In September, UKYCC held our PowerShift event in London for our fifteen-year anniversary. The motivational speakers and empowering workshops left me energised, and strengthened my connection both to UKYCC and the wider climate movement.
Following the day, UKYCC reflected on how this would shape our work moving forward.
The original PowerShift took place in the very early days of UKYCC, when we held a Youth Climate Summit in London in 2009. Young people with various backgrounds, interests and levels of engagement gathered from across the UK. The aim was to equip them with the skills to take climate action in their area. 14 years on, we held Powershift 2023. It provided an opportunity to build our collective knowledge and bring new young people into the movement in an accessible and inclusive way. We took stock of how far the movement had come and where it was going.
“[PowerShift] was such a great day! I learnt so much about what UKYCC does and different actions I can do both individually and also in groups for positive action on climate justice” Stephanie, non UKYCC member
Many at UKYCC reflected that PowerShift 2023 presented an opportunity to collaborate more with other organisations, such as Fossil Free London and No Borders in Climate Justice. Developing and nurturing the relationships that were built on the day must be a core focus of our work as we move into an election year. Coming together in spaces such as PowerShift allows us to explore collaborative opportunities. It also reminds us of the scope and scale of community that we have in the climate movement that itself acts as a motivator to keep fighting.
“As a new member of UKYCC, the event was a chance to witness the drive for change that young people have in the climate justice space. It has given me new ideas for future collaborations with other youth group and I gained new skills that I can take forward into future events and conferences”
Adelaide, current UKYCC member
Creating a culture of care
While the event reflected on the past, PowerShift 2023 rightly focussed on how the movement can improve in the future. We discussed the need to better create a culture of care and prioritise well-being. One of our speakers, Charlotte Lastoweckyi, articulately brought this to the fore, reflecting on her personal experiences of feeling pressure to be the ‘perfect activist’ and the profound impact that had on her. The workshop run by The Resilience Project, which focussed on handling climate emotions, led us at UKYCC to think about how we incorporate well-being into our everyday practices and approaches.
“I was really delighted to see an event organised with collective care that was executed so beautifully. Requesting people mask and take care of each other is central to collective care, social justice and climate justice.”
Raeeka, Parents for Future UK
Since then, UKYCC working groups have been making space for longer discussions on well-being. On a broader scale we are thinking about how to incorporate more meditation practices into UKYCC. Our well-being officer is also kicked off monthly well-being check-ins for UKYCCers to come together and be present with each other.
The highlight for me was being in community with other amazing young change-makers who are all fighting for a better future. It made me feel really seen and energised to keep taking action.”
Grace, The Resilience Project
Inspiring action through storytelling
The first ever PowerShift back in 2009 focussed heavily on how we tell inspiring stories that create emotions and motivate action on the climate crisis. Now in 2023, our focus has not changed; this continues to be and will remain central to our work. This focus is particularly relevant to our panel on resisting fossil fuel expansion, where our speakers stressed the need to reach those outside the climate bubble. This can only be done through strong storytelling and making people feel a connection to the climate crisis.
Lira Valencia, one of the speakers on our Building an Intersectional Climate Movement panel, also spoke about how she creates space on her social media for underrepresented communities to connect with nature on a personal level. Platforms like hers are making a difference simply by making people see their own story and experience as linked to the climate and nature crises.
To conclude, PowerShift gave us here at UKYCC much to think about as we come into an election year and beyond. We will be looking into how we build connections and capacity across the movement, as well as how we tell the story of the climate crisis in a meaningful and impactful way.