Katie Seymour

Throughout the last couple of years of High School and during Sixth Form I have worked as a volunteer for Changing Our Lives. I am a keen photographer and art student, so having the opportunity to work with disabled young people and create leadership books charting their progress was not to be missed! Working alongside young people my age and bringing their stories to life is really important to me as it raises awareness of the limitless potential of disabled young people. It’s important we all realise that whatever disability, these young people are first and foremost young people. My work on the leadership books celebrates this view point.

This opportunity has given me a chance to broaden my awareness and make friends along the way. It also enabled me to explore my creativity as I designed the layout and aesthetic of the leadership book, took the photographs and interviewed the young people.

Zawar Patel

I volunteered as a mentor on the Rights for All Leadership programme. I was honoured to be able to take part in this programme mentoring young leaders from black and minority ethnic communities. I valued the chance to be able to share my experience and to work with the two young people I was paired with.

It was important to me to see how these two young people had overcome their own challenges to pursue their interests. Their confidence and drive and involvement in a wide range of roles really impressed me. We worked together to build their confidence and resilience and discussed their plans to become leaders and role models.

Working on this programme really developed my own learning and understanding. I had to learn to engage effectively with my mentees, to actively listen and encourage and empower them. I saw their passion, drive and commitment in the areas they were interested in. I saw the value and importance of building independence and self-belief and of having goals to work towards. I took away the value of lived experience and applied that to my role.

 I think it was important for the young leaders to see mentors like me who were from similar backgrounds to them. For them to be able to believe in their own potential and to have the ambition to follow through on their plans. As a mentor I hope was able to share my experiences and knowledge effectively and to share ways of overcoming challenges and maintaining a positive outlook.