Case study: UpRising

by Kine Nordstokka on Mon, 2010-12-06 13:52
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Name: UpRising
Location: London and Birmingham, UK
Date Founded: 2008
Mission: To support and train a new generation of public leaders

Background and aims

UpRising was developed in response to a widespread concern that in many parts of Britain young people lack routes into positions of leadership and power – whether in politics and the public sector, or in business and the third sector.The routes that once helped to find and nurture leaders no longer do so to the same extent. The average age of local councillors is now 58 and quangos are largely dominated by middle class, and middle-aged professionals. Many young people feel cut off from power as never before, particularly in white working class communities and some ethnic and religious minority communities.

UpRising is a new leadership programme developed by the Young Foundation to support and train a new generation of public and community leaders. UpRising’s mission is to open pathways to leadership for talented young adults aged 19-25 from diverse backgrounds and to equip them with the skills, knowledge, networks, confidence and power to transform their communities and Britain for the better. UpRising was launched in 2008 in the East London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets. The programme is now expanding to Birmingham and other major cities across the UK.

The Innovation

UpRising is a practical response to an extremely visible problem - many people in marginalised communities are excluded from positions of power and influence. By providing opportunities to young adults from marginalised communities to acquire knowledge, skills, networks and means of mutual support UpRising helps ensure a more equitable voice both for individuals and their communities. In developing a new bridging institution, UpRising is breaking new ground in attempting to meet a major social need. UK is lacking an institution that works with young adults from marginalised communities to prepare them for public life and politics – especially if they come from working class and minority ethnic backgrounds. UpRising represents a unique opportunity to fill this void, and change Britain for the better. The aim is to create a pool of talented young leaders from diverse backgrounds that can take up positions of power in public institutions.

Through stimulating learning sessions and a leadership retreat, participants learn skills from team working to communicating through the media. Young adults on the programme have been helped to serve their community in a multitude of ways, from volunteering in a Children’s Centre to campaigning to raise awareness of the effect of the drug khat on the Somali community.

By providing a route for young adults to constructively engage with and challenge the political system, UpRising helps marginalised communities getting a meaningful voice and stake in the political system and nurture talent in these communities. By finding and developing a new generation of people entering public life from a diverse range of backgrounds, who are connected to and in touch with the community, UpRising can help mend the rift between the public and the political system. Through the experience of a wide range of leadership programmes with a culture of public service, UpRising aims to develop leaders who will exercise power with responsibility, integrity and in the public interest.

UpRising monitors the background of participants on the programme, and develops the approach to recruitment appropriately to ensure participants of the programme are reflective of the community. It aims to reach a wide pool of participants, including those who may not think of themselves as leaders.

The young people are involved in creating the programme. There are regular opportunities for participants to provide feedback on the programme, which is acted upon by the UpRising staff. A steering group of participants helps direct the programme, ensuring the participants’ needs are met. There are also opportunities for participants to take a lead on aspects of the programme, such as facilitating or designing the content for learning sessions.

UpRising graduates are already leading the way in the contributions they are making to their communities. Past participants have gone on to be school governors, start their own NGOs, successfully lobbied for legislation change, started their own social enterprises, been elected to local government, become members of the Big Lottery Fund's awarding panel and trustees for charities.

Key Ingredients

UpRising is a one year part-time programme. Participants contribute 3-4 hours a week of their leisure time over 1 year and take part in a weekend residential.

UpRising helps develop the skills, knowledge, networks and sources of mutual support available to participants. For example, participants learn public speaking and media communication skills that are important to influencing change; have the opportunity to visit major public institutions to learn about how they operate; attend networking events with leaders from major public institutions; and are encouraged to build bonds of mutual support with each other. The overall aim is to increase the agency of participants to bring about positive change in their communities. UpRising offers several activities to reach this aim:

The social action project is the core learning experience framing the UpRising Leadership Programme. Structured as a group project, they offer participants the chance to work with a team of peers to impact real change around an issue that is important to them.

Through behind-the-scenes visits to public institutions such as the Houses of Parliament, New Scotland Yard, and the BBC, UpRisers learn first-hand how decisions are made. Leveraging UpRising’s network of supporters and institutional partners, UpRisers have the opportunity to meet and question those in power.  

Through monthly learning sessions, UpRisers receive training from inspiring speakers such as leading journalists, politicians and activists to sharpen skills including public speaking, management, and ethical leadership.  

UpRisers have opportunity to receive one-to-one advice and support from a mentor for the duration of the 12 month programme. The mentorship component matches UpRisers with successful professionals in their chosen fields, enabling participants to acquire tailored knowledge, skills and networks to pursue their career. UpRising mentors are leaders in a range of fields – from the voluntary sector and politics to the arts, business, human rights and advocacy. In addition, advisors support a cohort of 2-4 UpRisers in setting goals and tracking their progress through monthly check-ins. Advisors also help participants to reflect on the development of targeted skills through feedback and coaching.

Lastly, UpRisers have the opportunity to go on a two-day leadership residential with participants from across East London and receive training from world class leadership consultants. UpRising also organisesmajor events with inspiring guest speakers. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and connect with leaders in politics, business, government, voluntary sector organisations and the media helping them to create and develop their own network of contacts.

Looking forward

UpRising will be scaling from a pilot to an independent youth leadership organisation. UpRising wants to build a movement that will open up Britain’s political systems to young adults from marginalised communities. To do this it has forged strong partnerships across the politics, business, media and third sector. UpRising is also looking to expand into new areas in the UK and to cultivate a vibrant alumni network that proved alumni with opportunities and connections. Lastly it is aiming torefine the programme so that its model is effective, distinctive, and replicable.


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