Reflecting on VODA’s #iwill project success

For the last two years VODA’s #iwill project – funded by the Virgin Money Foundation and part of the national #iwill campaign – has brought digital and media volunteering to young people aged between 14 and 20 (up to 25 with additional needs or disabilities) in North Tyneside.


During the two years 54 young people contributed 1,454 volunteer hours in 20 social action projects and took part in 16 workshops from digital experts.

The project gave young people chance to learn a range of digital and media skills such as photography, film-making, social media, campaigning, blogging and more, and to use those skills to create campaigns around issues that mattered to the volunteers. The programme included regular, facilitated workshops, group sessions and the opportunity to contribute to the Today From Us creative agency that was set up by #iwill volunteers.


Just prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the group were in the process of planning their end of project event, putting together all of their skills and experience gleaned from their participation in the project. Whitley Bay Playhouse was booked and invitations sent out. They also produced a series of short films to be shown on the evening as well as producing a commemorative calendar.

The purpose of the event was to showcase the achievements of the project and provide young people and local organisations the opportunity to network and recruit young volunteers into their respective causes.

The #iwill project has seen a huge development of young people’s confidence and ability to perform new activities, which they have been able to use towards subjects that they really care about such as mental health and young people, poverty within the local area and challenging the negative stereotypes of young people.

Here is just a few of their achievements…

#iwill unfold

 The #iwill unfold campaign was created to encourage people to open up about their mental health. Inspired by Drummond Centrals ‘Social Media for Social Change’ four young volunteers identified a project around raising awareness of mental health. With the support of advertising, graphic design and web design experts they produced the campaign ‘I will unfold‘ . The group created an entire brand for their campaign with the purpose of encouraging local people to access mental health support and speak out about how they ‘unfold‘ . The group developed branded origami with inspiring messages. The origami has information for social media tags and their website address where people can find further information and advice about the support for mental health in North Tyneside. I will unfold particularly focused on raising the profile of local causes such as Launchpad North Tyneside, DePaul UK and North Tyneside Mind. as well as hosting events at World Mental Health Day and North Tyneside Art Studio. All in all hundreds of origami swans, butterflies and love hearts were made, branded and covered in quotes. These were given out across North Tyneside to spread a little hope.

#iwill unfold video

TyneMet College

#iwill worked with 30 young people from TyneMet College across two courses of Health and Social Care as an opportunity to empower young people to create digital content about issues they were passionate about. The students each did 30 hours of volunteering across ten weeks through #iwill which followed a process of ideas generation, team building, digital workshops and project management.

After splitting into smaller groups based on their interests and skill base, teams produced a total of seven digital social action projects to raise awareness within the college and the community.

  • LGBT stop motion video
  • Anti Bullying Stop Motion
  • Anti Sexism film
  • Discrimination film
  • Two videos for The Red Box Project North Tyneside raising awareness of the scheme within the college and advertising the opportunity to volunteer for the project.

‘When we were first planning activities for Entry and Level 1 students we wanted to have opportunities for the students to try something different, something that would take them out of their comfort zone as well as develop skills that would be useful both personally and for future employment. Engaging with the #IWILL project has developed a social conscience and enabled our students to develop many skills including their communication, problem solving, and interpersonal skills. In their groups they needed to learn to delegate tasks, working with people they may not normally work with and create something they felt confident enough to put on social media. It was an amazing project and one they accomplished so well. Students were participating in their groups, planning how to meet the brief and growing in confidence through the weeks.

“We are so proud of what the students have achieved and they deserved to be proud of themselves. This project was great, led by brilliant facilitator Josie (and others) who were encouraging and committed, this definitely helped the students to get involved.

“Overall, this is a great experience and taught the students so much about themselves; that they are capable and able to achieve so much in a short period of time. We will build on this in future lessons and tutorials to develop these skills even further.” Lucy Whibley, TyneMet College.

TyneMet College: Anti-discrimination campaign video

After exploring the issues people face in our area, the group decided to tackle the issue of discrimination and with the support of a local filmmaker produced a short film to raise awareness of this issue. The group also produced a poster campaign which has been displayed in classrooms across the campus to encourage victims of hate crimes to report them through the correct channels. This #iwill campaign was in collaboration with TyneMet College and Northumbria Police.

Here is their video…

TyneMet College: The Red Box Project North Tyneside

Entry Level students from TyneMet College took part in film making and editing workshops to create two films raising the profile of The Red Box Project in their college. The Red Box Project is a national campaign to end period poverty in young people that successfully lobbied the government to provide free period products in schools.

#iwill North Tyneside – RED BOX from Robin on Vimeo.

#iwill create / Today From Us

VODA’s social action worker and national award winning volunteer, Emma Ramshaw delivered a programme of skill- enhancing sessions that aided campaign development for the #iwill create young people. As a result of the sessions a team of 17 young people developed a digital marketing agency called ‘Today From Us’. Today From Us created digital content on behalf of the local sector about issues that were important to them. Local businesses offered up-skilling workshops on graphic design, elevator pitching, filmmaking and photography to aid their campaign development.  

Today From Us created their first independent campaign #i_weigh; inspired by actress and activist Jameela Jamil’s @i_weigh community. The group submitted images of themselves to the @i_weigh community and Jameela Jamil reposted their images on three separate occasions to her 710,000 followers on instagram and facebook 







Stop Loan Sharks

Today From Us worked on a campaign designed to raise awareness of the dangers of payday loans and loan sharks amongst young people. They created new posters and leaflets on behalf of the Illegal Money Lending Team’s Stop Loan Sharks campaign. The Illegal Money Lending Team provided a workshop overview of their core aims and set a the young people a strict brief to test their digital content development capabilities.  

Testimonial from Natalie Barker from the North East Stop Loan Sharks Team
“Wow I am blown away these are absolutely fantastic and the young people deserve a huge pat on the back.”


Rebrand of Creative Minds

Two young people involved with Creative Minds; a local organisation which provides support to individuals with sensory issues, Autism Spectrum DIsorder and brain injury took on the challenge of re-branding the organisation. Using their personal experience and supported by a local designer, the volunteers followed the process from concept to design to achieve the unique logo and new poster designs.

Rebrand of Tots Tea Rooms

Tyne Fresh

Meadow Well Connected asked Today From Us to help promote their new community produce service, Tyne Fresh. Tyne Fresh aims to encourage the North Tyneside community to support the local food industry through affordable, healthy and fresh produce. The young volunteers were asked to create a short film which promoted the new service as a means of engaging the local community, many of whom face a financial barrier to accessing fresh and healthy fruit, vegetables and meat.

Tyne Fresh also briefed Today From Us to design and create simple but effective recipe cards that offer quick and healthy options for families on a budget. The team was in charge of photographing prepared meals and ingredients that entice a new audience to buy into the Tyne Fresh scheme.

Be the change North Tyneside

Inspired by their impact on the environment around us, three young people sought to make a difference on a local level. After consulting with North Tyneside Council‘s environmental services and Plastic Free North Tyneside, Be The Change was created. Social media pages were set up with branded images and infographics sharing information about how small steps can make big changes to reducing plastic waste and reducing individual impact on the climate.

Support from local creative organisations

Mint Communications hosted a session on marketing and how to attract people using digital platforms and social media. This was to increase knowledge and understanding about what and how to share information on social media.

Venview 360 worked with the group on virtual reality, creating a virtual tour of Whitley Bay Big Local and a mannequin challenge. The feedback from the young people was really good:

For You Photography led a photography walk along the coast at Whitley Bay passing on skills and tips for getting more out of landscape photography,

The young people attended a comic drawing class led by Kevin F looking at ways a storyboard could be used to market and share a service for the community.

Drummond Central, Carrie Brookes Communications, Turn Coach, Peter Maughan, Emmanuel TV and Media Bourne also provided workshops. 

Feedback from young people volunteering on VODA’s #iwill project

‘I saw #iwill create and thought that it looked good, I like helping people and making a difference when I’m volunteering’ 

I enjoyed doing the elevator pitch session; we created something out of that which explains what we do. I have learnt skills in teamwork and project management, being able to develop a project from scratch is something that’s helped me develop a lot’  

‘I got involved for something to do, I wanted to get out of the house and get some experience. I have learnt skills in using different design software on a computer, communication and photography. Last year I ran my own campaign through #iwill and I have enjoyed coming down on a Thursday for this #iwill session. I am looking forward to people coming in like the loan sharks and setting us challenges.’  

I got involved because I wanted to help the community; I want to be able to help the charities that aren’t really advertised raise awareness’  

I have enjoyed meeting new and interesting people, talking to them and making new friends’ 

‘I came across VODA’s #iwill project on twitter, I decided to come along for the craic. I have enjoyed it and learnt new skills in logo design, photography and film making so far. We’re about to start our first proper campaign so that’s a work in progress.’  

‘I came to VODA to find out about volunteering and joined the #iwill project, I wanted to learn some new skills, meet new people and improve my confidence.  

Feedback from young people on skills development workshops 

‘We all had a laugh doing this workshop and we learnt how to use a proper SLR camera’.  

I really enjoyed being interviewed and answering questions.’  

‘I learnt about the rule of thirds and how to properly film interviews.’  

‘I learnt about radio mics and how to record with camera and use a tripod.’  

‘I learned new things and built my confidence up.’  

‘I enjoyed everything, it helped my confidence and it was a good team bonding sessions, I learnt more skills.’  


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