This was a youth-led volunteering project providing young people aged 16-25 with opportunities to influence policy and practice. Click here to visit the vinspired website.                                                        


The Youth Empowerment Project was a three year youth-led initiative that aimed to empower young people from across London to influence policy and practice through volunteering opportunities that included training, research and advocacy work. This project was aimed at young people to build their skills, knowledge and confidence in becoming active citizens and promoting the real youth voice to policy makers.

This project was funded by v, the national youth volunteering charity, and was delivered in partnership with the following organisations:

  • Law Centres Federation
  • Race on the Agenda
  • London Civic Forum
  • Women’s Resource Centre
  • Institute for Global Ethics (UK)
  • The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Consortium
  • Children’s Rights Alliance for England

Project aims

This project aimed to build bridges between young people from different backgrounds and encourage them to find out what united them. Through the volunteering opportunities this project enabled young people to develop team working skills, become role models and get direct experience of the third sector by engaging in activities that addressed social inequalities and injustices.

This project was aimed at young people from the following backgrounds:

  • Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME)
  • Young offenders or those at risk of offending
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender young people (LGBT)
  • Young disabled people
  • Those not in employment, education or training (NEET)

The support programme available to all volunteers included:

  • Free Human Rights training
  • Free Research Methods training
  • Ethical Fitness training
  • Media or other training based on young people’s needs

Through this project young people earned the following awards:

  • vfifty award: for 50 hours of volunteering
  • vimpact award: 100 hours of volunteering looking at your impacts on the community
  • Youth Achievement Awards: Bronze, Silver and Gold. 

Project updates, publications and resources archive

February 2011 update:Two volunteers from the vinvolved Youth Empowerment Project attended an exclusive event on 14th February with v’s Chief Executive, Terry Ryall. The event was the official re-launch of the Big Society by David Cameron. Shruti Morzaria and Clare Askew both attended the event to learn more about the proposals, and to ask questions about it. A full description of the event and what these volunteers thoughts about it can be found here.  
January 2011 update: This New Year IARS will be bringing to an end the Youth Empowerment Project in March 2011. Currently we have been reviewing our gathered evidence, stories and work to provide a comprehensive overview of the impacts this project has had. V took a big risk in investing a large grant of over £150,000 in IARS as a small, youth-led organisation as we were back at the beginning of 2008. Since the launch of the Youth Empowerment Project that year we have engaged with hundreds of young people, produced top quality research reports, and really put ourselves on the map in the Third Sector. Since 2008 the YEP’s young volunteers have produced several editions of the Youth Voice Journal, carried out research on the importance of empowering young marginalised people, investigated the legal capability of young people as well as attended numerous events. In terms of infrastructure, the v grant allowed us to hire staff, rent office space, recruit scores of volunteers and funded several Youth into Policy events. We would like to thank v for having the courage to fund us which has resulted in a bigger, better organisation that always has young people at its heart. v’s support has been invaluable to us as a staff team and as an organisation that puts the youth voice into policy. 
October 2010 update:This month our volunteers have been working hard to produce a short film about young people’s needs around Legal Capability. They have been filming their opinions and the findings from IARS’ Measuring Legal Capability Report (2009). This film will then be shown at the  Public Legal Education conference in Montreal, Canada later this month. In other news the young journalists for the Youth Voice Journal next special edition have submitted all of their articles. The articles all centre around core issues around the Paralympics 2012 Games. 
September 2010 update:It has been a great month for the Youth Empowerment Project. We have just completed our latest monitoring report to v and IARS have now successfully delivered over 150 volunteering opportunities for our entire 3 year vinvolved project. Over the entire life of this project the young volunteers have produced some excellent youth-led research and have held several key conferences where volunteers have presented their research findings to policy makers. The YEP project has allowed hundreds of young people to engage with social policy issues and with decision makers.In the last six months the YEP has had particular success in engaging the young journalist volunteers with young NEET disabled people. Through these volunteering sessions, we were able to bridge the gaps between these two groups in their understanding of disability and the importance of getting different youth voices represented. The results of this work will be published early 2011 in the next special edition of the Youth Voice Journal.IARS will be celebrating at the end of the year with a competition for best volunteer with a grand prize. We would like to thank all the young people who have participated in our vinvolved project over the past 3 years. 
August 2010 update:This month the Youth Voice Journalists have been working hard to complete their fieldwork interviews with young people across different parts of the capital. This has included interviewing young people from the Young LeadersProgramme for the London 2012 Games. The volunteers are currently writing their articles for Issue 4 of Youth Voice.The Youth Empowerment Project volunteers have also been busy preparing for a meeting with the Tom Ball, Deputy Private Secretary to Stephen Rimmer, Director General for the Crime and Policing Group of the Home Office. This meeting took place on Friday 27th August and a full story about this visit will be published on the IARS homepage soon.
July 2010 update:During July, IARS worked in close partnership with the Tower Project, which is based in Tower Hamlets. Through this partnership IARS has delivered part-time and short-term volunteering opportunities to young disabled people.  These young people have been working on a research project focusing on the 2012 Paralympics Games.  In this way these young people have developed research skills, gathered evidence and contributed their own opinions to the next Youth Voice Journal Special Edition.Halima Khanom Youth Empowerment Project intern has just achieved her vfifty award. This award documents 50 hours of volunteering for young people that have participated in projects voluntarily. All the young people involved in the Youth Voice Journal project have signed up towww.vinspired.comand are currently working towards their vfifty awards.
June 2010 update:The Youth Empowerment Project has recently recruited new volunteer journalists to work on the next special edition of the Youth Voice Journal. Meha Patel (age 17) and Farah Sadiq (age 17) are working together to write an opinion piece article. The Youth Empowerment Project also has a new intern, Halima Khanom, who is also working with the IARS staff team to produce the next special edition of the Youth Voice Journal.The Youth Empowerment Project is currently working with the Tower Project in Tower Hamlets. We are running weekly volunteering sessions with young disabled people, promoting the need to hear all young people’s views to inform policy and practice. These young people are all taking part in informing the evidence for the next Youth Vouce Journal edtion.For any information on the progress of projects, or to ask about current volunteering opportunities please contact Alex:



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.