I was nominated to become an #iwill Ambassador in 2019, but I’ve been volunteering since I was about 14. I had quite a challenging adolescence because of many different reasons. I had a real lack of belonging and high school was really tough for me.
Lanai – #iwill Ambassador
While I was in high school, I started volunteering with a youth social action project called WASSUP (Women Against Sexual Violence Speak Up). Little did I know that small bit of volunteering would change the course of my life.
When I joined the project, I immediately felt safe and at home, like I belonged. It was amazing to find a space where I could directly put my experiences into positive action. I haven’t stopped volunteering since, and I don’t intend to.
I wanted to take my social action to a national scale and got involved with UK Youth’s #YoungAndBlack campaign. The #iwill Black Ambassadors group has been a safe space and has been so valuable for me. The Black Ambassadors ended up working with Teach First to tackle racial injustice in education. That was in some ways healing for me because most of the racism I experienced was during my schooling. Just a few years after I left school, to be sitting with Teach First and informing change was really powerful.
If I could go back in time and show younger me what I’m doing now, I don’t think she would believe it. I was so voiceless just a few years ago. The amount of change that I have been part of in that time, really shows what happens when we listen to young people and when we support them.
One of the biggest things social action has given me is moving from feeling so out of place in my school to helping to change the work of hundreds of teachers, supported by other powerful young people.
Being an #iwill Ambassador has given me a big sense of purpose – I know why I’m here now. I know that as long as I’m making a change for my community, then I’m doing the right thing.
Imagine what could be achieved if every young person was given these opportunities? Join the movement to #UnlockYouthWork for all!
WASSUP is an award-winning youth social action project run by Volunteering Matters, which offers young volunteers the chance to create, develop and shape a local community project and use what they have produced to help others.