With funds raised from the 2014 Virgin STRIVE Challenge, Big Change partnered with Reclaim – an organisation based in Manchester with an ambitious goal of ending leadership inequality within a generation.
With the mission statement “working class young people being seen, being heard, and leading change”, Reclaim helps young people to become civically engaged; not only to serves others, but to shift the dynamics so that they are no longer viewed as passive recipients of support but passionate agents of change.
The organisation, founded by author and activist Ruth Ibegbuna, encourages young people to think critically and challenge their inherited truths. Recognizing that there are kids all across England who dream of making an impact but feel far from able to, Reclaim empowers them, and “acts as a bridge, it supports them and says ‘you can do that’.”
Over the last year, it has been exciting to work alongside Reclaim and to see the impact that the STRIVE Challenge has on the ground. In this blog, Big Change youth advisor Elijah Walters shares with us how Reclaim has helped him to strive to lead in his own life.
“No matter where we are from, we all have hopes and dreams. We invest everything we have; our optimism, our courage, our perseverance and our ambition to make those dreams become our reality.
But, as human beings, we often feel our dreams are limited by our reality, especially by where our roots are laid. Accepting where we are from in life as a limitation, we can lose sight of our dreams and our ambitions. Eventually, and far too often, we accept our place in the very reality that holds us back in the first place.
No one can choose where his or her roots are laid, for that is beyond our control. Yet, in some ways, we can influence which fruits we bear. With the right mind-set, we can see beyond our reality and the beliefs it creates in our mind, telling us ‘this is all you can ever do’.
I myself have always had the dream to do something great with my life, so I could one day change the world for the better. Although being young at the time, not many people were willing to listen to what I had to say.
Until one day I came across Reclaim; an organisation led by young working class individuals to create the change in the world they wish to see. Through Reclaim, I became empowered to follow my ambition. In today’s society, many are not willing to acknowledge the voice of a young person; despite ambition, despite reason, a resolve for social change from the youth is not catered for. Yet I found the ability to strive for this goal of social change with Reclaim.
With Reclaim, I felt as if I now had the ability to project my voice on platform to people that were willing to listen to what I had to say. I was granted many opportunities to see beyond the confined reality of a life limited to possibility – allowing me to see beyond the ‘world’ I knew. From speaking to Lord Prescott, then speaking on a Panel at DemFest – through opportunity alone I saw the extent of my capabilities to make a change in the world.
The very definition of strive is to struggle through making a great attempt to attain something. We strive to rise above the challenges that life presents us with. Our struggles play a key role in shaping who we are; it is our nature to overcome setbacks in our lives. Those who strive are much like moths – we disregard the darkness around us and will pursue the light we see with all we have.
With Reclaim I’ve learnt to strive not for the individual I am today, but more importantly for the man I’ll grow to become tomorrow. While we may not be able to decide where our roots are laid, we should not let that limit what fruits we believe we are capable of bearing.”
Click here to support the more projects like Reclaim through the Virgin STRIVE Challenge 2016.
Click here to find out more about Big Change.