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2016: A Year in Review

16 December 2016: posted by BigChange

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2016 has been yet another exciting year in the little history of Big Change. We brought four new projects partners on board, hosted some exciting events, and ran the Virgin STRIVE Challenge which took us from the Matterhorn to Mount Etna. Here are some of the best and biggest highlights of our year.

@ Big Change HQ

A lot went down in HQ this year, including our first ever Big Change learning day to ring in the new year.  One of our most important values at Big Change is to always be learning and collaborating with people and organisations around us – so this was a great way to kick off the year.

Early in January, we invited a number of experts in education, psychology, charity and more to sit down with our team and founders and discuss some of the most exciting developments and trends in these areas. This was a fantastic way to make sure we had a finger on the pulse, and that we know how we could have the biggest impact when it came time to select to projects for our portfolio.

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Once we’d done our research, we were able to confidently select the projects that we wanted to support in 2016 to help support young people in the UK – though it wasn’t an easy decision. After much deliberation, we decided to partner with City Year UK and How to Thrive, as well as take on two research and scoping projects in the areas of Teacher Wellbeing, and Redefining Success for the 21st Century.

We also recruited the Big Change Youth Advisory Board – a group of 8 ridiculously awesome young people to advise us on where they think younger generations need more support. In our inaugural meeting, we talked about what influences them in their environments, where they feel there are gaps in the system, and how they want to get involved and help solve these problems. They were a wonderfully accomplished and passionate bunch, and we’re looking forward to our next meeting in the new year.

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We also wrote the Big Change Manifesto, which is our big vision for change.  You can check it out here.

Out in the world!

We kicked off the month of March with yet another phenomenal We DAY UK at Wembley Stadium. On the day, Sam, Holly, Bea and Karl took to the stage to thank 12,000 passionate young change-makers for their commitment to social, environmental, and humanitarian efforts, and Karl performed his epic Big Change poem that you can listen to here.

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We also hosted our second Big Change Impact Event, where some of our project partners updated our community of donors, entrepreneurs, STRIVERs, supporters and more on their progress. This year, we heard from Ruth Ibegbuna from Reclaim and Ed Fidoe from Voice 21. We were also inspired by two of our youth board members, as well as two serial STRIVERS, Lara Milward and Justin Packshaw. It was a great opportunity to bring out community together and be reminded of the power of the collective in tackling the biggest issues of our time.

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In case you haven’t heard, we also hosted the third official Virgin STRIVE Challenge! This past September a core team of 25 people, joined by 250 STRIVERs along the way travelled from the base of the Matterhorn to Mount Etna – a distance well over 2,000 kilometres with an accumulative elevation higher than twice the height of Everest. Our STRIVERs raised in incredible £1.25 million (and counting!) for our work, which we hope made all the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile!

Project News

If it isn’t exciting enough that we’ve brought four new projects into our portfolio, a few of our partners have seen some wonderful successes of their own.

Early in 2016, Frontline secured multi-million-pound investment from the government to roll out their programme across the UK. It feels like just yesterday that it was 2013, they were just a team of three and we invested £215,000 to help them run their pilot. We couldn’t be more thrilled that they have made a huge leap towards becoming a part of the system and bringing top quality care to the country’s most vulnerable children – a wonderful example of how our model works to bring about large-scale change. Check out their video here.

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NCS also launched their opportunities Hub that we helped to find and develop – an online community where NCS graduates can find volunteer positions to continue giving back to their communities.

Voice 21 published “The state of speaking in our schools; a comprehensive report on the status of speaking and communication skills amongst our schools. The publishing of this report is a huge step in Voice 21’s mission to raise the profile of Oracy across the UK, and to provide all young people with the opportunity to find their voice.

Up in Manchester, Reclaim held a number of successful and far-reaching social media campaigns helping young people to reclaim their place as leaders in our society. With our help, hey also published the Fairer Futures report.  Read the report here.

We also wrote and published our emergent narrative on Teacher Wellbeing – a working document on our research into the area so far. You can read more here.

Heading into 2016, we can’t wait to continue our work with City Year UK and How to Thrive, and to continue our exciting research in the area of redefining developmental success in the 21st century.

And finally … thank you!

2016 has been a big year for us, and none of it would have been possible without the support of our awesome community. A huge thanks to you our donors, STRIVERs, and community members for helping us to create Big Change.

Here’s to an even bigger and better 2017!


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