Shaping leaders of tomorrow

13 February 2019 | North West England

Shaneil Hodges

Award-winning social action and youth programme helping working class young people of Manchester.

RECLAIM is an award-winning social action and youth leadership programme with a focus on helping working class young people in inner city Manchester.

They run intensive, high impact leadership programmes for 12-15 year olds from working class communities and support them through an Alumni Network until they are 22. They also develop and deliver - alongside the young people - a range of pilot projects and campaigns on issues that affect working class communities. 

Shaneil Hodges was inspired to join their programme after a team from the project came to her school and explained how kids like her could have a voice.

The powerful speech resonated with the teen, so when RECLAIM said they would be interviewing youngsters to join their next free programme, she jumped at the chance.

Shaneil joined a group of 30 students who were chosen for the ‘LEAD Pioneer Programme’ -  an intensive leadership development programme for young teens. 

Shaneil, who is 16 and attends Whalley Range school, explained: “I was doing OK at school but realised I needed more and to be shown my potential. Joining RECLAIM has made me feel challenged in all the right ways.

“They make us realise we are worth more. They want to build strong, confident young people. I was always good at talking but through the programme I have really learnt to communicate properly and give the best I can offer. I also feel listened too and that my views are important.”

Following the programme, Shaneil and a small group formed the Moss Side Girls, and launched the Moss Side Food Festival, a free festival showcasing the diversity of local food. The festival, which ran in 2017, was wholly organised by the girls who handled all the planning and finances. Shaneil and her friends are now working with the next intake on the leadership programme. 

RECLAIM has provided training in leadership and critical thinking to 1,700 teenagers, building self-confidence and aspiration.  

Katie Cosgrave, Alumni lead with RECLAIM said: “A postcode should not dictate your future. When it comes to work, it is sometimes about who you know. If you are working class, you might not be able to open the same doors. We try to bridge that divide.

“We expect these kids to go on and become future leaders, whether that is an MP, or CEO, or community leader."

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