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YSA History

#iwill and where did it all start? 

2013 #iwill is announced (microphone)
youth social action Is introduced to 50 partners and 50 young people
#iwill bringing depth, diversity and scale across the UK.
Now, #iwill is a movement, funded by the #iwillFund, comprised of over 1000 organisations and 700 young #iwill
Ambassadors & Champions from across the UK are united in shared vision to make a positive difference on the issues that matter!
Community, Inclusion & Diversity, Environment, Health and Wellbeing

What is the #iwill Fund? 

The #iwill Fund is an England-wide joint investment. The original funding involved bringing together £40 million in funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and The National Lottery Community Fund to create a central investment pot. In early 2020 DCMS and TNLCF announced further funding of approximately £9.3m in the #iwill Fund. 


Ormiston Trust becomes a match funder and introduces the #iwill campaign to one of its network partners, Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT).


In 2018, OAT secured £2 million. Across the Trust of over 35,000 pupils, the OAT network of schools supported the aims of the #iwill campaign to make meaningful social action a part of everyday life.

“The campaign has helped unlock our potential and has given us the opportunity to do something really special for the school.”

Tomi – Year 10

Our first beginnings with #iwill

Through the funding received from the #iwill Fund and Ormiston Trust, OAT was able to offer their academies a substantial amount to set up a sustainable YSA project, with the aim to influence and leave a lasting positive change to their school and wider communities.


Projects soon started to pop up in OAT academies, from community work with vulnerable adults, environmental work through beach cleaning and a big focus on children’s mental health, as well as diversity and inclusion.

A small taster of OAT’s #iwill projects…

In Stoke-on-Trent, Ormiston Horizon Academy established a purpose built Gardening School. Pupils have grown their allotment skills, by tending to produce that they eventually harvest and use in Food Technology lessons, as well as gifting to local Food Banks and vulnerable families in their local community.

They have also been able to use the space to discuss climate issues and efforts they could contribute to improving Eco awareness. They have crafted items like bug hotels, water butt systems and food for winter wildlife. This area is now also being used as a wellbeing breakout area for vulnerable pupils, making their project accessible to the whole school community.

Ormiston Meadows Academy in Peterborough formed a friendship with their neighbours, Lapwing Extra Care Facility during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Following social distancing rules, the pupils sang carols in their car park and were able to bring the residents joy, at a time when visitors were not allowed.

 The pupils have now developed an Eco garden, with their first step to grow sunflowers that were gifted to the residents to carry on nurturing. The residents are even embroidering hi-vis jackets that pupils will wear when spreading kindness in their community. Their friendship has further developed into regular letter writing, bird watching tips and with residents visiting the garden to provide gardening tips.

By the coast in Great Yarmouth, Flegg High, an Ormiston Academy, wanted to focus on their immediate community, to try and tackle bullying for all their Flegg family. Taking over a disused room, they transformed the space into a HUB for all pupils to use.

A team of pupils received training and guidance to qualify them as Anti-bullying Ambassadors. The ambassadors have vital roles in the running of the HUB, signposting across the academy and reporting low-level bullying to staff.

In Bilston in the West Midlands, Ormiston SWB Academy wanted to make a lasting effect on their surrounding communities. Noticing an area of dilapidated green land in a central point of Bilston, the pupils decided to clear the space, so they could develop a touring garden.

 Upcycling items such as plastic bottles and old car tyres to make planters they transformed the space into a colourful oasis. They even entered the respected community flower competition Bilston in Bloom and after gaining recognition, their garden has been displayed at a local hospital and elderly care home.

Another academy in the West Midlands, Wodensborough Ormiston Academy , wanted a project that would bring the least engaged pupils together to make a positive change in their school and the wider community. 

The pupils developed a school allotment, Watch WOA Grow, nurturing vegetables and herbs. Herbs were gifted to the elderly in the community along with wellbeing letters. The pupils also darned together blankets for the homeless to support a local church group.

What is High Quality Social Action?

High quality youth social action is led by YOU. It’s challenging. It creates social impact. It allows you to SEE the real value its added. It leads to other opportunities.

The 10 underlying fundamentals of Youth Social Action (YSA) to maximise impact and sustain practice in schools


YSA programmes fully supported by senior leadership who ensure sufficient resources are in place

School leaders will clarify the purpose of Youth Social Action in their setting, inspire and engage staff and students, and ensure suitable and sufficient staff and financial resources are in place.


Programmes are sustained and students have opportunities to progress on to new initiatives

YSA should become embedded in school culture and practices with opportunities available for students to progress onto new projects within or outside school settings.


Students build skills and take on different roles

Students are taught key skills (i.e. teamwork, communication etc) to deliver a YSA programme effectively. Throughout a programme they also take on different roles within a team (i.e. leader, marketer, communication etc) to enhance their experience and learning.


Reflection and evidence of impact

YSA can impact on the young person, the school, the local com- munity or more widely. School staff will want proof of difference made to know they are making a difference, and to help adapt and refine future practices.. Students will also be given time throughout engagement to reflect at each stage on what they have learnt and how they plan to engage in the future.


Action involves effort and challenge

Young people need to put in effort and be given support to over- come any challenges associated with addressing a cause


Relevant stakeholders are engaged

Students should engage with others who have already addressed a similar cause (e.g. local charities, residents etc), have sufficient school resources in place (i.e. staffing), and also seek to generate additional income from other sources


Action is meaningful and tends to be local and visible

Young people should lead on and be encouraged to address a cause which is meaningful to them and others. Often, though not always, this will result in addressing a local cause which allows young people to see the difference they are making.


Facilitated by well supported, trained and passionate staff

Staff, during lessons and throughout the school day, should provide opportunities for young people to discuss, critically reflect on, research and plan their YSA project. YSA can become a context for learning in the curriculum.


Facilitated by well supported, trained and passionate staff

School staff will need to be ‘supported” and given the key tools to deliver effective YSA (i.e. training, guides, templates etc).


Facilitated by well supported, trained and passionate staff

School staff will need to be ‘supported” and given the key tools to deliver effective YSA (i.e. training, guides, templates etc).

Did you know?

It’s believed that the higher the quality of social action the more likely the causes will benefit everyone involved.
Those who get involved as early as the junior section at Primary Schools are more likely to grow a rich understanding of their emotional and social health while also having vital opportunities in making sustainable changes in their communities.

“I am incredibly proud of the work I have completed here with the help of my friends.”


Finley – Year 4

Those who first get involved in service under the age of 10 are:

More than twice as likely to form a habit of service than if they start aged 16–18 years.

More likely to be involved in a wider range of service activities and to participate in them more frequently.

More likely to identify themselves more closely with moral and civic values such as open-mindedness, compassion and hope.

Part of the OAT Youth Social Action campaign #iwill, they committed to evidencing the rich benefits of YSA on young people, staff and wider communities.

Please take a look at their final report in partnership with The Centre for Education and Youth

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