Today we celebrate the anniversary of the launch of Inspire 2022. This feels like a good time to reflect on Inspire 2022’s achievements and look ahead to our ambitions for 2023.

Spirit of 2012 wants young people to be agents of change. As we recover from the pandemic, it is more important than ever that young people can connect with, and shape, their communities. This is why we set up Inspire 2022 in the year of the tenth anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Inspire 2022 is funded by Spirit of 2012 and the #iwill Fund, (a joint investment between The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport), designed in partnership with Local Trust and delivered by UK Youth. It is a flexible programme of events-based and youth-led social action and community events across the UK in 2022 and 2023. But unlike many youth social action programmes, Inspire 2022 is by young people not for young people, but for their community.

Inspire 2022 invites young people to speak to people in their area, find out what they need, and organise events which meet those needs. By doing this, they are not only making a difference to the people involved, but also paving the way for their voices to be part of future decisions. The excitement and positivity generated by the big events in 2022 and 2023, such as the Platinum Jubilee, Commonwealth Games, Coronation and Eurovision are opportunities to create local community events and leave a legacy of social action, community cohesion and pride.

In February this year I was fortunate to attend an Inspire 2022 social action event in my home city of Glasgow. A rare opportunity to attend a Spirit of 2012 event just up the road from my house!

Youth Scotland, who deliver Inspire 2022 in Scotland, and their local youth partner, YoMo, supported young people to engage their local community in Bridgeton on the issue of food poverty. Inspired by World Food Day, they organised a social action event that brought people together through food in a fun and enjoyable way.

It was great to see different people and different generations from across the community come together, sit, talk and eat with each other. Food can be a great leveller and connector and this was very much evident on the day. I enjoyed some lovely homemade soup and chatted with young and old who told me it was good to see events that bring the community together again back after the challenges of the pandemic.

This was very much social action in action. There were clear benefits to the young people and the community alike. Young people learned how to develop and manage an event which addressed a growing need in their community. And people in the community got to see young people in the lead, as well as connecting with others. Both were able to bring voice to a serious and challenging issue. I was so pleased that their local city councillor was able to join us and be part of the event. Could we have seen some of the city’s future councillors and community activists start their leadership and social action journey? I certainly hope so!

What really struck me about the events was the juxtaposition of a serious issue and an event rooted in creativity and fun. We played bingo where the prize was vouchers for the local supermarkets − a novel way of distributing food to people who needed help, without the stigma of judgement and the label of handout. It was both meaningful and touching.

This is why I love Inspire 2022. It brings together young people, their community, social action and events in a flexible and joyful way. It has the power to make people feel better, feel empowered and leave a legacy of community cohesion. I’m excited about the year ahead.

As I left Bridgeton with a full belly and said my goodbyes, I had the sense this event was the start of something. I’m not sure what this is but I’ll leave that to the young people and Bridgeton community to decide. As it should be.

Thank you, UK Youth, Youth Scotland, YoMo and the fine people of Bridgeton for having me. It may have been the shortest journey to a Spirit funded event, but it was also one of the most enjoyable.

Happy anniversary Inspire 2022!

Read more about Inspire 2022

Visit UK Youth’s Inspire 2022 hub to find out more