An event to celebrate the success of the Bradford Community Champions Scheme was held at City Hall in its first year.

The initiative was set up by Gill Arnold, the Deputy Chairman of the West Yorkshire Magistrates Branch, to bring local people together from different walks of life to visit and contribute work to schools, by talking with pupils and explaining how they have made a success of their lives.

The purpose of the event is to broaden horizons and raise aspirations of young people, supporting them to make the important link between their education and their futures.  The importance of school life and hard work is highlighted with an emphasis on every lesson being significant in shaping their future.

A number of the Champions hail from very diverse backgrounds, with some having experienced their own personal difficulties and hurdles in life. Inspirational leaders and individuals are invited, who went through different career paths but have been successful in their field.

Supported by Bradford Council’s Education Convenant initiative, the event also launched the next year of champions’ activities and introduced new champions who have come on board having seen the value of the fantastic work being carried out.

It was set up by Gill Arnold, the Deputy Chairman of the West Yorkshire Magistrates Branch, who felt it would be great for young people to see success stories of local people who have got where they are today through hard work.

Over the last year academic year the Bradford Community Champions have interacted with over 1,500 young people, attended assemblies at Carlton Bolling College where 260+ students are attending, an additional five assemblies which included primary schools, and the TRACKS pupil referral unit for children with mental health needs. Inspiring Bradford also collaborated with Bradford Community Champions to host a number of events such as the Primary Futures ‘What’s my line?’ activity at a number of schools where children try to work out the Champion’s occupation, helping to challenge stereotypes young people often have based on gender and ethnicity.

A highlighted example of  how the scheme has had an impact was given by Headteacher Heather Lacey of Shirley Manor Primary Academy:

“On the 20th March we held our first ‘Future Me’ day. The aim of the day was to raise aspirations and discover what our children’s hopes and dreams for the future are. We had a variety of visitors from a wide range of professions ranging from a hairdresser to a marine biologist.  We wanted the children to make connections between the subjects they liked to the careers they could have in the future.  This was done using a career software package where the children discovered the types of jobs they may enjoy such as: a jockey, a GP, a farrier and a diplomat, to name but a few.

“The children particularly enjoyed listening and quizzing our visitors as they went into classes. There was a real buzz about the day and it would not have been as successful without the support from the Bradford Community Champions. The children are still talking about it now and we are looking forward to building on this next year.”

Councillor Imran Khan, portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said “We are really grateful to all of our Community Champions for their on-going time and support and for inspiring the future generation of young people in our City.  I look forward to meeting all our Champions and to finding out how I can continue to support the fantastic work they are doing in our schools.”

“The Bradford Community Champions scheme is a great example of how local people can share their stories and wealth of experience to inspire our young people to make a difference in their lives.  It was great to meet them all on 14 November and we will continue to support this scheme and cascade the fantastic work they do with all our young people, partners and stakeholders.”