First Give enables 1,800 young people to make a positive difference to the causes they care about every year
First Give exists to inspire and enable young people to make a positive difference to the causes they care about. The charity works with secondary schools to deliver a curriculum based, fully resourced programme that engages an entire year group in social action in support of local charities.
The charity began in 2014 and has worked in partnership with the Jack Petchey Foundation since 2015, to deliver the programme in 100 secondary schools every year. This means that around 1,800 young people benefit yearly from the experience.
A key part of the programme is its celebratory School Finals; these events take place in each school and are the culmination of months of hard work by the participating year group. Teams of students representing their class deliver presentations about their social action projects and their chosen charities to an audience and panel of judges. The class who are considered to have scored the highest win £1,000 for their charity.
First Give at Ark Acton Academy
One such event took part at Ark Acton Academy in West London, one of the schools the Foundation support to participate on the First Give programme. The First Give Final at the academy has always been an exciting event in the school calendar. It is an opportunity for students to speak out about the causes that matter to them, and a celebration of what these students have done to make the lives of others in their community better.
On Friday 1st November, the sports hall was turned into a marketplace for each form group to promote and raise money for their charity in a social action fair. The rest of the school were invited in to hear about the causes Year 9 were focusing on and help raise funds for the charities being represented.
Students at Ark Acton Academy
On top of this social action fair, students across the year group planned and completed individual social action projects. One example of this is a sponsored silence to raise funds for Victim Support. The student that led this wanted to raise awareness of the fact that victims of crime often feel unable to talk about their experience.
The winning class, who were representing local charity Acton Homeless Concern also organised a collection of warm clothes and other donations for the charity’s homeless shelter. One student from this class reflected that: “My favourite part of doing First Give was the Final. This was where it all came together and we got to share how we as a form class helped our charity.”
The event at Ark Acton Academy was incredibly well attended, with teachers, students and of course very proud parents making up the excitable audience. We were also delighted to be joined by a distinguished judging panel. This was made up of the Head Teacher, student representatives, a local Metropolitan Safer Schools Officer; and a very special guest – Councillor Munir Ahmed, Deputy Mayor of Ealing.
Nickael Briggs, the lead teacher at Ark Acton Academy reflected on the importance of the Final event celebrating what students had done on the programme: “Social action is really important and often young people don’t feel that there’s any point to them doing anything, and there isn’t any recognition. So I think where this project allowed them to get in contact with their charities and to campaign on behalf of them, I think that should be recognised, and we should celebrate young people when they are turning their energy into something positive like this.”
First Give, Jack Petchey Foundation & Covid-19
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, events like First Give Finals can’t run as they normally would at the moment. However, thanks to partnerships like the one between First Give and Jack Petchey Foundation, the charity has been able to adapt how it supports young people for this new set of circumstances. In April 2020, First Give launched its programme ‘First Give – Helping from Home’ which will support young people to carry out social action for their communities from the safety of their homes. Each month, one inspirational young person will win £200 for the charity of their choice because of their social action.
With nearly 100 downloads of the programme’s materials in under two weeks, it’s going to be an exciting to see what young people get up to as a result of the programme! And rest assured, as soon as it’s possible, First Give will be back in schools across London and Essex, like Ark Acton Academy, to inspire young people to support their communities.