Over the last 12 months, we’ve been working with government and key opinion-formers to explore how we can embed youth social action at the heart of communities across the UK. Since 2010, O2 has been proud to play its part in creating exciting youth leadership opportunities through our Think Big programme, which has so far funded over 4000 social action projects across the country. With the support of the Telefonica Foundation, we’re helping young people to turn their great ideas into action, building their skills and employability and making a positive difference in their communities.

However, whilst there are some excellent examples of dedicated support for youth social action, only 29% of young people in the UK currently engage in youth social action compared to over 58% in Canada. With youth unemployment at an all-time high and clear evidence of the long-term effects on health and well-being and earning potential for a ‘lost generation’ it’s clear that opportunities for social action have a clear role to play in harnessing the untapped talents of the nation’s young people. An independent evaluation of the Think Big programme bears this out – demonstrating how social action builds confidence, networks and resilience, enabling young people to cope better with socio-economic uncertainty and forge a future that’s right for them.

That’s why we’re supporting the Campaign for Youth Social Action – a national campaign to inspire a generation of young people through increasing the quality, quantity and frequency of social action for all young people aged between 10 and 20. The Campaign has an ambitious goal to double the number of young people participating in social action to over 50% by 2020. That’s an additional 1.7 million young people engaging in social action for the first time. The campaign brings together leaders from across UK civic society, led by HRH The Prince of Wales and with support from all of the main political parties.

Lending his support at the launch of the campaign, Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefonica UK said: ‘Telefonica believes that social action can have a transformational impact on young people, equipping them with important life skills and delivering strong social and economic benefits to the UK.  We are delighted, therefore, to back the Campaign for Youth Social Action to bring two million more young people into social action by 2020.  The social action quality and outcomes framework will encourage high standards in social action programmes and help provide an exciting range of high class opportunities for young people.’

The initiative, which is supported by all three main political parties, as well as the youth, education, voluntary and business sectors, is designed to build a national culture of youth action across the UK, generating thousands more opportunities for young people to share their time and talents for social good.

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