Year Here is a new type of gap year opportunity for ambitious and entrepreneurial young people. We challenge school leavers to a year of tackling social issues in their own backyard. We aim to stimulate and nurture a new generation of young people who are not only fired up about social issues but also have the skills, insight and network to turn their passions into real social change.
Our idea is an ambitious one. Rather than spending a year travelling overseas or working in a dead-end job, we want to inspire high-achieving young people to consider social entrepreneurship as a way of achieving their ambitions while changing society for the better.
Young people will apply under a specific theme (e.g. ‘the ageing population’ or ‘social mobility’) and the most creative and entrepreneurial will be selected to become Year Here fellows. Fellows will undertake entrepreneurial work placements with charities and social enterprise; take part in training sessions to build up a range of relevant skills (from business planning to social impact measurement); and be immersed in residential ‘discovery weekends’ focussed on understanding specific social issues. Fellows will live together in shared accommodation and be paid a small stipend throughout the year to cover their expenses.
Year Here has already gained public attention, winning the Ideas for London competition and being featured in the Evening Standard twice and on BBC London News. We plan to launch with 12 young people in January 2013 and scale rapidly thereafter.
In 2001, I took a gap year teaching at a school in South Africa. Like many other idealistic British 18-year-olds, I wanted to be part of the fight against poverty. Having grown disillusioned with international development and now working on social issues in Britain, I wonder why, in the pursuit of a purpose for my life, I was drawn so far away from home. At the Young Foundation (my employer since 2008), I worked on the social venture funding programme Learning Launchpad, served as a trustee of the youth innovation consultancy, Space Unlimited, and co-wrote Growing Social Ventures (featured on the front page of the Financial Times). I was also part of the start-up team for The U, an initiative that creates volunteer-led training sessions on the high street in areas like first aid and conflict resolution, and managed the Faking It pilot, a programme that challenged young unemployed people to fake it as chefs in 2 weeks.
Funded by London (March 2012)