Villiers Park: A Year in Review

19-12-2023
That’s a wrap on 2023! We certainly have had a busy year and here’s just a snapshot of some of the things we have been up to. 
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Our 2023 Wrapped!

Our first in-person residential since 2020 

We held our first in-person residential since the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing together 86 Future Leaders from 14 schools at the University of Bath for an unforgettable four day experience. This was an amazing opportunity for young people from across the country to connect, jump into university life and work together on group research projects. 

One of our Tyneside Future Leaders said:

“The nights staying away, being thrown together and being in a different setting makes it easier to connect with other people”. 

1Future Leaders at the University of Bath Residential

A peek into British politics at the House of Commons

Five Future Leaders had the exclusive opportunity to take a glimpse into what it is like to work at the House of Commons. They spent the week living and working in London as part of The House of Commons Chamber and Committees Team Social Mobility Work Experience Scheme.

Deborah Richardson, Villiers Park Programmes Director, accompanied students to London: 

"It was a fantastic experience for our Future Leaders. This is a brilliant way to observe how our Future Leaders developed their understanding and knowledge of British politics and also their confidence in being able to formulate, articulate and communicate their own political viewpoints”. 

2Abdul, Rida, Abigail, Laila and Clara with The Rt Hon. Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP

Eye-opening university insight days  

University insight days widen young people’s horizons and give them the chance to step onto a university campus, meet student ambassadors and learn more about different higher education options including apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships.

Thanks to Anglia Ruskin University, the University of Northumbria, Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of Gloucestershire, University of Kent, University of Brighton and the University of Sunderland for hosting inspirational insight days for Villiers Park students in the last year. Students tried out an amazing range of courses, including paramedic science, robotics and marine engineering. 

3Future Leaders from Norwich on a campus tour at Anglia Ruskin University

Celebration events across the country 

In the summer we were thrilled to recognise the incredible progress of Future Leaders in each of our regional hubs, in Hastings and Bexhill, Swindon and Wiltshire, Tyneside and Norwich. We welcomed friends, families and supporters to cheer on Future Leaders who themselves took centre stage, as hosts and award-winners

One of our Future Leaders, Abigail, gave an inspiring speech about her experience and the impact of the Future Leaders Programme: 

“Whenever we as young people feel inadequate, or like we don't fit in, we shouldn't strive to fit in, but we should strive to embrace our differences. I'm so grateful to Villiers Park for giving me this opportunity because I feel like I've gained so much knowledge.”

5Future Leader, Abigail, giving a speech at the Tyneside Celebration Event

Inspiring young people with green careers 

Since last year’s launch of Sustainable Futures, a partnership between WWF, Founders4Schools and Villiers Park, we have been running a range of workshops and green careers, including courses on biodiversity, conservation and ecology. Young people consider their own green values and sustainable routes to their career goals through our in-person and online sessions. We are looking forward to kicking off 2024 with Sustainable Futures courses for Years 11-13 and CPD for educators.

6Future Leaders from Sprowston in Norwich at a Sustainable Futures workshop

1000km Challenge fundraiser 

In October, colleagues set out to cover 1,000 km, the distance between Villiers Park’s four regional hubs. With everyone setting their own goals and getting stuck in, we not only completed but exceeded our goal, with a grand total of 1592 km covered! 

The team took on the challenge by walking, running, swimming and cycling with several four-legged friends involved too! Amy Belham, Progression Coach in Norwich, pledged to run a half-marathon. Unfortunately, Amy injured herself before the day of the run, but that wasn’t going to stop her! After recovery, Amy set out to complete her run on October 31st 

“I ran a half marathon around Norwich solo. Much harder than doing a race with all cheering and support and other runners but I did it”. 

7Villiers Park Colleagues and Olga the dog contributing to the 1000km Challenge

Inspiring employer visits 

This year, Future Leaders enjoyed inspirational office visits to technology consultancy company Sopra Steria in London and Edinburgh. Here, students learned about the different roles in a tech company and met Sopra Steria employees, who shared their insights on careers. 

In November 20 students from Sprowston Community High School in Norwich visited the JLL office as part of Sustainable Futures, learning about sustainability in the workplace and hearing from some inspiring apprentices. 

On both days our Future Leaders were shown the realities of working in a modern office, with many students were surprised by how inclusive and dynamic the offices felt with lots of focus on culture and wellbeing.

8Future Leaders from Tyneside at Sopra Steria Offices in Edinburgh

We welcomed new colleagues and Trustees 

This year, we welcomed Gaby Sumner into the permanent position of Chief Executive. Gaby and the team were joined by new colleagues across our Programmes, Finance, Fundraising and Communications teams and we say a very warm welcome to Andy Eason, Mary Csillag, Caroline Treacher, Katie Byford, Sue Duma and Bronagh Sumner.

We were also delighted to be joined by new Trustees Mumin Humayun, Negar Mihanyar, Anusha Nirmalananthan and Harriet Riches, who bring a wealth of experience to our Board. Our new colleagues and Trustees will help us to continue delivering programmes that make a difference to young people’s lives and reach even more young people in 2024! 

9Villiers Park new colleagues and Trustees

Thank you 

What a year it’s been! Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported us this year, our Future Leaders and their families and carers, the schools and sixth-form colleges we partner with, the charities and third-sector organisations we collaborate with, and our university, corporate and philanthropic supporters. Thank you for your amazing support. See you in 2024! 


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