The grant awarded was to enable the organisation to deliver the Bedford and Luton Leadership Programme 2018-19. Over nine months, 27 sessions/events were delivered in each location, and participants attended a two-day Leadership Retreat. Sessions were hosted by senior leaders from public, private and not-for-profit sectors; repeated annually. There are at least 60 stakeholders that volunteer on the programme, including speakers, mentors, coaches and alumni from previous Leadership Programmes.

The programme encourages action-learning through the design and delivery of Social Action Campaigns (SACs), on topics that matter to young people. The Leadership Programme also includes a Dragon’s Den, where young people pitch their SAC to a room of senior leaders, and the top 3 campaigns win financial rewards to help their campaign grow. The programme not only creates more confident, knowledgeable young leaders but also contributes to a stronger, empowered community.

Our social action campaign is focused on addressing the lack of opportunities for underrepresented young people We’re running a survey as part of our social action to understand if young people in Bedfordshire feel confident to achieve their potential, or whether they feel limited by the challenges they face. Working on this survey has massively helped with my confidence. I have found it really nice to be in a room of people who look like me and care about the same things as me, as often in the Arts, where I work, people are white and middle class. It has also been really nice to go to places on the programme which are not normally accessible, such as the police HQ. Being on the programme has really made me think about areas and places I had previously seen as not for me and how I can challenge that.

“For me, the best part of the programme is the campaigns and social action element. Meeting a variety of different people and working in a team with them has been special. The ability to practice and make mistakes – you don’t get to do this elsewhere and it feels so empowering to be trusted and allowed to learn.”

Maya, 2018/19 Leadership Programme Participant