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1,000 young people make it happen

26 June 2013

A youth project shaped by young people for the benefit of young people is celebrating a hugely successful first year. In this guest blog, Helena Partnership‘s Allison Lewis explains how the group’s Make it Happen project has had a positive impact in the local community of St Helens. Buoyed by the positive response of local people, all involved are looking forward to a brighter future.

DJ workshop

An aspiring DJ gets tips from the top at a Make It Happen workshop

Open a newspaper or turn on the TV and the chances are you’ll find a story linking young people with ‘hoodies’, ‘ASBOs’ and a whole lot worse.  But is this really a fair representation? Here in St Helens, Merseyside, there’s a group of 11 to 15-year-olds who beg to differ – and they’re leading the revolution which is set to prove those headlines wrong.

In late 2011, re:new St Helens – a neighbourhood management initiative led by housing association Helena Partnerships –  successfully bid for £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to deliver the Make It Happen project.

The key aims were to reduce anti-social behavior and help young people in four of the town’s most deprived areas to boost their skills and confidence through taking part in diversionary activities and voluntary work. The difference between this and past campaigns would be simple: all of these activities would be chosen and evaluated by young people themselves.

Fast-forward to June 2013 and the Make It Happen Young People’s Steering Group is really making a name for itself. Last month, they were highly-commended at a regional awards ceremony which recognises the achievements of outstanding young people across the North West.

Make It Happen magic ingredients

Our long-standing partnerships with the local authority, police, fire service and youth organisations provided the perfect foundation for the Make It Happen project. We used these relationships to recruit a Partners’ Steering Group and build a team of lively young people who offer a true representation of their areas to help us shape the project.

Young people dancing

Young people get moving at a Make It Happen street dance taster session

The Young People’s Steering Group has bonded through informal fortnightly meetings and given up their free time to attend training and team-building events.

They’ve put their new skills into practice, identifying their own direction and priorities, working towards the formal constitution of their group and widening their reach and scope of activity by seeking external funding.

The future’s bright

Looking ahead, the Young People’s Steering Group plans to apply for additional funding and take the lead on commissioning and evaluating activities. They hope to increase the variety of activities available and introduce projects tackling anti-social behavior and arson.

On a wider level, we hope to recruit more adult volunteers, increase the scope of their training and build on the use of social media as a tool to promote events.

The project couldn’t have a better name as our volunteers are all about action. The sky’s the limit as they continue working together to Make It Happen!

Make It Happen first year highlights

•    1,000 young people took part in activities and taster sessions including dance, sport, drama, cookery, gardening and much more;

•    30 adult volunteers were recruited and gave more than 330 hours of their time;

•    258 young people volunteered as part of the project;

•    70 young people attended a Christmas event planned and organised entirely by the Young People’s Steering Group;

•    £44,000 was allocated to activity providers chosen by the Young People’s Steering Group;

•    Ant-social behavior fell by up to 77% in re:new areas, in part linked to the increase in free diversionary activities.

Allison Lewis is Make it Happen Project Officer

What do you think of Allison’s guest blog? Are you working with a local project engaging with young people? Leave your comments below or join the conversation on Twitter using #biglf

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 26 June 2013 2:23 pm

    Dear Allison

    What a goodidea for a project for BIG. Could you tell us which granst scheme you applied to?

    Many thanks

    Jonathan Ashton

    • Allison Lewis permalink
      26 June 2013 3:41 pm

      Hi John

      Thanks for your comment. The project is funded through Reaching Communities.



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