Seventeen year old Jed Stancliffe’s no longer a follower, he’s a leader with a vision.

Three years ago the reserved 14 year-old was curious about what Raise Up, a YMCA youth run empowerment programme could offer him. But, it was a speech by a coordinator at school assembly that turned Jed’s curiosity into action. “When I heard they planned and managed events, I wanted to experience it for myself. So, I grabbed a form and signed up. I just did it”.

Jed, who next year heads into his final year of school, has come a long way in three years. Now, instead of letting others take the lead, he’s taking charge. He says, smiling, “the best thing Raise Up did for me was turn me from a follower into a leader. At meetings and events, if there are issues that need to be solved I jump in and fix them rather than stand back and let other people do it.”

Jed’s new found confidence amongst his peers has translated into life. “There’s a lot I want to do,” he says, “I have a lot planned for my life. I want to continue with my hobby of too-tooing with cars, and work-wise I would like to get into the theoretical side of maths and physics. It’s always been a dream of mine, so perhaps it can be my dream job.”

Jed adds, smiling, “Raise Up has taught me to say yes to challenges, something I used to shy away from." One of those challenges was speaking in front of 250 people at Raise Up’s recent graduation. “That speech,” Jed says, “was improvised, but it was how I truly feel about the programme. Raise Up helps the youth of today give back to their little corner of the world.