In the face of a global pandemic and increasing hardship in their communities, ten ICS volunteers came together with VSO to set up the UK's National Youth Engagement Network (NYEN) – an inclusive platform to amplify youth voices and create sustainable change.
From global climate action campaigns, to mental health myth-busting and an employability fortnight, NYEN UK’s activities online have empowered over 450 young people in ten countries.
Choosing to focus on the climate crisis, mental health, and youth employability, NYEN UK has driven positive change in exceptional circumstances. To mention just a few of their achievements, since April 2020 they have:
- Launched a global campaign on climate action to mark International Youth Day. With five online webinars, they reached 49,000 young people digitally, and over 200 directly, in nine countries.
- Advocated for young people’s role in climate action at the COP26 launch, hosted by the UK Prime Minister and Sir David Attenborough.
- Raised awareness of UK AID through a youth-led webinar on the merger of the Government's Department For International Development (DFID) with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), empowering 30 new active citizens.
- Challenged structural injustice and brought peers together through two online ‘watch parties’ to explore racism as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Launched ten Regional Ambassador roles to make sure the network is inclusive and accessible to all.
- Delivered employability skills building sessions in partnership with key experts from Youth Employment UK, Young Women’s Trust, Prince’s Trust, RESULTS UK and Bond.
- Empowered 32 young people, through a training workshop, to have meaningful discussions about mental health in the UK and identify their own wellbeing needs, in partnership with mental health expert, Kooth.
What the members say
“After volunteering on the ICS programme last year, I wanted to continue the great work I was doing in Zambia in my own community and launching a youth network in the UK turned out to be the perfect opportunity to do that!” – Georgie, NYEN UK.
“I joined the NYEN UK core committee because, after coming back from my ICS placement in Bangladesh in 2017, I wanted to continue being an active citizen. But it’s easier to make a difference as part of a team” – Sarah, NYEN UK.
While programmes like ICS may not continue forever, it is clear that young people are still a force for positive change, especially in exceptional and unprecedented circumstances.
NYEN UK is always looking for new members. Whether you have a little or a lot of time, no experience is necessary – you don’t even need to have done any volunteering before!