Pat Lewis appointed Ambassador for Youth Social Action for charity Volunteering Matters

Volunteering Matters

Source One Consulting Chairman, Pat Lewis, has been asked to be an Ambassador for Youth Social Action for the UK wide charity Volunteering Matters. Pat tell us all about it….

I am so proud to have been asked. The charity and its projects, most notably for me the WASSUP, We Are Patrick and the Grandmentors Projects are very close to my heart.

I believe passionately that our young adults should be given the opportunities they deserve, encouraged to have ambitions and dreams, and then given the support and the confidence to help achieve them.

Power to make change happen

At Volunteering Matters we listen to young people enabling them to solve the issues most important to them and their local communities. We give them the power to make change happen and we ensure their voice is heard.

We know this youth social action approach works; it creates confidence and develops skills that open up fresh opportunities for future employment, training or education to boost local economies and help communities thrive. It creates stronger social cohesion, developing a new generation of leaders that want to and can create stronger communities and a better society for all.

In Ipswich since 2016, we have operated two multi award winning youth social action projects, built and designed by young people from the town using our Youth Social Action methodology of engagement… WASSUP (Women Against Sexual Exploitation and Violence Speak Up) and We Are Patrick.

WASSUP and We Are Patrick

WASSUP and We Are Patrick are youth social action projects supported by Volunteering Matters and delivered by young people in Ipswich, with three principle aims:

  • Educate peers on issues of sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, honour-based violence and gang grooming
  • Lobby for changes to social policy and practice on these issues promoting young people’s voice
  • Raise awareness in the wider community

WASSUP toolkit

The WASSUP group has collectively built a toolkit, endorsed by Suffolk Safeguarding Board, which it delivers in schools across Ipswich.

The sessions are based on a fictional character called Astra and use film, spoken verse, imagery and flashcards the group have created to journey young people though various decision-making scenarios based on Astra’s life. Astra is real; she is made up of composite parts of the group’s life.

The Astra toolkit informs young people of the risks and impact of their decisions and addresses difficult issues with authenticity of young people’s insights and knowledge.

The group has delivered the toolkit to 4000 year 5/6 and 9/10 young people themselves across Ipswich. It has also delivered a number of community campaigns, interviewed prominent MPs, submitted evidence to Parliament and has been recognised at Buckingham Palace for their work. In 2018, they were voted National Volunteer Team of the Year – 2018 in the Third Sector Awards

Boys playing a role change – We are Patrick

As this was developed, young males who had experienced the toolkit, recognized that boys needed to play a role in this change too. As a result, ‘We are Patrick’ was born as a concept.

Patrick is Astra’s brother. We Are Patrick has used the WASSUP methodology to encourage boys 12-18 across Ipswich to build Patrick’s toolkit addressing the issues that Patrick faces as a 12 year-old boy living in the same home. The group of 30 boys have created an interactive toolkit using film, media and spoken verse that covers issues of exploitation, gang grooming and serious violence through their eyes and experiences.

The group will deliver the toolkit to approx. 800 young men across Ipswich in the coming months. The group also provides peer support for boys/young men affected by these issues via our workshops, will lead on community awareness raising campaigns and also on our lobbying policy and decision makers on service and practice in relation to these issues.

What outcomes has it also delivered for the volunteers?

Developing and delivering WASSUP and I Am Patrick has a powerful impact on the volunteers themselves, most of whom have experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences. Over 100 young people involved in development of Astra, Patrick and the toolkit. All have

  • Increased in confidence, to the point they can now present publicly
  • Developed new creative skills
  • Helped use the process to overcome their own trauma.
  • Become adept public speakers – from delivering in a school, to presenting in front of a national audience of 400 people.
  • Given hundreds of hours of their time to contribute positively to their community
  • Led to all engaging fully in employment, education or training, with 20% in Higher Education

Broader impacts of the Programmes

The energy and commitment of the young volunteers is creating impact beyond the programmes themselves.

  • WASSUP Toolkit has been endorsed by the Suffolk Safeguarding Board CPD, and written into the Suffolk CSE plan
  • Created the “Fixers” film for the DCMS
  • Involved in the formation of a panel to recruit the Suffolk Head of Safeguarding, lobbied the Director of the DfE for social Action and interviewed Jess Phillips for the BBC
  • Submitted evidence to Parliamentary Committees and led a number of public campaigns online for International Women’s Day, White Ribbon Day
  • Delivered keynote session to 600 delegates at Health and Wellbeing Conference and delivered toolkit to 300 professionals across Social Care and Police
  • Visited House of Commons for British Red Cross Humanitarian Award
  • One young person has become a UK #iwill Ambassador

Want to know more?

As you can see, these projects are making a real difference to young people in our community… impact and success. I am delighted to be able to be an Ambassador and would love to hear from you if you wish to know more or get involved.