Meet the team
The Civic Journey project is jointly led by staff at the Institute for Community Studies, together with an Advisory Board of 14 16- to 30-year-olds from around the UK. The programme is also directed by six Community Engagement Coordinators and a Steering Group of experts that share an interest in character development, citizenship and evidence-based policy making.
The Civic Journey Advisory Board is made up of 14 young people aged 16 to 30 across the UK. They hold a governance role, helping us shape the Youth Agenda.
Alexandra is a business development manager for a housing association providing health and social care services.
As her experiences of social action shaped her early career, Alexandra is keen to explore how social action can be promoted as a way of helping young people access employment and other opportunities. She is also interested in how we can overcome the financial, digital and geographical barriers that can prevent young people from engaging in social action.
Ashleigh works as part of the communications and engagement team for the National Lottery Community Fund in Northern Ireland. She works with local communities through her job, as well as socially, and through playing sports. She is particularly passionate about intergenerational activity to achieve the best possible outcome. She sees the Advisory Board as a catalyst for change for young people, particularly in Northern Ireland with its cross-community challenges, to shape the best future for our communities.
Ellie is from Newcastle Upon Tyne and is currently studying for a Masters.
Focused on polar studies, she is looking at Arctic geographical imaginations.
She is a keen runner, cook, and political campaigner who is passionate about equal opportunities, diversity, and inclusivity. Ellie’s desire to support programmes offering young people more accessible opportunities to be a part of social action has brought her to the Advisory Board.
Ellie is from an ex-mining town in South Yorkshire and has lived in London for three years.
She works for Crisis, a national homelessness charity, while also studying part-time for an MSc in Prosperity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Previously, she was at Zinc VC, building socially impactful start-ups. Ellie has volunteered in regions of conflict in Greece, Gaza, the Netherlands, and the UK. She is passionate about people-power, community cohesion, and innovation to tackle social and class inequalities.
Laiqa is a creative and cultural consultant, an intersectional feminist researcher, and is training in integrative psychotherapy. She has worked within social justice-informed creative spaces for the last five years, and is passionate about bringing a trauma-informed and harm-reductionist perspective into her work. Laiqa works with marginalised communities in London through NHS and Mind, and is passionate about blending psychotherapy with critical race theory, fifth-wave feminism, and restorative justice principles.
Mohammed is a graduate scheme trainee and masters graduate. Having completed his masters at the University of Leeds, through his time in education, and as an educator, Mohammed has been passionate about raising awareness of youth issues and the aspirations of young people. As someone from a working-class minority upbringing, he can relate first-hand to the experiences of young people from those backgrounds, and looks forward to working with the Advisory Board to make lasting changes in these communities.
Page is a trainee barrister in criminal law, with a particular interest in supporting young people’s participation at a national and international level. She has done so as a trustee for the National Children’s Bureau, where she volunteered with the Anti-Bullying Alliance and successfully campaigned for the inclusion of financial education in the national curriculum. She was a judge for the Princess Diana Award in 2021, and she was awarded the Dame Helen Alexander ‘One to Watch’ Award in 2020.
Rebecca is an analyst working on an international education programme which aims to support economic growth and poverty reduction, providing young people and disadvantaged groups with access to quality education and skills. Formerly, she was a programme management officer at a children’s charity in England focusing on the delivery of youth social action projects. Previously, she worked for the National Citizen Service as a senior mentor and Debate Mate as a student mentor. She graduated from the London School of Economics with an MSc in International Relations where she developed her interest in migration, gender and human rights.
Reza is a community development officer at the Scottish Refugee Council. He has worked with national and international partnerships to help identify opportunities for collaboration and partnership.
He completed his masters in entrepreneurial management and leadership, where he looked specifically at family enterprise, succession planning, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. He is always happy to explore development opportunities and actively pursues CPD by taking part in internal and external training and participating in international events.
Shaun is currently a philosophy and politics student at the University of York. He was born in Nigeria and grew up in some of the poorest boroughs in London. His experiences of poverty and inequality have made him who he is today: a motivated and driven person, wanting to be positive influence and a future leader within his community.
Sophie is a university student studying youth and community work in Cardiff, Wales. She is a volunteer for BGCWALES in a youth club. She is passionate about making change in the world and supporting young people in life to make a difference.
Lloyd is a 17-year-old living in South Wales. They are a former elected member of the first ever Welsh Youth Parliament, having taken part in many political projects both during that time and afterwards. Lloyd is currently studying in college and hopes to go to university. They are very excited to be a part of this project, and looking forward to seeing every part of it through.
Community Engagement Coordinators
CEC’s lead on the design and delivery of activities, using peer research, digital and creative events methods to gain insights into how people aged 16 to 30 experience social action.
Based in east of England, Elly found her passion for social justice and activism from her experiences growing up. Her first job was as a support assistant for young people with special needs and mental health issues which motivated her to do more to help people within her community. This led her to peer research at The Young Foundation where she found common shared value of using research to benefit people from all different backgrounds to collaborate on a shared social issue.
Kenza began her work in social action in the U.S,. leading civic education programmes in youth jails, and most recently guided policy in an Ohio-based organisation advocating to improve conditions facing criminalised young people. Kenza previously interned at The Brookings Institution, supporting research on low-wage and young workers, and as a student she researched economic development and nation-building in South Asia. She is interested in oral history, social movements, and cultivating community-based education.
Based in the north-west, Olivia joined The Young Foundation in 2022 from the University of Warwick after completing an MA by research. With a background in theatre and performance spanning both interdisciplinary academic scholarship and creative practice, she is interested in the application of innovative, arts-based methodologies to social research, and the potential for these to enrich and expand community participation.
Based in Wales. Carla is passionate about social inclusion. She has been a project coordinator executive with FareShare UK, working to address food poverty. She has also carried out frontline support work in the housing and homelessness sector and currently sits on the Homeless Link Expert Panel, amplifying the voices of those with lived experience in policy and decision-making.
Based in Northern Ireland. Emmet is at Queens University Belfast, studying an MA in arts management. He has a background in music event management, as well as being a member of Free the Night, an organisation focused on improving nightlife culture in Northern Ireland. He has a passion for community engagement and believes that community voices are vital to enact real change.
Based in London, Naomi joined The Young Foundation in 2022 as a community engagement coordinator. She has a background in events and an interest in research centred around community. She is specifically passionate about making events inclusive and fun while engaging with a diverse range of voices.
Institute for Community Studies team
Helen leads our multi-disciplinary team of researchers and innovators to support stronger communities across the UK. Previous roles were at Nesta, in the private sector, and in government. She was awarded an OBE for services to development of sustainable communities in the 2023 New Year Honours List.
Richard was previously a senior civil servant and deputy director of the independent think tank Reform. He has extensive experience of research and policymaking, and has advised governments all over the world on public service reform. Richard has published on a wide range of topics.
Emily joined us from the British Council, where she developed the global research portfolio. She has led and conducted a broad range of international research projects, and previously held positions at University College London and King’s College London. Emily has a long-standing interest in participatory and creative research approaches.
Previously a Partnerships Manager with police forces across South East England, Dorine supported frontline officers who are more representative of the communities they serve. She has delivered diverse programmes and worked with multiple stakeholders. Dorine joined The Young Foundation in September 2021.
Tania previously worked in consultancy for the health sector, and her background is in social psychology and social innovation. She has worked in Mexico City, Chicago, Rome and London, giving her an international perspective on community challenges. She is at her best when working creatively to develop solutions that improve people’s lives.
Samanthi is interested in participatory research methods, inclusion and accessibility. In addition to her role at the Institute for Community Studies, she is is a facilitator with Civic Square and Enrol Yourself, and a trustee for the community land trust, RUSS.
Through her work, Katriya is particularly interested in diversity and inclusion, as well as how research methodology can bring communities together and amplify the voices of those so often left out of traditional research. Katriya joined The Young Foundation after graduating from university in 2020.
Matt was instrumental in starting the Civic Journey project, developing the bid, and building the relationship with our NCS CIC funders. He is a professor of politics, set up the Bernard Crick Centre, and is also an Institute for Community
Andy is Reader in Politics at the University of Huddersfield. He co-developed the bid for this project, drawing on his expertise in citizenship education, youth pathways, understanding of the youth sector, and his work with charities, which focused on improving
The Steering Group draws on the expertise and experience of individuals and organisations based within and beyond the UK that share an interest in character development, citizenship, and evidence-based policymaking. Members of the Steering Group critically advise and support the Institute for Community Studies as it works with young people to reimagine the Civic Journey.
- Lord David Blunkett; House of Lords, Chair of the Civic Journey Steering Group
- Mark Gifford, CEO of National Citizens Service
- Liz Moorse, CEO Association for Citizenship Teaching
- David Watts, Director of Outdoor Learning at UK Youth
- Simon Parker, Director of Transformation and Policy Capability at Department for Education
- Joy Johnstone, Deputy Director at Department for Culture Media and Sport
- Jim Anderson, Head of Government Innovation Programmes at Bloomberg Philanthropies
- Louise McDonald, Institute of Directors, Scotland
- Parmi Dheensa, Include Me TOO Founder and Executive Director (Common Wealth Children and Youth Disability Network)
- Stuart Dunne, CEO of Youth Focus North West
- Sheree Atcheson, Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Valtech
- Hayel Watermberg, Co-founder of Word on the Curb
- Asha Jagatia, Future Capability Manager at Vodafone