This blog post was first posted last year but we are re-posting it to celebrate 7 years of working with O2.
We are incredibly proud of our long term partnership with O2. For over five years we have worked together to support young people to start small and Think Big. By providing seed funds and support we have watched young people grow their innovative community ideas, unleashing their potential, energy and enthusiasm into the world and positioning them for their next steps. The numbers are impressive: more than 8,000 young people funded and over 150,000 impacted through their work. Layer on to that the fact that 50% are from disadvantaged backgrounds and we are even more proud.
Think Big started with a simple phrase. ‘We believe in young people’. NYA share this central value with O2 and have used the best of youth work to make each and every Think Big journey a special one. We have demonstrated this belief through creating a youth led delivery team, working with apprentices and interns to power the programme and continue their own professional development. They share a young person’s perspective; understanding concerns and able to offer opportunity and peer support.
The longevity of the programme is testament also to the ongoing innovation and high quality delivery; O2 are leading lights in the drive for digital skills, recognising that young people need to be not only safe and competent users but the digital creators of the future. Through Think Big we are helping young people harness technology for social good. It is a powerful way to not only impact on community but also an ideal vehicle for teaching, sharing and growing digital skills and confidence. We even have a digital space in London for young people to connect in and network out.
The approach of trusting and investing in young people and providing relevant learning opportunities is rocket fuel to success. This proven model has enabled O2 and NYA to work together to leverage additional funds from Cabinet Office and Big Lottery. The former to reach deeper into communities with young people outside of formal structures and the later to power young people to embrace the best of tech and create sustainable solutions to environmental challenges, bringing greener futures to us all.
NYA’s journey with O2 is a powerful changer for us too. We know that youth work works. We know that traditional resources for young people have been diminished. Through this partnership we have found a positive and rewarding way to work with business to do good and tell an amazing national story. We are committed to our mission to keep finding new and innovative ways to generate opportunities for young people and for flying the flag for youth work. It is powerful. It is effective. It changes lives.
But all this success is only the start. O2 have committed to a new phase. Together we are building on current methodology, approaches and lessons learned to drive reach and engagement to support young people to Learn, Launch and Lead. A refreshed offer of accessible funding, training, opportunities, support and advice delivered using youth work principles and practice, wrapped up in the best of technology and connectivity. With O2 we will keep the unwavering commitment to working with disadvantaged young people and continue to foster in young people the belief that ‘it is not where they are from but where they are going’ that will shape their lives.