In day-to-day life, it’s easy to get stuck in our own routines. We forget to seek out new perspectives and challenges, and we don’t always take notice of what’s happening within our local areas. So, when idhl gave me the opportunity to take part in this year’s Leeds150 programme - a global campaign by Common Purpose - I immediately knew I wanted to accept.
I’m Becky Jackson and I joined idhl in July as a Marketing Graduate. July was also when I moved to Leeds, so I knew very little of what this challenge would entail or who would be involved.
All I really knew was the programme would bring together young people across Leeds to address the following; “how do we act together to transform Leeds into a cleaner, greener place for all?”.
I had assumed, with the first two days being delivered online, that I would mostly be listening and learning about Leeds and sustainability issues, with limited active involvement.
I was wrong.
Within the first 30 minutes, we were thrown into honest and open discussions.
The opinions shared were varied, as we all came from different backgrounds and had different life experiences. The wider perspective this gave was extremely valuable as it disrupted my way of thinking. Something that would be continued throughout the programme.
To end the first day, we had sessions with key leaders across the city. In small break-out rooms, we were able to hear the leaders’ stories and how they’ve trialed different initiatives in their specific fields to make Leeds a greener place. Knowing the problems and barriers they have faced was definitely something we all considered in the final day when building solutions to the challenge.
On day two we continued to build a bigger picture of the issues we faced as a city.
Councilor Jonathon Prior came to talk about initiatives that Leeds had already started and plans for the future. The session was interactive, enabling us to ask questions and build our expertise through the knowledge he had.
Next up were the immersion sessions.
In small groups, we met with key stakeholders connected to the challenge. These included larger organisations like Leeds City Council, NHS Digital, and First Bus as well as smaller organisations like Incredible Edible. This was the immersion group I opted for.
The passion that came from the immersion group speaker really shifted my mindset. He was full of positivity and a can-do attitude. Rather than focusing on the issues, the focus was on the solutions. This way of thinking was something I took with me into the final day. Think simple and don’t overcomplicate.
Day one allowed me to get a feel for the challenge and begin building relationships with my peers. Day two was all about building my problem-solving skills by experiencing the challenge from the perspective of key stakeholders. The third day was when we began finding solutions to the challenge and I have to say, I felt like I was in an episode of The Apprentice.
In total there were six groups, each with their own mentor and tasked with developing their own practical and actionable solution.
In the space of five hours, we had to develop a thought-out idea in response to the challenge, build a pitch, write a 200-word introduction and create an accompanying video to explain the idea. This was then presented to a panel of experts and the other groups.
With such a short timeframe, this was an intense and challenging scenario but also a rewarding one that taught me patience, communication, and time management.
Overall, I came away from Leeds150 with a new perspective on the city in which I live and work. I built connections with other like-minded young people across varying sectors, I felt empowered and listened to by key decision-makers within the city, and my confidence has grown massively.
Moving forward, I am continuing to work with fellow participants, to make our solutions to the challenge a reality.
You can find out more about the Leeds150 programme and apply to take part here.