Meet the new Young Change Makers

Virgin Money
Virgin Money
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
31 January 2023

11 young people have been appointed to the second Young Change Makers Fellowship Programme, which helps develop entrepreneurship and influence social change in young adults.

The Young Change Makers Fellowship Programme was launched in 2021 by Virgin Money Foundation in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fun and Northern Soul. It supports young people aged between 18 and 26 from across the North East and North West of England, and Yorkshire and the Humber who are passionate about changing society for the better. Young adults from across each region are invited to apply to become a Young Change Maker and share their ideas for how they want to improve their local community.

The 11 Young Change Makers chosen following the latest round of applications will receive expert support, funding and learning opportunities to bring their idea to life. This includes a grant of up to £10,000 as well as a travel grant to cover the cost of researching similar community projects, a learn programme and a mentor to help them develop as a leader.

Each Change Maker will also benefit from working with skilled Virgin Money team members to help develop their business model. Additionally, they’ll get the opportunity to learn from other social entrepreneurs who have created successful initiatives, they’ll work alongside a peer group of young people committed to creating real change, and they will be linked to other organisations to help them to put their plan into action.

Three of the new Young Change Makers are Emma Redfearn from Sheffield, Dami Fawehinmi from Newcastle and Farhad Gohar from Manchester.

Emma Redfearn
Virgin Money

Emma Redfearn, 24, is working with young people to help break down the stigma around mental health. In collaboration with Sheffield University, Emma delivers workshops and talks around subjects such as: imposter syndrome, managing anxiety after graduating and looking after their mental health whilst growing a career. She is also working with college students to help them understand all of the different opportunities they can get involved in to launch professional careers.

“My social enterprise, Studio Self-Made is all about empowering young people to launch their creative careers in the north - through entrepreneurship, freelance or employment,” Emma said. “I am excited to develop my idea further through this programme and understand myself as a creative leader of this initiative. I can already see the benefits of being a part of this experience and connecting to a network of inspiring change makers.”

Dami Fawehinmi
Virgin Money

23-year-old Dami Fawehinmi, set up Navii Media in 2021 as an alternative to the ‘often white’ media, to appeal to audiences in the LGBTQ+ community, the Black and People Of Colour community. Dami is also working with people with mental health issues and disabilities and those from working class backgrounds with a hope that they can bring happiness through authenticity and lived experiences.

Dami said: “I created Navii media, a platform for marginalised folks and creatives to take up space and exist unapologetically within art, events and media, in 2020 during the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic when community was needed more than ever. I wanted to create spaces online and in person that championed what it meant to be from a marginalized group, to love who you are, find others like you and create pieces that tell your story.

“In just a couple of years we've run a festival, several events and workshops online and in-person, hosted talks in schools, created our own competition, art pieces, art events, weekly clubs, and more. I applied for the Virgin Money Foundation Fellowship because I wanted to connect with a specific community of people, specifically those that understood what it was like to create change but also to share and learn. I’m hoping this opportunity is going to open doors for me and people like me to be heard, seen and cared for.”

Farhad Gohar
Virgin Money

Dami FawehinmiFarhard Gohar, 18 is working on Potential, a yet to be established organisation which will work with young people aged 13 to 25 providing education and development programmes. Its mission is to help young people use their entrepreneurial skills for self-improvement.

Farhad said: “I am working to stop young people in my area turning to crime. I want to reach out, share my own experiences and teach young people that there is another way, using their entrepreneurial skills. During the Fellowship I want to launch and grow my organisation, hopefully get more funding and be able to introduce it to schools.”

Nancy Doyle-Hall, executive director of Virgin Money Foundation, commented: “The Young Change Makers programme was born out of a recognition that very often the people who know best the issues that need to be tackled in a neighbourhood are the young people living in these communities. We believed that there were young people out there with the talent, passion and insight to create lasting change in our society but who would need resource, investment in their leadership and time to develop their initiative.

“We were excited to see who would apply to the second round of the fund. The 11 Change Makers are working to tackle a broad range of social issues. We look forward to seeing their social ventures develop and positive change being created in the communities that need it most.”

Visit the Virgin Money Foundation to find out more.