Disability charity Leonard Cheshire has recruited fifteen young disabled people to train as reporters and raise awareness of disability issues that affect young people across the UK, as the world marks the UN International Day of Charity.
Aged 16-25, the reporters have signed up to train other people their age to highlight issues they face in their community through citizen journalism, assisted by experts from channels like the BBC.
They will create campaigns on issues such as access to jobs, education, discrimination and other aspects of the post-covid world, presenting them to key decision makers in their locality.
This is the ‘Change Makers’ programme, a name chosen by the budding journalists to reflect their desire to change the world.
Lead reporters have started working in four cities across the UK: Glasgow, Swansea, Belfast and Manchester.
Modelled on the Leonard Cheshire international programme ‘2030 and Counting’ that ran in Kenya, the Philippines and Zambia, ‘Change Makers’ seeks to replicate the success of the citizen reporting initiative.
Change Makers shares its aims with ‘2030 and Counting’. This in turn reflects one of the themes of the UN International Day of Charity, which is increasing participation of under-represented groups by the year 2030.
The project also involves the communications agency On Our Radar.
Pasha, from Swansea, has Down’s Syndrome and said that it was about showing what disabled people were capable of: “I want people to know that I am more than just an extra chromosome. I have the same wants and needs as friends my age.”
Over two years, eight young people will be trained in the skills needed to be a Citizen Reporter. They in turn will recruit and train another 60 young disabled people in their communities.
The project is funded by Act for Change Fund, which is a £3.6 million partnership between the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for organisations supporting young people working for change.
The Fund provides resources for young people to challenge social injustice, find ways of overcoming inequality and give voice to issues they are experiencing.
Josie Verghese, Head of BBC Young Reporters is one of those sharing her experience of journalism and life as a disabled person with the young reporters. Josie said: “I am delighted to share my youth journalism experience, as well as my own personal insights as a disabled person, with the next generation of storytellers. I am looking forward to championing them, their skills and the authentic and original stories I have no doubt they are going to discover.”