Big changes start locally

Young Change Makers

Meet the first nine Virgin Money Foundation Young Change Makers

Max

Max lives in Moss Side, South Manchester. He is passionate about achieving social change and inspiring other young people in his community to step into positive possibilities.

After the devastating attack on Manchester Arena in 2017, Max responded to the rise in Islamophobia across the city by creating 500 origami roses and encouraging other young people to be involved in focusing on love, not hate and sharing these symbols of a peaceful multi-faith future. The campaign went viral and was supported across the city.

He enjoys organising community gatherings that bring together different ethnic minorities as Moss Side contains people from around the world. Max has delivered training sessions to young people around the dangers of knife crime and he is using his Virgin Money Young Change Makers Fellowship to launch a new gardening initiative entitled, ‘Clean Cuts’ to employ local young people to maintain the gardens of their neighbours, earn a reasonable wage and also collectively work to improve the look and feel of the community.

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Kobie

Kobie is an aspiring Ph.D. student and social entrepreneur from Toxteth, Liverpool. From a young age Kobie recognised the social injustices in his community with prejudice, discrimination, bias and an apparent lack of opportunities all too common.

Kobie’s dream is to help even out the socio-cultural landscape and provide equal opportunities for individuals who would not have them otherwise.

Kobie wants to be a role-model and help to inspire individuals to change their lives and steer them on a positive trajectory. With a little guidance, support and funding, Kobie will support individuals in his community through his new organisations: Against the Odds.

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Louisa-Rose

Louisa is a female filmmaker based in Bradford. In January 2021 she set up her own grassroots production company - Northern Fortress Films. Her main aim was to shine a spotlight on Northern talent, giving Northern voices the chance to tell their stories. Diversity and representation are at the core of all the films made at Northern Fortress Films and Louisa is aiming to change the culture of the industry through keeping these values at the forefront of her filmmaking.

Louisa is working with the Foundation to widen the horizons of young people in Bradford, educate them on the Film & TV industry and the careers available to them and provide hands on experience and credits that will help them to get their foot on the career ladder.

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Ella-Grace

Ella-Grace grew up in the North West of England starting her career at a young age as a TV actress and dancer. Her passion to be a Change Maker derives from seeing a lack of opportunity in her home town and the social and economic impact this has on individuals.

Through the Fellowship, Ella-Grace will expand on current delivery at Streetwise and EGG (Performing Arts) Lancashire CIC; aspiring to create change and help grow a support system in the local community through its youth clubs, theatre school, food bank, holiday club, outreach service, adult wellbeing service, forestry school, mother and baby support group and so much more.

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Roukagia

Roukagia is Manchester based law student of Syrian and Ukrainian heritage. She is passionate about tackling Islamophobia and amplifying the voices of women from ethnic minority backgrounds, to provide them with access routes into leadership positions in our society.

Over the last few years, Roukagia has been pursuing her passion of social justice and change with youth and women’s organisations in the city of Manchester and nationwide. She has worked with various individuals and organisations, including Mayor Andy Burnham, former Speaker John Bercow and MEPs from the European Parliament, to represent young people and women’s voices in UK decision making.

As part of this Fellowship, Roukagia will be dismantling stereotypes and advising local employers and leaders on issues of diversity and discrimination concerning Muslim women in Manchester.

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Sarah

Sarah, a mum to two boys, grew up in a small rural village called Highfield where everyone knows each other. Having children gave Sarah the drive to help others in her local area. After co-founding an organisation which was set up to reduce isolation and loneliness based in Gateshead, she soon realised that those same struggles were very evident on her own estate.

In September 2020 Sarah opened OurLives. Gateshead CIC, its main aim is to raise community wellbeing, be a friend to the community and listen with an open heart. Empowering the local community to make changes to their wellbeing will help improve the area. OurLives works hard to ensure the people in the local community are heard and not forgotten and gives them a safe space where they matter.

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Gage

Gage is a writer and director, as well as a freelance film programmer, and the managing director of Oxygen Films: a multi-award winning, non-profit, community-interest production company based in Leeds.

Gage's role involves working with international charities, young creatives and LGBTQ* organisations around the world to create challenging motion pictures that facilitate and encourage open discussion on some of the most difficult aspects of a modern LGBTQ* community. Their latest feature film had its World Premiere in Leicester Square and US Premiere a stone’s throw away from the Hollywood Sign. Through the Fellowship Gage wants to grow better infrastructure for the screen sector in the North and secure consistent funding for underrepresented film makers to tell their authentic stories.

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Savannah

Savannah started volunteering at a young age, initially with Teesside Hospice. Through her volunteering she visited Nepal to refurbish a cancer hospice following the earthquake as part of her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. She also spent time trekking in the Annapurna Mountains, and later trekking to Everest Base Camp, which led her to joining the British Army. However, at 25 Savannah was medically discharged.

Savannah is passionate about finding solutions to the rising number of veteran mental health issues and suicide rates, by creating easier pathways to accessing support. She is also interested in biomedical science, including global inequalities around medicine and health and is passionate about greater disability inclusion, human rights and sustainability. Through the Fellowship, Savannah is working to establish UrBackUP Foundation.

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Jaiden

Jaiden is an activist from Salford. He started in the space of youth leadership at the age of 11, leading alongside many other individuals and organisations. He is currently working alongside Ashoka to design and implement new approaches to youth co-leadership.

Jaiden’s main passions lie in inspiring new models of youth leadership, improving mental wellbeing and providing more opportunity, access and support for working-class young people to thrive.

Through Outliers, Jaiden hopes to encourage and support young males to unlock their leadership potentials, re-define what it really means to “be a man” and to work towards activating a new understanding of success.

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