Government Spotlight on Ethnic Youngsters’ Work to Transform Communities

Government Spotlight on Ethnic Youngsters

Ethnic youngsters from a pioneering project which has helped tackle social cohesion, homelessness and deprivation have been invited to London to show the government how they are uniting communities.
The students from Thomas Whitham sixth form, Burnley, are part of a delegation heading to the House of Commons on Tuesday after the success of the ground-breaking initiative, which has brought together children from different religions and backgrounds to help local people and improve their life chances.

Youngsters at the summit, which will be attended by Justice Minister Jack Straw and Schools Minister Vernon Coaker have worked together with student volunteers to improve their local communities as part of the Voltage project, run by the award-winning Lancaster University Volunteering Unit (LUVU).
The pioneering initiative encourages youngsters, helped by student volunteers, to set up social enterprises, aiming to make a real difference to their communities and is the first of its kind in the country.
The scheme was praised by Prime Minister Gordon Brown for ‘inspiring the students of tomorrow’ when volunteers visited 10 Downing Street earlier this year.
Students identified a need in their school or community and thought about how they could use their skills and passions to create a business that would meet the need and make a difference.
They visited Lancaster University to create a marketing campaign for their social enterprise, which they operated for four weeks.
The Go Green team from Thomas Whitham sixth form, which was built to help community cohesion in an area battling to counter the BNP, was chosen to be part of the delegation after winning the project’s Outstanding Enterprise award for, among other things, launching and promoting a recycling scheme.
Around £2,000 in profit from the Burnley scheme is being invested into the community through a variety of groups including Children in Need and Pendleside Hospice.
Ben Matthews, LUVU director, said: “We believe we are delivering a social enterprise project like no other in the country and we are thrilled and honoured that the government wants to learn more about what we are doing.

“Young people such as those from Thomas Whitham have the skill and vision to make a difference in their communities. Voltage gives them the help and experience they need to turn their ideas into reality.”

LUVU aims to have 800 students a year working and making a difference to local communities by 2012. Voltage will play a key role in that vision.

LUVU’s work has been recognised at a national level. This year it was named Best Work Experience Provider – Charitable Sector at the National Council for Work Experience Awards.

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