Press Release | 15th September 2020 | For Immediate Release

This summer over 1,500 young people aged 11 to 15 from 100 schools across the UK committed to an online course which resulted in taking real life action in their communities. The programme, called Global Social Leaders Catalyst was organised by Future Foundations and the Wellington Leadership and Coaching Institute.

Future Foundations is an independent award-winning organisation which believes in the power of young people to create a more sustainable and brighter future.

The programme was commissioned by Innovate UK, in response to Covid-19 challenges faced by young people. The funding enabled the programme to be free-of-charge and offer developmental activities to young people attending state-funded schools across the United Kingdom, during the summer holidays.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £20 million in innovation projects. The aim is to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic, click here to find out more.  A WHO-UNICEF-Lancet commission makes it clear that all stakeholders, from governments to parents, must:

Ensure the physical and mental impacts of the Covid-19 epidemic on adolescents are kept minimal. Immediate actions are warranted.

The young social leaders took part in three different phases over four weeks. Phase one consisted of a 5-day morning course, delivered live by Future Foundations expert facilitators and guest speakers including Vicky Carter, a BBC Reporter who taught the young participants how to create their own podcasts.

Following the course, in phase two, the participants took part in independent challenges from home and in their local community such as:

  • Ellen MacArthur Foundation – Challenged participants to learn about the circular economy and apply learning to rethink how chocolate bars are packaged and delivered to help reduce ocean plastics
  • Small Robot Company – Challenged participants to design a farm machine of the future
  • The Eden Project – Challenged participants to say #iwill4nature

This phase identified that in order to support impactful organisations moving forward, the participants were to volunteer their time to pledge (fundraise), publish (raise awareness) or power (create a campaign). Once they had completed a challenge, they were invited to record a podcast about an issue they are passionate about utilising all their skills they picked up on during phase one of the programme.

Phase three is all about reflection and graduating from the GSL Summer Programme, which saw young people support 187 different organisations and raise over £16,000 for local charities.

Jonathan Harper FRSA, CEO, Future Foundations commented:

“This innovative programme was designed to respond to Covid-19 challenges faced by young people and communities across the UK. We are delighted and inspired by the amount of money and awareness raised by the participants for causes they care following taking part in our GSL Summer Programme, and we can’t wait to celebrate with them during their virtual graduation. They are the future, and that’s why investing in the young people of today is so essential for tomorrow”.

Testimonials from the participants:

  • “The three most important things that I have learned is to be myself, be confident, and to always value others opinions”
  • “I loved meeting new people, hearing their voices and interacting with people from across the country and world. It helped me gain even more confidence as I have never met so many people at once”
  • “We are all leaders and no matter what path you choose, you will always become a leader in it if you want”
  • “I enjoyed it because I got to increase my confidence and I got to talk to new people”
  • “I learnt I should always be open minded to new opportunities and experiences otherwise I won’t be able to properly succeed”
  • “I enjoyed talking to people and building my confidence on how to be a leader. GSL has helped me understand myself A LOT more”

The graduation will take place online via Zoom on Tuesday 15 September between 6-7pm. This day will also be the opening of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 75). The participants will receive their named e-certificates for completion of the 5-day GSL Catalyst Course (phase one) and for the challenges completed in phase two. The graduation will focus on youth voice, with four participants taking center stage, to share their experience of the programme, and its impact on their lives.

Following graduation, the young people will be invited to continue to take action, by setting up a team within their school, to enter a global project competition, aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development goals.

We invite students, parents and schools to visit the global social leaders website to find out more about supporting your students to be leaders in their lives and in society.

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For further information or press enquiries please contact:

Daisy Craydon PR E: M: 07539494720

Case studies on participants experience and projects are available on request.  Please email Daisy for details. 

Student spotlight

Kitty - Beaminster School

Kitty - Beaminster School

Kitty completed a project on Road Safety and it’s importance, she raised £100 for a local education charity SafeWise by walking/running a Marathon distance per week for 4 weeks.

Interview with Kitty about her experience of the programme

Can you provide a brief description of the main things you have taken from this programme? Has it had a positive impact on you?

I now understand the way leadership applies to me, and the difference I can make by taking something I am passionate about and making a change. I’ve faced my fear of the road, and begun to heal from the PTSD I suffer after a Road Accident myself earlier this year. I have more confidence. I feel braver and stronger.

What challenges did you face upon completing your project and how did you overcome them?

I was anxious about taking part – I don’t enjoy talking. I also have PTSD and struggle with roads, noise and corners. By facing these fears I have begun to heal. I managed to walk/run along some roads and deal with issues such as having to walk on the roads as there were cars parked on the pavement. I had to face what scared me, and with the support and encouragement of the programme and my Mum I have managed it. I’m so proud.

Given the restrictions in place with COVID this summer, can you describe your experience from participating in this programme?

The programme gave me a focus, and so much support. It was nice to have new people to talk and listen to, and it helped to remind me that there was a whole world out there still. It also allowed me to take charge of what I chose to do which was empowering. I ended up loving zoom, and taking part.


Future Foundations

Founded in December 2004, Future Foundations is an independent training organisation that aims to inspire young people to achieve their full potential and become leaders within their lives and in society. Its vision is a world where all organisations are led by socially conscious people, with every young person making the transition into adulthood with the foundations they need for their future.

We design and deliver pioneering training programmes and experiences for young people between the ages of 7 and 24 globally and for teachers and adults who want to inspire the next generation. We partner with leading organisations from the third, private, and public sector who share our vision and mission.

Working with over 20,000 young people in the last fifteen years, Future Foundations has delivered programmes for government departments, schools, colleges, universities and global companies.

Future Foundations was a winner of the Department for Education Character Awards 2015. In 2016, Chief Executive Jonathan Harper, FRSA, won the RSA Catalyst Award for commitment to supporting young people to achieve their full potential and in 2017 won the Enactus Alumnus of the Year global award, for exemplifying how entrepreneurial action for others can create a better world for all. In 2017, Future Foundations project managed a response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, working with Ark, the Aldridge Foundation and Kensington and Chelsea council, to organise a four-week summer programme of activities for young people living in the local community, who had been impacted directly or indirectly.

Future Foundations Contact Details

Jonathan Harper FRSA, CEO
E: T: 020 34 32 34 50 W:

Wellington Leadership and Coaching Institute

Wellington Leadership and Coaching Institute is a part of Wellington College and aims to develop leaders with the passion, values and skills to serve and make a positive difference to the lives of others. They deliver this vision through partnering with organisations in the public and private sector, including the Government, the Civil Service, the Cabinet Office, schools (local, national and international), universities (Oxford, Harvard, UPenn, Birmingham, UC Berkeley), charities, businesses and the Armed Forces.
The WLCI was founded on the core values of Wellington College: courage, integrity, respect, responsibility and kindness. It has three pillars, which inform the type of leaders it hopes to develop: leaders with great strength of character; the desire to serve and the skills needed to become a positive leader. The WLCI team have presented on leadership at Number 10, the Cabinet Office, the Department of Education, in China, Singapore, Mozambique and Australia, as well as for England Rugby.

Wellington College Contact Details:
Katy Granville-Chapman