< News

#iWill Power of Youth day

Lucy Davies
June 4, 2024

This #iWill Power of Youth day comes just a week after young people from across GSR came together to attend the SOS-UK Sustainability Summit, held at Lancaster University where we delivered a session called ‘Inspiring Youth-Led Climate Action’ to a group of around 50 young people.

A photograph of the student staff team, standing in front of a screen reading 'Inspiring Youth Led Climate Action'

It was so insightful to be able to attend, as well as present, at such an amazing summit as a young member of student staff - it is so important that youth are able to access these types of spaces to learn, network, and be inspired to make change. In this blog, I will take you through my experience at the summit, as well as getting an insight from both other student staff and external young people that attended the summit. 

The night before the summit, a networking dinner was held, where myself and the other student staff members joined together and networked over a delicious range of plant-based pizza. I was able to meet amazing staff from SOS-UK in person instead of on a video call, like our project managers of CAPs and TTT, as well as some of the trustees of the organisation! It also gave Green Lancaster an amazing opportunity to show people their fantastic eco hub, which was made up of rustic looking stone walls, old looking beams and the resulting cosy atmosphere. Green Lancaster is “a partnership between Lancaster University and the Students’ Union devoted to engaging students, staff, and the local community in practical responses to the climate and ecological emergencies,” and they worked hard over the couple of days to help the summit be as successful as it was by being such amazing hosts. This event really allowed the student staff to get to know each other more and become friends, while also allowing us to connect with a wide variety of different staff members, other youth activists and trustees. 

The following day was summit day! The Green Schools Revolution team met for breakfast and to discuss our upcoming workshop which we would be presenting later that morning. Being with the GSR team in person created a really calming and supportive atmosphere, something I found which kept true as the day went on, and I felt so welcomed as part of the team. 

A photograph of the student leading the session.

As mentioned previously, our GSR student staff led workshop was titled ‘Inspiring Youth-Led Climate Action’ and our aim was to educate the listeners on topics such as talking about climate change, intersectionality and movement ecology, while incorporating group activities and conversation opportunities for all, before ending on a call to action and a pledge made by each participating individual. While some of the team had experience speaking at conferences, this was my first experience running a workshop to an older audience of young people and adults - my role as a Climate Action Plan coordinator has often only involved working with young people up to the age of 18. Having this opportunity really offered me a chance to gain even more experience in public speaking and educating people about the importance of climate education, which will also improve these skills for when I run workshops in schools. The presentation ran very smoothly and it was received well by the participants. 

The session started with the ‘talking climate’ part of the workshop, run by me, Lucy, where the aim of the section was to educate the attendees on both the importance of starting that initial conversation, as well as discussing good and bad examples of talking about climate through facts and storytelling. This section also included an interactive slide where the participants could insert an answer to the question of “when we think about climate change - what do you think of and how do you feel?” Some responses included “worried” and “inequality” as well as words like “interconnected” and “motivated” - a really broad variety of responses to show the broadness of the crisis. This part of the workshop ended with some top tips to round the section off, before I handed over to Sachin. 

A photograph of attendees sat grouped around tables

Sachin then went on to start the second part of the workshop which was on ‘intersectionality.’ This section really opened my eyes, as was received so well by the audience - it is such an important topic to be discussed as no one is in the same boat when it comes to climate change and experiencing the effects of it. Sachin then went on to share some examples of climate change affecting marginalised groups in disproportionate ways, including the tragic death of Ella Kissi-Debrah who was a 9 year old girl who lived 25 metres away from the South Circular road in south-east London and died due to poor air quality. The topic of ‘no climate justice without social justice’ was discussed before talking about how climate action groups like XR and Just Stop Oil are not inclusive as they perpetuate systemic inequalities, due to the class and privilege of activists making them less at risk when protesting for climate justice. This part was concluded with a brief discussion from attendees on how they thought climate justice organising can be more intersectional and equitable. 

“It is crucial to the movement that we maintain an equitable, diverse and inclusive organising structure that does not hold back individuals, and having the opportunity to teach others how to do the same was incredibly powerful” - Sachin Bhopal-Myers

The last section was presented by Ailis and it was on ‘movement ecology.’ They advocated that “being in a movement ecology means you are aware of your role within social change efforts and are connected to other communities working for justice and liberation locally, regionally, and beyond”. After discussing the meaning of movement ecology, Ailis went on to discuss three ways of conceptualising movement ecology using three circles with: inside game, outside game, and alternatives. This allowed the audience to discuss and see where the groups and organisations they are with fit into this model. This was really well-received by the group and sparked insightful and engaging conversations. Ailis finished by talking through some examples of movement ecology outside climate action, touching on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the protest to legalise abortion in Ireland. 

A photograph of Ailis running the session.

As the session was coming to a close, we announced the call to action and everyone had a chance to write down their answer to “what are you going to pledge to do to help your place of education do their part in the fight for climate justice?” Some truly inspiring pledges were made at the end of the session and the feedback from participants was very positive! Charlotte Lastoweckyi quotes “the SOS-UK Sustainability Summit was an invigorating convergence of passionate individuals committed to driving positive change. The ‘Inspiring Youth-Led Climate Action’ workshop was a highlight for me, showcasing the power of youth voices in shaping our collective future.” 

A photograph of the pledge board, showing sticky notes with peoples' pledges.

The rest of the day, we were able to take part in other workshops, meet new people, and browse the stalls that had been set up in the main communal room. One stall I spoke to was Another Way, a youth-led charity with the aim to encourage people to make their own individual changes and actions in order to help our planet and environment. The work that they do is so eye-opening and inspiring. There were also amazing people from Emerald Publishing, Green Lancaster and SOS-UK, among others. Having these stands allowed for people to be inspired and further educated about what different groups and sectors are doing to help fight for climate and social justice - very captivating!

A photograph of the summit team.

My experience at the summit as a student staff member was uplifting and moving, from having the opportunity to present to other like-minded young people, engaging and networking with other members of staff from both SOS-UK and other organisations to learning and educating myself more on topics like mobilising for climate justice and what can be done to help fight for climate justice as a young person with the 2024 UK General Election coming up in July. 

Some additional feedback from attendees includes:

  • “Alongside all of the amazing sessions where we could learn from best practice, the summit gave us the chance to have in-depth conversations and collaborate with each other in the fight for climate action.” - Phoebe L. Hanson
  • “It was awesome to meet so many students who are passionate about the environment and trying to bring about change in their universities and roles. I can't wait for next year’s summit!” - Gemma, SOS-UK student staff

We had a great time at the summit and we wish more people would give young people a platform like this to come together and realise our power. Youth voices in change-making are vital in the fight for both climate justice as well as social justice, and at the summit we hope that we inspired more young people to use their voices to fight for what’s right.