It all starts here – Inaugural Year Here Fellowship Launches

Our first fellowship is live, kicking off with one of the most intense weeks of our lives: Bootcamp!

Bootcamp served to introduce our fellows to each other – other pioneering grads who’d leapt at the chance to challenge themselves, join a network of ambitious and compassionate people and do something real.

The first Year Here challenge to be introduced was educational disadvantage – the fact that, in Britain, the lottery of your birth is a bigger predictor of your educational and career success than in nearly any other developed country. If you grow up poor in the UK, the odds are stacked against you.

Year Here Fellow Michael Simpson facilitates a focus group with Globe Academy students.

If you went to University, did you know what you wanted to do for a career before you applied?

We’d hazard a guess that, for many, the answer is a ‘no’. But you probably still felt comfortable about the idea of going to University and working out what on earth you were going to do with your life while – or even after – studying.

But during our first ‘raid’, where fellows were challenged to plan and facilitate a focus group with Year 10s at the Globe Academy on aspiration and university access, we discovered that for many, often from tough backgrounds, not knowing what career to choose sounded an alarm bell: Uni is not for me.

To introduce homelessness, we were incredibly lucky to be invited to see a performance of Glasshouse, a production from Cardboard Citizens, the UK’s only homeless people’s professional theatre company. We can’t say we weren’t warned but Glasshouse was hardcore, a raw snapshot of what life can be like when it spirals out of control: drugs, sex, abuse, violence and some tough decisions for the protagonist.

Cardboard Citizens employs the forum theatre methodology developed by Brazilian Augusto Baol as part of his Theatre of the Oppressed. The audience is invited to come up on stage to act out the characters’ roles at key moments.

Year Here Fellow Stella Grant stepping up to play the protagonist in Glasshouse.

Turning up to Silk Court Care Home somewhat overdressed (our next appointment was at Number 10) on Friday, we introduced our third challenge: Ageing and Isolation. We threw a coffee morning inspired by Magic Me’s Cocktails in Care Homes model and were regaled by war stories and tales of lost loves by the residents of Silk Court.

Year Here isn’t only about the social issues we seek to tackle. It’s also about our own personal capacity to tackle them effectively. We believe that it takes hard-won courage, skill and insight to turn a sense of passion or injustice into real social change.

So we went deep.

With all of 2 days to prepare, Fellows and Year Here team members each gave a presentation on their life stories, using the Pecha Kucha format. Moscow State Circus, the Windrush, double-exposure photography and kibbutz all got mentions in what turned out to be a deeply personal and emotional afternoon.

Bootcamp week culminated in a reception at Number 10 Downing Street.

The week culminated with our launch at Number 10 – and an article about our launch in the Evening Standard. Fellows Andy and Flora gave assured and passionate speeches on everyone’s behalf as they embarked on their years here.

As we start the very first Year Here fellowship, we called upon our fellows to be bold, compassionate and visionary. And in just one week we were convinced that they would rise to this challenge.

A huge thank you to all who enabled bootcamp week to happen:

Facilitation – Nick Nielsen, John Cremer
Raids – Globe Academy, Cardboard Citizens, Silk Court Care Home and Citizens UK
Entertainment – The Maydays
Social Innovation Lecture Series – Neil Jameson, Emma Southgate, Cynthia Shanmugalingam
Launch Host – 10 Downing Street
Launch Speakers – Matt Jones, Seyi Obakin, Philip Colligan

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