#generationchange gives us all hope for now and the future


Jonathan Christie reflects on the recent Youth and Philanthropy (YPI) National Event, which was attended by more than 1,000 young people

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26th June 2019 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Given the planning involved in the weeks building up to the event, there’s a curious readjustment to life post-event, but the overarching feeling I have is an incredible sense of pride in what young people from across Scotland have achieved through YPI.

For such events there’s never an opportunity for a dress rehearsal and we place significant responsibility on the young people who are at the very centre of proceedings each year. When the big day arrives we have a one-time opportunity to connect an array of beautiful jigsaw pieces together into a coherent, powerful story and, without fail, our young people step up to deliver a stunning representation of our programme.

I was overawed by the young people who stood on stage to share aspects of their YPI experience. Their courage, maturity and confidence is something in which I take a great deal of personal and professional pride.

As is always the case with a programme of such scale we can only share a snapshot of what has transpired across the academic year. Here we had a select group of empowered young people advocating with conviction and charisma on behalf of the social issues they care most passionately about, whether that be period poverty, mental health, equality or social isolation.

Jonathan Christie

Jonathan Christie

A key part of YPI is the funding which is channelled to grassroots, social services charities. In the region of £750,000 was contributed to Scotland’s third sector this academic year, supporting causes championed by young people the length and breadth of the country. But what we are keen for young people to recognise, and they do, is that YPI is about far more than just winning their school final and securing a cheque. It is about understanding the world we live in and the role young people can play in raising awareness of societal issues and impacting change.

Throughout proceedings we spoke about #generationchange and our belief that young people in Scotland can challenge local, national and international issues and have the ability and opportunity now to lead the change we all want to see. This was evident though powerful spoken input that would not have been out of place at a Ted Talk, alongside moments of creativity, laughter and high emotion. Our highest ambition is that YPI acts as a gateway towards sustained, committed youth social action and what came across loudly from all our young people in the auditorium was a ‘call to arms’ to take what they’ve done through YPI to the next level.  Our guest speakers Amal Azzudin and Alan Mahon also provided invaluable food for thought.   

Our annual event brings into stark focus the many stakeholders that have contributed to the growth, development and success of YPI over recent years – our funding partners, local authority colleagues, peer organisations, third sector bodies, and of course our schools who fully embrace the programme. As attention turns to the new academic year, our minds focus on the significant opportunities that exist for programme embedding, improvement and broader partnership working which has been integral to the success of YPI to date.

Our long-term commitment to YPI and Scotland’s young people has been an investment in both the present and future. This past year YPI was completed in almost 250 schools involving more than 30,000 young people. This figure will increase once again in 2019/20. Every year we reflect on progress made, lessons learned and ask ourselves the question what is next. Our ambition only continues to grow alongside the programme’s reach. #generationchange gives us all real hope about how the society of today can be nurtured and the far-reaching role young people will play in creating the civil society of the future.

Jonathan Christie is deputy UK director at The Wood Foundation