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Youth panel brings #cando attitude to community funding

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Skills, Socio-economic
Ashleigh Williamson, 3rd Year Project Apprentice

This summer we announced our first major investment under our newly branded social impact programme – social impact, multiplied or SiX.

Transforming West Cumbria aims to tackle some of West Cumbria’s most deep rooted social and economic problems.

The programme will focus on family wellbeing, financial education, community activism, and inspiring young people.

One of the 6 Transforming West Cumbria programmes, Cando, seeks to raise young people’s aspirations and build their confidence by providing grants which enables them to bring to life their ideas for addressing issues that they feel are important within their local communities.

Putting young people at the heart of the process

Possibly the most exciting part of the programme for me is that the decisions on which projects will receive funding are made by a Youth Advisory Panel made up of people ages between 16 and 25 from across West Cumbria.

As a third-year project management apprentice at Sellafield I'm nearing the end of my training with only 2 placements left to complete whilst starting my final year at university.

Throughout the apprenticeship, I have rotated placements every 6 months in order to gain a robust understanding of various disciplines such as cost, planning, risk and project management.

I joined the social impact team at the beginning of September and will stay within the team to February 2021.

Whilst being within the social impact team, I have had the opportunity to speak to very influential external stakeholders which I have not had the experience to do in as much depth prior to joining the team.

I believe that being within social impact, I will gain invaluable experience and gain a better understanding of the importance of social impact to be embedded into projects, which I will be able to effectively and proactively manage in projects in my career.

It was comforting to know that the young people within the community have an opportunity to express their views on future projects and have the ultimate power on whether the projects receive funding or not.

This ensures that community projects being delivered are wanted and needed by the local community and are more likely to realise the benefits stated in the applications which will bring more value to the area.

The panel has already met

I attended the first panel meeting on Wednesday 23 September. As is increasingly normal in 2020, the panel was hybrid with some member of the panel in one room together and the other members joining them via Zoom.

I joined this panel due to the invaluable input I had on upcoming projects which are to be delivered into the local community.

I wasn’t aware such panels existed prior to joining the social impact team so I was intrigued to know what happened and the process grants had to go through prior to being approved.

It was interesting to see various views on each application and how we all compromised on each application to derive a final outcome.

As you might expect, each project put forward for funding was different. But all of them had something in common – a desire to upskill people in the local area, decrease the unemployment rate and to increase economic growth and development in West Cumbria.

One project which really stood out for me was aimed at helping recovering alcoholics and giving them an opportunity to educate the youth on alcoholism with the aim to reduce under age drinking within the area.

A unique opportunity for me

Completing my apprenticeship at Sellafield Ltd hasn’t just given me the work experience I need alongside my formal training, it has given me unique opportunities like this.

To be involved in and have a say on how public money is distributed within the local area is a real privilege.

I was impressed by my panel colleagues. Everyone brought their own views and perspectives, but we were able to come together to reach a final decision.

Projects coming to a community near you soon

It is a very exciting time as there are many new projects to be delivered near you which will all add huge benefits to you as well as the local area.

I'm excited to see the next round of applications to be presented at the next panel in December.

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