing experience. If you’ve room in your home and your heart, you’d be whole heartedly welcomed into our foster carers family, and well supported to make a difference to a child. If you would like to explore fostering further click here to visit out website.

Children’s Mental Health Week

Today’s blog is by Ivan Powell, Chair of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership

This week marks Children’s Mental Health Week. The theme for 2022 is ‘Growing Together’: helping children to grow emotionally and finding ways for them to help each other grow as well.

‘Growing Together’ feels like a particularly relevant theme after the challenges and adversity that our children and young people have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus exacerbated existing inequalities, reduced vital resources and supportive pathways, and forced our children and young people to adapt, be flexible, and become activists for their own development. In the wider community, people also continue to struggle with their mental health, financial difficulties, and domestic abuse.

The Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership launched the Are You OK? campaign back in 2020. The campaign focuses on helping people find the support they need as well as offering information about services, either for direct support or for advice, during the pandemic. Its key message is simple: let’s all look out for one another, and keep an eye on our friends, family, and neighbours, particularly through tough times.

During the height of the pandemic, we held a workshop to understand the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health. Today, to support Children’s Mental Health Week, we’re promoting the services that can support children and young people the most, at times when things are overwhelming or not OK at home, and they don’t know who to turn to. Resources such as Children’s Mental Health Week’s website are invaluable for children and young people, but also parents, carers and school and youth groups.

We are committed to continuing to listen and talk about mental health, as well as making sure the support is there when people need it the most, to help our children and young people feel safe and make sure they are given the right support to grow into happy and confident adults. Later in March 2022, we will be launching participation guidance within education and youth settings across the city, to encourage children and young people’s voices to be heard in the conversation about health and sex education, as well as the personal, health and social education curriculum.

Find out more about how to spot the signs that someone might be struggling, and the local support services that are available on the Are You OK?, which is part of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership, including a specific page for Children/Families on their website, and through local organisations including Off The Record.

Christmas jumpers (and school uniform!)

Today’s blog is by Kirsty Clark, the Founder and Director of Bristol Uniform Exchange CIC

Bristol Uniform Exchange was created to help reduce the cost of school uniform for Bristol families, by offering items for free! Now, more than ever, we need to support each other and reusing and recycling items seemed like a good place to start. Uniform costs can really mount up, especially if you have more than one child, or children at multiple schools.

We began collecting donations, contact-free at the height of the pandemic, to build a stock items to redistribute. We wanted to be ready to support families when children were allowed to return to school. By providing these uniform items, we hope to support good attendance, engagement and participation across all areas of the curriculum. We have now collected over 6,000 uniform items and accessories which otherwise would have gone to landfill.

How does it work?

Our support is offered all year around. Through our Facebook group and events, families can access the items they need. You can request a specific item through our group, where peer to peer support is offered as well as access to our stock of donations. We also accept direct and discrete referrals and requests through Facebook and our website. Often people can find asking for help hard, so we wanted to have different routes to access us, to suit different needs. Our Facebook group currently has 972 members, who help create a safe, supportive and caring environment.

Families can also come along to our events with items they no longer need and swap them. Equally, you can come along and collect anything you require without making a swap.  We have a range of items including jumpers, polo shirts, skirts and trousers as well as coats and shoes.

We hosted our second uniform exchange day in the summer holidays, staggering entry times to allow space, asking volunteers and families to wear masks and to observe social distancing. All donated or swapped items were also quarantined. Our friends at Bristol Children’s Playhouse let us use their space in their preschool room in Greenbank. The event was a huge success with families swapping and collecting the items they needed. We kitted out 100 people in the few hours we opened.

Wish Lists

We have been fortunate enough to secure funding to support our project further and extend our work. We are very grateful to BoKlok who have donated to our project. Their support has enabled an immediate extension of our ‘wish list’ scheme. This scheme enables families to request items we have been unable to source through donations. We have worked with several uniform supplies, locally and nationally, to purchase items needed. This has often been for the pricey, branded garments such as blazers and PE kit items. We have been able to agree discounted rates for items and some supplies have even given items for free and in additional sizes.

Families have told us that their children have been excluded from taking part in PE due to incorrect kit. It is important to us that all children fully participate in their education and not miss out simply because of their clothes!

Christmas Jumper Day

Today is Christmas Jumper Day – a new tradition observed by school and pre-school settings across the county.

To support families further, we have once again ran our Christmas jumper swap campaign. Last year we proudly supported nearly 80 families to access a jumper through our Facebook group. This is potentially 80 children that did not miss out on a day at school, just because they didn’t have a festive jumper to wear! It is work like this, and the support of the online community we are building, that helps families in most need of support.

Our future plans

Next year we are hoping to host more events, in a range of different locations. It is important to us that location or transport is not a barrier to access. We hope that taking our events to different locations next year helps us reach even more families. We are also hoping to increase the number of volunteers who help us. This support is crucial in helping us reach as many families as possible.

We are proud to have directly supported over 600 families across Bristol since we began in April 2020. There have also been countless support offered directly by members of our group, which we are really grateful for. We hope to help even more families as we grow and are always looking for new ways we can help.

More

Visit our website, our Facebook group, our Twitter, or our Instagram.

The Natural Curriculum: Inspired by Nature

Today’s guest blog comes from David Millington, creator of the Natural Curriculum

In 2011, on a rainy January afternoon, I had the honour of sharing the stage with my childhood hero – Sir David Attenborough. It was the Association for Science Education’s annual conference. It was held at Reading University. Sir David had been invited to talk about how important it was for children to have a respect and fascination for the natural world. His message to the assembled audience of teachers and lecturers was very clear:

 “Our children will ultimately be the ones that will decide the fate of this planet. If they don’t understand how it works, how will they protect it? And, if they don’t understand the importance of it, why would they want to protect it?”

For my part, I had been invited, as a Bristol-based primary school teacher, to talk about how I had been using natural history film clips in my classroom to inspire learning and to help children become intrigued and excited by the natural world.

Almost 20 years have passed since I first used a natural history clip in my teaching. It was a maths lesson on measurement. It was a Year 4 class. The clip was from Blue Planet and it featured Sir David Attenborough reeling off incredible facts about the size of a mighty blue whale as it breached the surface of the ocean. Wide-eyed and open-mouthed, I can vividly recall the children being captivated by the film footage. I can also remember how eager they were to engage in the whale-related maths challenges that followed. Ever since, I have been using similar clips (from ground-breaking BBC series such as Blue Planet, Life and Planet Earth) across the length and breadth of the primary curriculum. The clips are like little nuggets of gold. The children are immediately gripped by the audio-visual content, their attention is held and their enthusiasm for learning is ignited.

With such a vast and ever-growing digital archive of BBC Natural History film clips to choose from, bringing the outside in and exposing children to the wonders of natural world is now at the fingertips of all educators.

Creating the Natural Curriculum

Determined that teachers utilise the BBC natural history archive to its full potential, I approached the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) with the idea of creating a website. (ERA licences the use of broadcast recordings for non-commercial educational use.) The idea being that the website would combine captivating NH clips with high quality lessons that were linked to the National Curriculum for England and Wales. Initially, animal-themed grammar lessons would feature on the site. It was a project that the Educational Recording Agency were keen to be a part of from the outset, and, through their financial and technical support, our website was launched in March 2020.

Since its launch, the Natural Curriculum’s grammar lessons have reached out to thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of children across the UK. During lockdown periods, where remote learning became the norm, the Natural Curriculum showed young people what our incredible planet had to offer, bringing the outside world into the limited spaces that they were occupying. The wondrous animals and far-reaching landscapes particularly appealed to children living in cities, and to those children who had not had the opportunity to explore much of the natural world beyond their own home.

It is important to note that the Natural Curriculum has been a truly collaborative effort. Many dedicated teachers from Bristol and around the country have either written lessons for the site or have given invaluable feedback on it.

Award-winning

Despite being a relative newcomer on the educational resource scene, the Natural Curriculum has already won several prestigious awards: it was recently named a 4* Winner at the Teach Primary Awards. This followed awards earlier in the year, when the Natural Curriculum won both of its categories at the prestigious 2021 Education Resources Awards ceremony.

As it continues to branch out into different subjects and topic areas, the Natural Curriculum is a beast that will not be tamed. As more animals become threatened with extinction and landscapes become degraded, the Natural Curriculum will show children why they must do their very best to engage with the natural world and take their own steps to safeguard it.

They must not follow the same path that those before them have trodden.

David Millington is the creator of the Natural Curriculum. He is currently working as a Year 3 teacher at Cotham Gardens Primary School in Bristol. The school is in the process of developing an exciting climate change curriculum with the support of a co-operative working group that includes the voices of children, staff, parents and carers, senior leaders and governors. 

If you would like to contact David about the Natural Curriculum, please email naturalcurricculum@era.org.uk

Greening schools, inside and out

On the left is Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy. On the right is Councillor Don Alexander, cabinet member for transport.
Today’s blog is from Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy, and Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet member for Transport,

With young people’s voices playing a key role in tackling the climate emergency, we have made greening schools a top priority for our administration. Their enthusiasm can clearly be seen in Bristol Youth Council’s Environment and Transport group survey results, which recorded over 1,300 responses from young people keen to promote sustainable transport. Listening and developing their ideas is key to setting up future generations for success, and we will continue to work with young people towards a better and more sustainable Bristol.

We were the first city to declare an Ecological Emergency. Since then, we have focused on delivering ambitious green policies and goals, such as setting a ground-breaking goal of becoming carbon neutral and climate resilient city by 2030. We know this is an ambitious challenge and will involve the action of everyone in the city, including our schools.

Our Schools Energy Efficiency Scheme has helped support local schools to cut carbon over the last 3 years. We have invested £1.3 million in 30 schools and this will save a staggering 6,320 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 10 years, equivalent to 1,150 homes’ electricity use for one year. This has complemented our work connecting our schools to Bristol’s Heat Network, a £6.9 million project which provides local businesses, organisations, and housing with heat and power from more sustainable sources.

Oasis Community Learning, and their partner, Eden Sustainable, have done some fantastic work towards our shared goals. Oasis John Williams, their school in Hengrove, has recently installed 408 solar panels on the roof, which will produce free electricity and help support Bristol becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees visiting the newly installed solar panels with the student from Oasis Academy
Visit to Oasis Academy

Equally, it has been gratifying to see the enthusiasm across the city for the Bristol School Streets pilots, which have not only been designed to reduce the volume of traffic around school gates, but also to improve the air quality around schools as we work with communities towards Liveable Neighbourhood schemes.

We work with schools to encourage sustainable lifestyles and reduce vehicle traffic through a range of options. This includes ‘Bikeability‘ training for pupils, setting up park and strides, providing parking buddies to help keep the school entrances clear, providing signage such as ‘Show you care, park elsewhere’ and delivering road safety education.

We know that the challenges that face us in terms of living more sustainably will be there for years to come. Therefore, we want to build long-term, sustainable solutions. That’s why we have also been encouraging schools to get students involved in developing their own ideas for being greener, such as installing smart meters or turning waste into wildlife habitats. One example of this is the Bristol Education Partnership Climate Challenge, which brings together schools with colleges and universities to address the climate crisis.

So as we look to the year ahead for our schools, we would like to thank them for their engagement as we move towards our goal of carbon neutrality. Through changes to the curriculum, travel, and building infrastructure, they are helping us to take significant steps forward as a city – and setting a brilliant example while doing it.

International Youth Day – a voice for young people

Today’s blog is from John Wayman and Alice Towle, Bristol’s Youth Mayors. Both John and Alice also sit on the Bristol Youth Council, representing north and east-central Bristol respectively, and were elected in 2019 through the Bristol Big Youth Vote.

This year’s International Youth Day comes at perhaps a sobering moment when considering the future (and for many the present) of today’s young people. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s damning report concerning humanity’s destructive impact on the climate once again reminds us that this generation seems to have been born into a world on fire, both literally and metaphorically. Indeed, to avert disaster, action needs to be taken on multiple fronts by both current leaders and young people.

The transformation of food systems, the theme of this year’s International Youth Day, certainly constitutes a key aspect of our global response to the climate crisis given the significance of both food production and food transport to global greenhouse gas emissions. It will require the aid and input of young people to ensure we strike a balance between radically transforming food systems to remove their impact on the climate and maintaining food security to avoid disastrous consequences of another kind.

What has the Youth Council been up to?

In a world more globalised than ever before, as both the climate crisis and the covid-19 pandemic have thrown into stark relief, making global connections has been more important than ever before. This need for collaboration is the reason that we started the International Youth Mayors’ Association (IYMA) , a group of young leaders from five countries (and growing) who meet every month to discuss best practice and the various youth issues we face, both similar and different. Past topics have included how to set up youth mayors, youth involvement in environmental politics, and different countries’ political systems. Although we are a relatively new organisation, we hope to expand our membership and grow into a group that can represent both the unity and diversity of young people around the world.

However, although taking action on an international level is important, local action remains crucial. For instance, active travel brings benefits to both the environment and to students’ mental and physical health. That is why the Youth Council’s Environment and Transport group have been running a project centred on encouraging young people to walk and cycle to school. Earlier this year we launched a survey hoping to identify the primary barriers that stop young people from walking or cycling to school. The survey was immensely successful. We had over 1,300 responses from around the city and now we aim to run a series of focus groups to brainstorm solutions to the barriers identified by the survey. Hopefully the views of the city’s young people will be able to meaningfully shape its transport policies.

Although the looming threat of climate change combined with the immense uncertainty of covid-19 may present a bleak reality facing today’s young people, there is still hope for the future. With young people sharing their voices and leaders acting on them, perhaps a fairer and more resilient world can be built.