Think Big – 02 and child friendly Leeds

Start small, but start something – Think Big

Imagine a place where we teach our children to be employers, not employed; to be producers, not consumers; to forge their own path, make their own luck; to be creative, to be active, to try stuff, to fail, to share, to learn….

To start small, but just start?

Think Big is Telefónica O2’s branding for our corporate, social responsibility program and we have big ideas and big commitments. Before 2015 we’ll have:

• Supported over 1 million young people to develop skills for life and lead their own community projects;

• Helped over 10 million of our customers to lead more sustainable lives and;

• Delivered carbon benefits to customers that are 10 times the impact of our network.

These main objectives are underpinned by 40 commitments which we call our blueprint. I won’t go through all the commitments here but just explain a little about how we support them at a local level and share with you some of our successes.

Making Leeds a child friendly city and being an ambassador

I’d like to make the link between our commitments to our community & planet in the same way that Child Friendly Leeds have made their open commitments and obsessions to support young people in our city & to feel they have a voice & are valued. In the same way, we believe that young people are at the heart of our future and that it’s our responsibility to support them in their journey from school into the world of work. The terminology may be different but our vision is the same.

I love being a Child Friendly Leeds ambassador. It’s enabled me to make new contacts within the city, I’ve learned a lot about how different organisations and the council approach being child friendly & I believe I’ve made some great personal connections too. I’m quite a Tweeter and many of the people I’ve met through the program I now tweet more as friends than just business colleagues which is great. From a Think Big perspective, I love to see and share the positive work we’re doing across the city and I’m proud to work for an organisation that does genuinely give so much back. We do things for the right reasons, not for publicity and knowing that gives me immense job satisfaction.

Think Big in Leeds

Think Big has many different access points for young people. Through our Youth Program, we provide grant funding for 13-25 year olds who wish to start community projects. These could be a dance group, a coding club, a young carers support group, a magazine or radio station or even a group of young people who want to campaign to get first aid onto the primary school curriculum.

We also deliver enterprise and enrichment sessions in schools, supporting Leeds Education Business Partnership by sending volunteers along to support the students as well as hosting on site visits.

Our flagship event is Think Big School – a day of ideas generation, digital entrepreneurship & skills development. It inspires the students to consider starting their own businesses and shows them that no ideas are silly ideas; the technology is out there to make these things happen, they just need to believe in themselves & their ability. You don’t have to be the brightest kid or from a certain side of the tracks to have that one amazing idea that could catapult you to success.

So, as you can see, we are completely passionate & committed to the young people in our local communities. Without boring you with stats, I’ll just share a few headline numbers with you for our work in Leeds:

• In 2012, over 4500 young people gained work skills or skills for life through the work we do.

• Since 2013, over 400 young people have attended Think Big School.

• 12 students gained an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) for their work on the AMP awards which we are key sponsors of.

• We’re also proud to be accredited to the IEBE’s ‘Education Ready’ quality standards demonstrating business excellence in our work with young people & employability.

So, that’s us in a nutshell. I could talk all day about the amazing work we do, of which I’m proud to say I get immense job satisfaction from, but I’ll leave the last word to the Chief Operating Officer of Telefónica S.A; José María Álvarez-Pallete López

“A modern progressive business cannot measure its success in pure profit and loss terms. At a time of high youth unemployment and economic uncertainty throughout Europe, it’s right that our businesses should play its part in supporting young people to change their future for the better, as well as ours…”

To find out more about child friendly Leeds and how you can get involved or become an ambassador yourself, see www.leeds.gov.uk/childfriendlyleeds

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