Aspiring young change makers across the North of England are being given the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurship to drive real change in their communities.

The Young Change Makers Fellowship Programme has been launched by Virgin Money Foundation with the National Lottery Community Fund and Northern Soul to find change makers - young people aged between 18-25 from across the North East, the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber who are passionate about changing society for the better.

The programme, which was designed with the support of the Foundation’s Youth Advisors and is unlike anything currently available in the North of England, is inviting applications to develop a social initiative that will drive positive change in a local community. There are up to 20 places available over the next year across two six month programmes

Successful change makers will receive expert support, funding and learning opportunities to bring their idea to life. This includes a bursary of up to £10,000, as well as a travel grant to cover the cost of researching similar community projects, a learning programme and mentor to help them to develop as a leader. They’ll also have the opportunity to learn from social entrepreneurs who’ve created successful initiatives, work alongside a peer group of young people committed to creating real change and will be linked to other organisations to help them to put their plan into action. The change makers will also help choose the next group of young people who will be taking part.

Virgin Money Foundation’s Youth Advisers have been instrumental in structuring the content of the Fellowship. Josie Ball, a university student from Gateshead who helped design the programme and Tessy Idemudia, a sixth form student, from Newcastle, are both delighted to see the programme finally launch.

Josie said: “I became involved as a Youth Advisor as it felt like an ideal role for me, where I could engage with like-minded people while also making a positive impact. The Young Change Makers Fellowships programme will be an amazing opportunity for enthusiastic young adults to develop their ideas, with training and guidance, and make meaningful change.

“Too often, young people have to compromise on the focus when becoming involved in social action, however with this Fellowship programme they will have free reign to choose what they are most passionate about, which will always yield better results for them and their community.”

Tessy added: "I am really excited to see the Young Change Makers Fellowship programme launch. It's a programme that will support young people to make a difference and help their local community while developing their skills as a leader.”

Ruth Ibegbuna, Director at Northern Soul, said: “I'm proud and excited to be involved in this new Youth Fellowship programme. Trusting and supporting young people to transform their communities with fresh thinking and energetic new solutions to the issues they see and feel every day is exactly the right response to current UK challenges. This programme will support talented young social entrepreneurs who are driven by a need to better support the communities they love. Working alongside this group of young people will be a great privilege as they research and then reach beyond their own communities to connect with those leading change elsewhere.”

Nancy Doyle-Hall, Executive Director of Virgin Money Foundation, said: “The Youth Fellowship programme has so much positive potential not only for the young people taking part but also their local community. The community in which we live plays a huge part in each of our lives and the programme will help young people create the change they want to see in theirs.

“So many young people have fresh and innovative ideas and are determined to see inequalities in our society uprooted. By providing funding, training and support to a cohort of Young Change Makers we aim to harness that raw energy, support their leadership development and incubate their ideas, in doing so accelerating positive change in local communities across the North of England.”