Over the past year, England has experienced some of the most tense and tragic events in recent history. From the terrorist attacks in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park, to the rise of hate crimes and prejudice following the EU Referendum and the murder of Jo Cox MP. We live in a time of tensions, division and misunderstanding which can lead some people to hate and to violence. How can we build trust and understanding? We believe young people can play an important role. We want to create a dynamic movement of young people through our Catalyst Programme who will be leaders for change and equipped to transform our society. We know that you, like us, want change.
Near Neighbours is a movement which has been working to bring ethnically and religiously diverse communities across England together, so that they can get to know each other better, build relationships of trust, and collaborate on initiatives that improve their local community. It has brought over a million people together since 2011. Near Neighbours developed the Catalyst programme to equip young people with the knowledge and skills to help this become a greater reality.
Luton is one of the most culturally diverse areas in England, with 35% of its residents of a BME background, and has a wonderful reputation for celebrating its rich culture through its annual Luton International Carnival. However it is not without its challenges. Residents have been frustrated by the negative press coverage, the town being labelled as a "Terror Hotspot", and known as the breeding ground of the English Defence League. Luton also suffers from a high incidence of hate crime, with 232 incidents reported across Bedfordshire between April and July 2016. Luton's young people are also struggling to find opportunities and employment, as 19.1% of the town's youth were without jobs last year. We believe our course will be a Catalyst for change in Luton.
What is Catalyst and how is it going help?
Catalyst is an exciting and innovative leadership programme, that has been accredited to NVQ Level 2 and is entirely free for 20 young people per course. Its aim is to empower young people to act as positive role models in their neighbourhoods and communities. Catalyst emphasises the importance of religious and ethnic diversity in our country and encourages its students to be understanding and supportive to people of all backgrounds. The Catalyst Course and Alumni programme offers great employment prospects for those who take part, with access to an impressive job reference and a network of possible employers, our graduates are given a helping hand into the job market. Catalyst graduates have gone on to be Young Leaders for the US Embassy, work for their local MP's, study at Madrid University, set up a Syrian Kitchen and so much more.
We recruit young people who have leadership potential living in diverse communities in England. We make sure that our course is targeted towards “need to reach” young people, who make up 80% of our students. Many young people from disadvantaged communities possess the energy and enthusiasm needed to create real change, but often lack the confidence, skills, and opportunities to bring people together. Catalyst aims to create a new generation of young leaders who have positive relationships with people of other faiths and ethnicities, and will go on to improve their local communities. In fact, 87% of our students feel better equipped to take on leadership roles in their community after they have graduated from Catalyst.
After completing the course, our research shows that each graduate will go on to positively impact 100 others, so by investing in just one Catalyst programme, you could help over 2000 people in Luton. Catalyst has a growing reputation in Luton as a fantastic leadership programme. So far 39 graduates from Luton have gone on to make a difference in their communities, but we need your support to allow 20 more young people the same opportunity to be leaders of change in Luton.
*This figure is an average cost taken from our previous programmes
What will the Catalyst Course involve?
- Course Leaders will find and recruit 20 students to take part in Luton, from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs.
- The course contains a blend of high quality training modules, taught in a safe and professional environment by expert trainers, and delivered through group work, workshops, talks, and presentations.
- Key topics such as Leadership, Job Preparation and Integration in Action: Law, Politics and Demoracy.
- Catalyst provides workshops on job and interview skills, preparing students for the future with an impressive job reference.
- Keynote speakers from all over the country and from a range of sectors.
- Catalyst aims to provide life skills that will allow the student to thrive in their community.
- Participants will attend national keynote events such as a workshop at Twitter or a trip to the Houses of Parliament.
- The course offers the opportunity for additional training such as financial management and online marketing.
- After graduation, the Catalyst alumni network offers support and opportunities for personal and career development.
"Catalyst changed my life. It opened my mind in a way that I didn't know before, it broadened so many horizons and opened so many doors for me.' - Jasmin, now a Young Leader for the US Embassy in the UK
"Over the last four years since graduating from the Catalyst Programme, my life has moved faster and further than I could have ever dreamt of" - Rahoul, now an entrepreneur and student
"The Catalyst Programme opened my eyes to the importance and significance of peace and living in an integrated society" - Beverly, now an assistant to her local MP