One of our key achievements last year was seeing the work of our Stand Out Young Champions, who have exceeded all our expectations, giving up a total of 980 hours of their time over the year to shape and steer Movement to Work’s multi-million-pound youth development programme across the West Midlands.

A background of the project

In the summer of 2021, Movement to Work was commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority Jobs and Skills Academy to form a Youth Steering Group to oversee and help steer the work carried out by the ‘Stand Out’ Project. The ‘Stand Out’ Project is a National Lottery funded programme aimed at providing unique training, volunteering, and employment opportunities to young people across the West Midlands, utilising the backdrop of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. 

With the help of Participation People, Movement to Work established a Youth Steering Group in September 2021. The Youth Steering Group is made up of 11 Young Champions, who are young people, aged 18-30, that live in the West Midlands. The aim of the Young Champions was to ensure that decision-makers were listening to and engaging with young people throughout the programme. 

As part of the project, the Young Champions discovered new skills, strengthened their abilities in teamwork and communication, and most importantly, explored what it takes to make decisions and challenge BIG decision-makers and business leaders. Each one brought something different to the project and we loved seeing them find their voices and participate, with particular shout-outs to:

  • Saleha for always showing up prepared and bringing her own perspective to the Zooms
  • Liz for bringing her learning from other programmes and projects to the Stand Out Table
  • Alex for going the extra mile and taking on additional responsibility to chair meetings
  • Hayden for showcasing all of his work outside of Stand Out, to offer a different perspective on challenges
  • Luke for speaking his truth and being so supportive of other team members

From running induction and training sessions with business leaders to holding steering group meetings, attending Youth Summit events, taking part in WMCA Assignment design and delivery, as well as 1-2-1 meetings, they have helped re-shaped how business leaders across the West Midlands approach youth training and employment. 


The project spanned the whole year but there are some worthy outputs and successes we wanted to draw attention to. 

Raising the profile of local, regional and national youth voices


Introducing business leaders to the concept of Youth Voice was central to this programme. The Young Champions were invited to take part in two Youth Voice Summits, chairing panels, participating in workshops and networking with senior executives. Drawing on their expertise of being young people, these were opportunities for the Young Champions to educate decision-makers on what it’s like to grow up in the West Midlands and to learn what it takes to make business decisions and challenge decision-makers. 

Equally, when asked by business leaders what to consider when investing in youth development programmes, their suggestions have been invaluable: 

  • More mentoring opportunities for young people to help them get jobs, no matter their disability
  • Help businesses to think of young people as important. Not just a way to make more money
  • SEND awareness and training for business leaders. Not just a tick box, but led by young people with disabilities
  • Help those who need it most and not just with a 6-week programme, but something long term and meaningful
  • Consider young people as role models and influencers. Pay them a wage to promote these programmes with you
  • Help young people to see good role models – especially ones who had it tough but have now made it to a job they like and get paid for
  • Not everyone is going to be an X-Factor star, and that’s ok. Some jobs will be boring. That’s ok. Help young people manage expectations before they go looking for a perfect job
  • Have cool organisations working with young people – who keep their promises and show up when help is needed most

    Inspiring business leaders to think differently

    The Young Champions’ programme was essential to encourage business leaders to think differently about youth issues and to collaborate with young people to create solutions for the recruitment, induction and training of young people. Although it can be challenging to inform, influence and challenge professionals effectively,  the Young Champions helped decision-makers unlearn approaches that have inhibited them from effectively addressing these problems in the past. 

    Movement to Work commented on the benefits of the youth steering group sessions and how these inspired their team to think differently:  

    “Our youth steering group has reminded us to keep things light-hearted, to not get too bogged down in time slots and agenda items and to remember above all, communication is key. Our Stand Out Youth Steering Group has encouraged us to think, in detail, about improvements not only to the core Stand Out project under review, but the way in which we conduct ourselves as professionals, how we undertake ‘business like meetings’ and how we present information or data from a truly inclusive standpoint.” – Movement to Work team 

    Business leaders they directly influenced with their findings, also commented; 

    “Being a mentor with the Young Champions gave me the opportunity to learn more about communicating with a young person, and how they perceive someone in my position. My mentoring role allowed me to offer insight into the workings of a large corporation and my personal journey to reach a senior level within the business. This one-on-one relationship provided the young person a window into the world of business and expanded their understanding of opportunities available to them in this sphere.  

    I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the project. Participation People were really supportive and although I left the project early due to work arrangements, I was able to continue with my mentoring role which has definitely benefited the young person I am working with.”

    Anneli Daniels, Area Director of HR, Marriott Hotels International Ltd

    A few words from the CEO of Movement to Work, Gillian Churchill

    A big thank you to our Young Champions who have been an integral part of the Stand Out programme since it began last year.

    They have shared their experiences of being a young person in the West Midlands, openly and honestly, and this ‘youth voice’ has played a vital role in helping to shape the programme’s delivery . 

    They have challenged the norm, suggested new and more creative ways of doing things and brought fresh perspective, leading to key learnings which will no doubt add great value to future projects of this kind.”

    Gillian Churchill, CEO of Movement to Work

    Speak to our experts to find out more about our Young Champions programmes and how we can help you develop stronger partnerships between young people and decision-makers in your area.

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