This international project run from in 2009 and 2010, fosucing on setting up a regional youth-led research network in the Middle East. IARS was commissioned from the British Council to support them in setting up the network and train its first members of young Arab researchers. The project was run in partnership with Counterpoint, the London School of Economics and IPPR. Our work was reported to the British Parliament on the 19 July 2012


In 2009, IARS was asked by the British Council to help them set up the Young Arab Research Network (YARN) in the Middle East. The purpose of YARN was to be a regional youth-led network that undertakes research focussing on the most relevant priority issues for youth of the region.  YARN also aimed to work with a range of existing adult-led research bodies to strengthen the youth perspective to their research activities and to help disseminate their findings to youth and others in an accessible format.

YARN’s vision was to be recognised nationally, regionally and internationally for its work with a generation of young Arabs who, through collaboration, would produce powerful, credible research about youth, provide a reliable and respected evidence base to be used effectively by young people and others to make decisions that were in young people’s interests. 

 Project aims

  • To build a regional youth-led research network that reaches diverse groups of young people who want to play an active role in the generation and dissemination of knowledge concerning youth;
  • To provide training, guidance and support to enable young people to undertake high quality research to investigate the issues that affect them;
  • To act as a network for its members enabling them to exchange ideas that will further empower them to as researchers;
  • To collaborate with similar networks in the region, the UK and internationally to share experiences and learning and publish research carried jointly;
  • To build up a virtual research information database / library that makes key research concerning youth more accessible across the region;
  • To create linkages with policy-making institutions nationally and internationally so that they draw on this up-to-date information as evidence when making decisions that  affect youth;
  • To enhance awareness of the ethics of responsible research in the region and to promote the important role of research as evidence for all decision-making and its contribution to  good governance;
  • To establish fund-raising mechanisms that will ensure that the research network is institutionally and financially sustainable after project funding ends.

Project activities and publications

June 2009: IARS’s involvement in the Youth Arab Research Network kicked off in the exciting and buzzing city of Cairo. IARS along with other organisations including the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Institute for Public Policy Research attended the project meetings to provide research and policy expertise to the young Arab researchers. During the project meetings the young researchers decided that the topic they would investigate would be “Arab Identity”. This topic was a powerful statement for a group of young people who felt that they were not often listened to in the worlds of policy and academia and wanted an opportunity to define for themselves who they are. IARS Training and work was evaluated and the report can be found here

December 2009: IARS travelled to Beirut as part of a YARN meeting that brought together young people from different Arab states, including Yemen and Saudi Arabia, who IARS has been working with. The meeting was very exciting and enabled the young researchers from each Arab state to share with the other young people their findings from their research projects on identity. At the meeting IARS held workhops on data analysis and report writing. Workhops were also held by the London School of Economics and Political Science and Institute for Public Policy Research.

June 2010: IARS worked with two research teams of young people in Yemen and Saudi Arabia in partnership with the British Council as part of its Global Change Makers initiative. The Yemen team have now completed their research report on the affect of television on youth identity. This is a unique and original piece of work that investigates what affects that local, regional and international programming has had on their sense of national, regional and global identities. IARS will be working with the British Council, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Institute for Public Policy Research to produce a final report for the YARN to be released in the UK in October and at the World Economic Forum to be held in Morocco.

IARS meeting in Cairo for setting up YARN, 2009


We are Sculpt

IARS International Institute to operate as Sculpt

*Charity CEO available for interview – details in notes 

A UK-based youth charity today changes its operating name from the IARS International Institute to Sculpt. 

IARS is an international NGO that’s been working to empower young people to forge a fairer society for over 20 years. Their work is guided and evaluated by young people themselves.  

Over the last 20 years, IARS has delivered more than 70 successful projects that have addressed real problems that young people face, in areas such as: 

  • Gender discrimination 
  • Violence against women and girls 
  • Supporting young people to find work 
  • Creating green and sustainable business 
  • Promoting collaboration among young people across the world and much more. 

In 2021, with the world changing rapidly and opportunities for their work shifting, they decided to refresh their purpose and identity, and made the decision to rebrand as Sculpt. 

Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of Sculpt, said: 

‘We are delighted to launch our new brand that speaks to our aim to empower young people to shape their future.

‘We believe that many of today’s young people are facing unjust challenges – economically, environmentally and socially. A fair, sustainable society can only evolve if all young people have the opportunities, the confidence, the ambition and the skills to make their voices heard and propel change in their communities, irrespective of who they are or where they come from.  

‘Our rebrand, like our work, has been guided by research and by young people themselves. As an organisation we base our work on rigorously researched evidence and are led in our approach by our youth advisory board. Their voices and insight are critical to solving the right problems in meaningful ways.’  


Notes to editors:  

Dr. Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of The IARS International Institute is available for interview. Contact Claire directly on: +44(0) 7833 224442  


Sculpt is a UK-based charity providing research, training and work-experience opportunities that empower young people to shape their own futures and those of their communities. 

We work directly with young people, employers and professionals who support young people. All our work is guided by young people themselves and based on carefully researched evidence. We: 

  • Facilitate forums for young people to make their needs and their voices heard. 
  • Publish a magazine by young people to express their perspectives and encourage debate around public policy issues. 
  • Conduct research to uncover young people’s real needs and what works to empower and support them. 
  • Deliver training to build young people’s confidence, skills, ambition, resilience and sense of responsibility, so they can shape their futures and change their communities for the better, as leaders, social entrepreneurs and active participants in civic life. 
  • Deliver training for professionals who work with young people, drawing on our research and expertise. 
  • Engage with employers to facilitate work experience and employment opportunities for young people to develop skills and access diverse jobs. 
  • Facilitate international exchange opportunities to encourage and enable young people to experience and appreciate other cultures, perspectives and ways of life. 

We tackle disempowerment from three angles: working directly with young people to build confidence and skills and their voice, working with professionals who support young people, and working with employers to break down barriers to opportunity.