When We Speak – Activating the next generation of activists Part 3: Aliyah

When We Speak – Activating the next generation of activists Part 3: Aliyah

When We Speak Article Part 3

Young people describe their experiences of being part of the first cohort of our new youth activism project, When We Speak.

The project aims to inspire and enable young people in East London to bring change. As part of this project Toynbee Hall will be directly supporting young people between the ages 15 to 25 to run their own local project by providing grant money, training & coaching.

Since October 2019 we have been helping 6 social impact projects grow in a number of ways; forming stronger networks, workshop training and providing microgrants to test their incredible activism.

In this blog series we hear from some of the participants about their experience on the project so far and what they have gained from it so far.


Have you ever imagined the endless possibilities of what our 21st century education system could be?

Fair and adequate funding distrusted equally amongst all schools. Abolishment of exclusions. Rich curriculums that accurately represent our cultures histories. Where the education system did not generate a mental health crisis in young people. Or perhaps even no exams?

Well it is rather strenuous to do so, when during the midst of everyday life, it feels as if we are being dragged along the mundane cycle of school or work. Monday to Friday. The notion that our minds can dare to wander into the spaces that provoke thoughts of imagining beyond our current reality- seems practically impossible. The everyday 9-5. As our global leaders pressed forcefully on the red pause button, the world But. COVID-19’s lockdown uncomfortably forced so many of us to isolate ourselves from got a moment to finally think… “What could be next?”, “What could our future begin to look like post- pandemic?” or “Is now time for a complete and utter revolution?”. We begin to question in ways we had not before and dream of things we could not imagine before.

Although, Imagination is commonly perceived as “messy, a bit cheeky, potentially uncontrollable, frivolous and unprofitable use of time. It is considered as the domain of children”. (According to Hopkin) Yet, from the very beginning, since When We Speak invited me to the programme, the idea of imagination has been encouraged and welcomed more than I have possibly ever experienced before. It has been at the centre of all we do. Believing that the changes we wished to see was well and truly possible and we were the ones that could be at the forefront of it.

I created Pupil Power. A student-led movement that is engaging and educating students on educational policies that affected them and their experience of school. I dared to imagine what school could really be. And I created Pupil Power to help others with that too. We are crucially thinking about the harmful practice and policies that prevent young people across the UK from accessing the fairest and greatest quality education. I believe that imagination is the only thing we have that is or could be radical enough to get us to accomplish our goals in creating a better future- Provided that it is accompanied of course with bravery and action. When We Speak played a huge role in fully launching Pupil Power.

The support that I have received from When We Speak Programme has been second to none. 1:1 mentoring, full-time guidance and assistance and a mini grant to support me with creating a prototype to test. Pupil Power toolkits. A physical toolkit aimed to equip young people in the classroom with the skills, resources, and materials to re-design their own education system. I hosted three of my own events and continued to spread awareness on educational inequality. When We Speak challenged me to think big and bold. Connecting me with graphic designers, business leaders and creators. We had facilitated workshops surrounding different areas to learn more and develop as leaders.

All in all, my experience as a part of When We Speak helped activate my activism journey fully. It prepared me to push my boundaries, test the limit and share my voice. The campaign and projects meet new heights because of the skills, resources, and knowledge When We Speak provided for me. In little of a year, Pupil Power has built extreme momentum that has enabled us to act, build and change

In case you missed it, read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series and you can hear from more of the participants in part 3 coming soon.

Meet more of the When We Speak 2019/20 cohort.

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