Element Society launch Community Responders Scheme for youth-led social action

Written by Hannah Richardson

A Sheffield-based charity is giving the young people of the city who have been silenced by the pandemic their voices back.

Youth-led initiatives have been at the heart of Element Society’s mission since their conception in 2013. The charity provides young people from underrepresented backgrounds with the resources and guidance to step up and implement the changes they think their communities need.

Since 2013, they have worked with Sheffield’s young people to complete over 3000 social action programmes, from handing out food parcels to the homeless to launching a podcast keeping their peers up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 guidance.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has left many young people disconnected, with feelings of isolation becoming increasingly prevalent. This is where Element Society’s new Community Responder Scheme comes in.

Aimed at 16-to-24-year-olds from across Sheffield, the scheme intends for young people to “be encouraged to devise social action projects that they feel are important to them and their communities” in the context of the social challenges resulting from the pandemic.

David Green, the coordinator of the project, said: “The project involves young people coming to us and saying: ‘This is what really fires me up, this is where my values are, this is what I think should be done.’”

Tanshinga Matewe, 20, first participated in one of the initiatives organised by the charity when she was 16, working on a project to promote awareness of child exploitation. Four years later, she has a job with them and the charity still runs child exploitation workshops within local schools.

She said: “It just started off as just being something fun to do during a summer, but actually I was really able to see how much of an impact it was making on me, my friends and the community around me.

“What is better than young people educating other young people?”

Once candidates have successfully pitched an idea, the charity will provide them with the funds, resources and guidance to implement it. They will also teach them the necessary skills to carry it out successfully, including safe-guarding, risk assessment, project planning and communication skills.

Anyone who wants to get involved can find the application forms via the Element Society website.

Written by Hannah Richardson

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