Young people making a difference in Dorset communities with the help of #iwill funding

The iwill funding programme at Dorset Community Foundation is part of a national campaign to make Social Action part of the lives of young people in the UK; increasing their involvement in campaigning, fundraising and volunteering. For the last two years, we have been making grants to local community groups and charities who provide such opportunities for young people in Dorset.

Ellie Maguire 8th May 2019

The projects we have supported illustrate that young people want to get involved in their wider community and contribute their time and energy to the causes that matter to them.

Young people making a difference in Dorset communities with the help of #iwill funding

I have been hugely impressed at the efforts made by local organisations to allow young people to take the lead in delivering projects – guiding but not dictating how they can showcase their unique abilities in meaningful social action activities to make a difference where they live. The young volunteers develop important life skills such as active listening, effective planning, problem solving, negotiation, budgeting and teamwork. These experiences and skills improve self-confidence and aspirations, enhance CVs and increase employability. Fantastic!

I have written this blog to congratulate all of the successfully funded organisations working hard to provide such engaging and rewarding opportunities for our young people. Equal congratulations to all of the young volunteers that the funding has supported – please continue to inspire yourselves and others to make a meaningful contribution in your local community. Here are four of the 16 projects we have supported.

B-Side Multimedia Arts Festival run a multimedia arts festival in Portland. They supported a group of young people to produce the first WHY? Festival in Dorset. (WHY stands for ‘What’s Happening for the Young’.) The festival launched at The Southbank Centre in 2014 and is inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The young volunteers were supported by professionals but developed their own vision for the festival by hosting consultations with other young people in the area to find out what issues were important to them and could be meaningfully explored at the festival. The 3 day event included performances and workshops such as ‘We Could be Heroes’ with Bootworks Theatre & Budmouth College, Youth Music with B-Sharp, Fake News discussions, and ‘Trigger Warning’ responding to British media misrepresentations of the lives of immigrants.

Diverse City run a performing arts ensemble called ‘Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists’, based at Poole Lighthouse. The young members have been developing small activism events in their community to tackle the stigma of disability, to support the charity and to generate an appetite for more integrated creative opportunities for young disabled people. I went to see their new production ‘Till We Win’ at The Lighthouse studio in April; a piece devised by the young members that explores how the local community connects with (or ignores) others and how those who may be ‘different’ are perceived.

Dorset Mind are training and supporting pupils in local schools to become Mental Health Ambassadors, so that peers who may be struggling have a trusted mentor to provide advice & support, and signpost them to services that can help. Training includes how to build effective relationships with mentees, promoting change in others, lifestyle and its effects, confidentiality, self care and safeguarding. The young Ambassadors choose how best to implement the scheme such as drops ins, wellbeing noticeboards, 1:1 mentoring or assemblies. The programme is creating stronger peer networks and is improving attendance and behaviour within participating schools.

Dorset Rape Crisis recruited a team of young volunteers to help them develop their #ITSNOTOK campaign, raising awareness of relationship and consent issues for young people. The volunteers helped to develop the charities social media presence, increasing the charities use of Instagram to reach a young audience and running an online survey on issues around consent. The young volunteers also worked with a Co-ordinator to plan outreach events where they could engage face to face with other young people and the wider public. The group took part in Mental Health awareness day and attended Bestival and Bourne Free festivals, taking their idea of ‘The Consent Tent’ to explore what consent means to young people.

This year we have been offered the opportunity to match, pound for pound, any donations to the iwill fund, so if you might be interested in supporting such projects please get in touch with our Development Director Grant Robson at or on 01202 670815.

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