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Youth Advisory Board

19 July 2017: posted by BigChange

We are a social impact accelerator, with a mission to transform the way we support young people across the UK. However, we realise that it is impossible to do this without actually listening to, and engaging with young people – so last year we decided to do just that. We set up the Big Change Youth Advisory Board. This is a group of young Big Changers, who we turn to advise us on our ambitions, work and impact.


Last month, we held our Second Annual Meeting. Taking over the boardroom at Virgin, we brought together a group of young people, who have either participated in projects Big Change have supported, or are engaged social activists. There were some old faces from past projects including Reclaim, the Key and NCS, and some new faces from projects we have supported this year like City Year. This was an amazing, diverse and talented group of change-makers, who all have the positivity and passion to change the world, and more importantly the drive to take action to do so.

The purpose of this meeting was to discuss what it really means to Thrive in Life, Not Just Exams. In particular, we wanted to discuss a research paper we are soon to publish in association with DEMOS entitled ‘Re-Defining Success.’ We started off the morning with some probing questions; ‘Why do young people want to be successful?’, ‘Who do we think is successful?’ and ‘How do we define success in education?’They all concluded that success was a relatively difficult concept to define, and often quite narrowly understood. However, there was also a genuine consensus around the need to widen the definition of success in education, beyond that currently defined by exams. As one of our members said:

“Success is breaking outside the box. We are categorised like machines to learn information and pass exams. A successful persons broadens their understanding and learning because they want to. ” 

We then moved the conversation onwards to ‘What does it mean to thrive in life?’ The breadth and positivity around this discussion was phenomenal, as we collectively realised that young people did not only want to be successful in the classroom, but fulfilled, have purpose and  have the opportunity to give something back to society!

In the afternoon, we asked the Youth Advisory members how the projects they had been involved in, like NCS and City Year, had helped them to thrive in life. It was great to see the impact Big Change investment had had on people’s lives – giving young people the opportunity to grow, develop and challenge themselves through some amazing projects.

Next Steps… it was amazing to convene the young leaders together in a place of discussion, to listen to their voices and and let them lead the way in thinking of innovative ways to deal with the challenges they are currently facing. We can’t wait for the next Youth Advisory Board meeting and to have them even more involved in Big Change in the future!