• O2 joins HRH the Prince of Wales, the three main political party leaders and business leaders to back a campaign that encourages young people to spend time on social action
  • O2 pledges to give financial support to 10,000 youth projects that will deliver 50,000 young people with opportunities to participate in youth action programmes
  • Annual celebration of youth social action planned at The O2 to recognise and reward young people’s contributions through social action

O2 has put its support behind the Step Up To Serve campaign, which has been launched today (Thursday 21 November) at Buckingham Palace.

Step Up To Serve aims to double the number of young people participating in social action by 2020, from 29% today to over 50% in seven years’ time – an additional 1.7 million young people engaged with such projects for the first time.

The campaign aims to increase existing opportunities for social action amongst 10 to 20 year olds and will focus on creating a “culture of volunteering” which, based on academic research, is likely to last into older life if it is embedded early.

The campaign, led by HRH the Prince of Wales, has the support of all three main political party leaders, as well as businesses, education institutions, faith groups, youth organisations and voluntary groups across the UK.

Research by McKinsey estimates that increasing the proportion of young people involved in social action from 29% to 50% in the UK would add almost 90 million hours of voluntary work per year and contribute almost £700 million to the economy.

In a powerful commitment to the campaign and to youth social action, O2 has pledged to:

  • Back 10,000 youth social action ideas, which will reach a further 50,000 young people through Think Big (www.o2thinkbig.co.uk) by 2020
  • Focus its offer to engage 50% of participants from disadvantaged backgrounds or areas of high deprivation, working with over 70 youth sector partners across the UK
  • Help young people to turn their social action projects into sustainable digital or social ventures, with support from Wayra and Wayra Unltd,  Telefónica’s  digital business and social enterprise accelerator
  • Host an annual celebration of youth social action at The O2 to recognise and reward young people’s contributions
  • Maximise its GoThinkBig.co.uk platform as a channel to promote the benefits of social action to its 0.5 million unique users and work with UK business partners to promote the links to employability
  • Promote social action in its recruitment materials and on its Talentum graduate recruitment website, encouraging applicants to include details about their experiences

Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive of O2 said: “Youth social action helps young people develop important skills for life and work, such as confidence, teamwork, leadership and a sense of shared responsibility for others.  It’s not just young people themselves who benefit, therefore, but communities and businesses across the UK.  That’s why O2 is supporting the Step Up To Serve campaign and making these strong commitments to support, value and celebrate social action by young people.”

O2 has an extensive track record of backing social action programmes amongst young people and of supporting young people into the workplace. For over three years through its Think Big programme, O2 has provided funding and mentoring to support young people’s social action projects in their communities, while O2’s GoThinkBig.co.uk platform has made over 9,000 work experience and internship opportunities available to young people in the past year.

O2 has made volunteering a core part of its business – and almost 40% of the company’s work force spend 50,000 hours a year supporting young people’s Think Big social action projects.

O2 Think Big Ambassador Anisa Haghdadi comments: “I’ve been involved in social action since I was 15 and have seen first-hand how it can inspire young people and help them to develop transferable skills. O2 Think Big has already helped thousands of young people run social action projects across the UK, so I really welcome the support it is giving to the Step up to Serve campaign and its commitment to strengthen support for young people.”

Research has shown that getting involved in their communities has significant benefits for young people, as well as benefitting society as a whole. For example, the CBI has identified that skills including determination and emotional intelligence are developed through social action, key attributes for employability.

However, according to Step Up To Serve, there are barriers holding many back from involvement in social action projects through existing, established groups. For example, there are not enough adult volunteers to support the work of organisations like the Scouts, Girls Guides and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards which would enable more young people to volunteer and make a contribution.

The new campaign has brought together groups of business with faith groups, youth organisations and voluntary groups across the UK to help address this shortfall.

In addition to the existing pledges of action, pledges are being gathered through the #iwill hashtag on Twitter. Step Up To Change is calling on businesses and members of the public to pledge via the website www.stepuptoserve.org.uk or by tweeting using #iwill to show their commitment to the campaign to say what they can do to contribute.


– Ends

O2 Press Office
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e: pressoffice@o2.com

Hope&Glory PR
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About Think Big

Young people are full of ideas, energy and enthusiasm. But they need the right support to turn their ideas into reality. That’s where Think Big comes in.

Think Big, O2’s social action programme, is funded by the Telefónica UK Foundation and is designed to encourage young people across the UK, aged 13-25, to harness their passion and run projects and campaigns in their local communities. The initiative works by putting cash directly in the hands of young people and supporting them to use the money in a way that delivers a positive impact in their local area.

In addition to the financial support, young people receive substantial training and mentoring from some of the most experienced O2 professionals, to give them a hand in tackling the issues that really matter to them.

With the help of some great partners, including The National Youth Agency and UK Youth, Think Big has supported 4,000 projects over the last three years.


About O2

O2 is the commercial brand of Telefónica UK Limited and is a leading digital communications company. With over 23 million customers, O2 runs 2G, 3G and 4G networks. As well as operating O2 Wifi and owning half of Tesco Mobile, O2 has over 450 retail stores and sponsors The O2, O2 Academy venues and the England rugby team. Read more about O2 at www.o2.co.uk/news.

Telefónica UK Limited is part of Telefónica Europe plc (a business division of Telefónica SA) which uses O2 as its commercial brand in the UK, Slovakia, Germany and the Czech Republic. 

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
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