8 years of young people achieve the unbelievable with Element Society
16th June 2021
This June Element Society turns 8 years old. They’ve kept quiet about how much young people do for Sheffield… until now. With over 200,000 hours of volunteering under their belt it's time to applaud young Sheffielders.
Element Society are a non-profit organisation based in Sheffield that supports young people to achieve the unbelievable. They do this by delivering programmes and workshops designed to empower young people to make a positive change in their communities, raise their aspirations and become role models to their peers.
Youth-led means they do what young people ask them to do. Their team has empowered over 4,200 young people to change their lives and their communities since opening in 2013. Young people on Element’s programmes have completed nearly 200,000 volunteer work hours, making a difference in Sheffield’s lives and communities. This vital voluntary action has contributed at least £1.7 million of impact to the city.
What we do
There are so many projects at Element because young people are full of ideas on how to make the world a better place.
You can find some of the works of young people have produced on our Spotify, YouTube and the Element website (www.elementsociety.co.uk).
Despite testing circumstances from 2020, Element Society has continued to help young people in many ways, and has adapted to new ways of working in order to allow them to do so.
As soon as lockdown measures were first introduced, Element launched the #RonaDiaries blog on its website, which allowed young people to submit their thoughts, fears, feelings and advice about the pandemic and the circumstances it forced us to live in, in whatever form they felt comfortable with.
Around the time restrictions were being introduced, Street Reach, an outreach project funded by The Home Office, was approaching its finishing date. The project saw youth workers go into communities in Sheffield where young people are at high risk of getting involved with or falling victim to gang, gun and knife crime. Sentiment from the project was that there is little shortage of aspiration amongst the young people, but more a shortage of opportunity available for free. When the project was cut short due to Covid, the funders allowed the remaining money to be spent on audio and video recording equipment, which will allow Element to help teach young people these sorts of skills in future programmes.
This equipment quickly came in useful when the Blue Dot and Red Light programmes (where young people volunteer to run workshops in schools about supporting friends struggling with poor mental health, and spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation) found they were unable to go into schools to deliver due to schools needing to stay as Covid-safe as possible and reducing visitors to a minimum. But these projects, designed by young people for young people, found a new way to engage the young people - using the new recording equipment to digitise their workshops so it could reach as many young people as possible. You can download these workshops for free here, or view them on Element Society’s YouTube channel.
While lockdown restrictions were eased over Summer and Autumn, Element was able to run adapted versions of the NCS Programme; Keep Doing Good (Summer) and Autumn Activities. These programmes allowed young people to come into the building to learn new skills and run social action projects in an environment that staff ensured was as Covid-safe as possible. All said, over 100 young people have been involved with Element Society at their HQ in the city centre since March 2020, and between them they’ve run 11 Social Action Projects and had 0 cases of Coronavirus.
But it doesn’t stop there! While all this was going on, Tashinga Matewe continued to run the Girls Collective (a group aimed at supporting and raising aspirations of Muslim girls in the city, by doing sessions online), Jasmine Watson started working with Chilypep on the collaborative Gen Z project, and Tes Awoke launched Youth Force, a project which sees young people run their own online campaign for Element which encourages young people to follow social distancing guidelines, download the NHS app, and help people isolate.
Now, as (fingers crossed) vaccines are helping us out of the pandemic, Element Society has launched the Community Responders project in order to give young people who want to help Sheffield recover from the Pandemic an opportunity to do so.
A few of the things our team are up to right now:
- Chef’s Circle - Teaching young people how to cook for their families and paying for their food shops
- Youth Force – A young person-lead campaign to help stop the spread of Covid and help those isolating
- Providing Kickstart jobs to 10s of young people
- Opening a pizza place called Make Dough – ran by young Sheffielders
- Sharing digital learning materials for free to help young people with their Mental Health – Blue Dot Project
- Community Responders - Training people across the city to lead their own community projects to help their local community recover from the pandemic.
- Girls Collective - An empowerment group for young women to increase aspirations, break barriers and empower them to realise their true potential
Sponsors and supporters
Element Society couldn’t do all of this without the support of the people of Sheffield and a whole host of partners and supporters including:
- Yorkshire Building Society
- BBC Radio Sheffield
- Bettys & Taylors Family Fund
- Big Brother Burngreave / Reach Up Youth
- Blend Kitchen
- City Taxis
- D'Oyley Carte Project
- English Football League Trust
- Forced Entertainment
- Home Office
- People’s Postcode Lottery
- Rite Trax / Plot 22
- Sheffield Business Together
- Sheffield City Council
- Sheffield Hallam University
- Sheffield Town Trust
- Sheffield Young Carers
- Social Investment Business
- South Yorkshire Community Foundation
- South Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner
- The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust
- The National Lottery Fund
- The Schools of Sheffield
- Uni of Sheffield
Element is putting together a plan to make Collab – an independent city centre venue that provides young people with a safe place to come together, grow and give back to the city. This journey will bring together partners from all sectors who believe young people can achieve the unbelievable.
Get involved – email of CEO, Chris Hill on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0114 2999 214
“Young people want to make change, and Element gives them an opportunity to be taken seriously.”