The problem

Leadership inequality in the UK is undeniable. There are not enough leaders from working class backgrounds.

Working class young people face constant obvious and often invisible barriers to achieving their leadership potential and few make it to the top. RECLAIM says it does not make ethical or economic sense to waste the talent of such a large section of the population.

RECLAIM’s goal is to end leadership inequality within a generation.

They aim to nurture and galvanise the talent of young people aged 12-15 who are natural leaders at risk of failing to reach their potential. They believe that children from all communities must be represented at all levels and in all sectors of society as adults, and that we need more pioneers who inspire others to achieve.

Over 850 young people have worked with the project from across the region.

Work in action

RECLAIM has successfully worked with young people from marginalised communities for a number of years. Their flagship programme, LEAD identifies young leaders and helps them develop their skills so that they go on and engage their local community or find work.

Big Change is working with RECLAIM to build on their experience and extend their impact to national scale through the Fairer Futures campaign. This programme has set out to bridge the gap that exists between young natural leaders from working class backgrounds and business, media, politics and education.

The Big Changers

Ruth Ibegbuna, RECLAIM Founder and CEO

Ruth Ibegbuna is the founder and CEO of RECLAIM, a multi-award winning social action and youth leadership programme with a focus on working class young people being seen, being heard and leading change. RECLAIM supports young people across Greater Manchester from working class communities. The project has worked with over 850 young people from across the region.

Ruth began developing the RECLAIM project in 2007 out of her frustration at seeing so much wasted potential in young people; often written off due to their postcodes or through appallingly low expectations of their outcomes. Her book, ‘On Youth’, showcases the stories of five RECLAIM Alumni.


We’re proud to have backed RECLAIM to launch and deliver their Fairer Futures campaign. Since being funded by big change, they have launched 8 new youth led campaigns

Their work has been recognized in the Guardian, being awarded ‘Most Effective Youth Voice or Campaign’ in 2019 and partnering with international organisation Ashoka Young Changemakers among others. While the data and recognition speak for themselves, teachers and parents who have been impacted by RECLAIM’s work confirm the transformative impact of RECLAIM: 

“Through Reclaim, the girls have been empowered to make their voices heard and highlight issues that are important to them.  They have been given responsibility and shown trust which has built confidence and self-belief. The girls have gained a greater understanding of their own personal strengths and how to put their skills into practice to work as an effective team.” – Teacher, All Hallows RC Business, Enterprise & Sports College  

“[My daughter has] become more aware of the wider world, equality and inequality. The issues people face – men, women, poverty, power. It’s a great all-round education – but, more importantly, to give our children the tools to make change and be aware of what they can achieve!” 

Parent of participant, Moss Side Girls