A Bedfordshire scheme encouraging the leaders of tomorrow has launched as an independent organisation at a reception in the Houses of Parliament.
Uprising - the leadership programme for young adults with bases in Bedfordshire, London, Manchester and Birmingham - has the backing of patrons David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.
After starting as a project within the Young Foundation, it has now relaunched as an independent charity and House of Commons Speaker John Bercow hosted the launch reception in the Speaker’s Rooms in Westminster on Monday evening.
UpRising works with talented young people from underrepresented groups, including those from white working class, black and ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as those with disabilities.
It provides leadership development training, such as public speaking, media training, and developing social action campaigning skills.
It connects them with leaders in politics, business and civic society to act as mentors to them via an organised networking programme.
The ‘UpRisers’ are then supported to engage in community projects and, in some cases set up social enterprises.
Adiva Kestenbaum, Head of UpRising in Bedfordshire and Luton said: “UpRising provides young people with support to achieve their potential, a chance for social mobility and social capital.
“We work with them to address inequality through taking social action in their local area, as a means of affecting personal change and positive community impact”.
The speakers at Monday’s launch alongside Uprising CEO Andrea Cooper included Rashanara Ali MP, who spearheaded the scheme, plus Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd and Shadow Education spokesman Tristram Hunt, himself an Uprising mentor.
Bedford was well represented at the launch with several Uprising alumni and mentors present, together with Richard Fuller MP, Uprising trustee Bridget Harris, David Russell of supporters The Harpur Trust and Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis.
Of UpRising’s 450 alumni over the last five years, two thirds have gone on to take part and lead social action campaigns in their communities. That compares with 29 per cent of young people in Britain who currently take part in any form of regular volunteering with a social purpose (figures from DEMOS).
A survey has identified two key routes to this success: practical leadership experience, gaining employability skills and developing networks with leaders in power – and that taking social action is a proven way to develop both of these attributes.
The programme originally launched in Bedford in October 2011, and was supported by the Harpur Trust and the University of Bedfordshire. In 2013 the programme expanded to include Central Bedfordshire and Luton.
During 2014, UpRising plans increase the number on its programmes by more than tenfold - from the current 165 per year to 1800. In Bedfordshire and Luton it will increase its numbers from 30 to 150.
To coincide with the launch of UpRising, the three party leaders sent video messages of support.
David Cameron MP, Prime Minister said: “Over the years Uprising has done incredible work for young people in Britain, helping people from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds rise into positions of leadership. I’m enormously proud to be an UpRising patron.”
Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, said: “We need to create a fairer society where everyone can get ahead in life, regardless of where they were born or who they know. All young people should be given the support to develop the right skills and jobs they deserve.”
Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition, said: “Too many young men and women are held back by lacking networks and opportunities others in more privileged positions take for granted. UpRising is working to change this, and has my full support. I would be delighted to see UpRising alumni make it to the 2020 Cabinet”.