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After a whirlwind nine weeks of growing, learning and breaking boundaries, The Future Leaders are now taking their first steps into turning the theory of leadership into reality.

The Future Leaders Project was proudly coordinated by Empowered Youth in collaboration with the University of Derby, Derby College Group, BLM: New Gen and the YMCA; spear headed by Alix Manning-Jones the programme was funded by the Department for Education through the Opportunity Area programme. With such a strong team behind the project a unique opportunity arose for aspiring young people to have the chance to really become leaders in the city and reach their full potential with sustainable support and mentorship.

In June this year, twenty young people embarked on their journey to embrace leadership in its entirety and break down the walls of their comfort zones to make their individual marks on the city of Derby. They went through an application process and were selected for the inaugural Future Leaders Project. 

The cohort of aspiring leaders first met at Derby University where they were welcomed by a team of inspirational, current leaders in the city. Representatives of the partner organisations delivered welcome speeches and set out their intentions for their role in the project – all taking the position of being available mentors throughout and offering their resources and connections.

Following from this, Derby College Roundhouse was the next location where the participants received three weeks of intensive coaching and were later examined on their development in the theory of leadership and public speaking.

The next week was hosted at the YMCA, where they delved into community work! The Future Leaders developed an understanding of community needs through their work on the allotments, training around mental health and hosting the YMCA Community Meal Day. This week was packed filled with activities which really developed the young people’s awareness and displayed the importance of leaders breaking barriers in the community to truly understand the needs of those less privileged.

The Future Leaders took breaking boundaries to a physical level next, during their three-day retreat to Kingswood Peak Venture. During this retreat the team had to work together to build upon trust and communication skills in physical challenges and supported one another when it came to crushing fear of heights! 

After their return the participants were thrown back into Empowered Youth’s coaching sessions with Dene Botha and Niamh Toner, to prepare for the next week of interviewing the public in Derbion shopping centre to discover the true needs of Derby’s young people and work alongside security in finding new approaches to disruptive teens in the evenings.

At our Awards Ceremony event, hosted by Derby College on 23rd August 2022, the cohort of Future Leaders delivered incredible, heartfelt speeches of reflection of their journey and hopes for their futures, this provided the audience of partners and industry professionals insight into the relationships built over the course of the programme. Participants who were previously unable to speak in classroom settings were delivering speeches with professionalism and confidence due to the public speaking training and the experiences gained on the course.

With a course retention of 95% and with every milestone of the programme delivered, each and every participant left with a wealth of experience, skills, tools and self-belief, AND two qualifications! A Level 2 Leadership qualification accredited by Derby College and a Mental Health First Aid qualification provided by the YMCA. 

Having made connections with a wide range of organisations, including but not limited to Community Action Derby, Enthusiasm, Derby County Community Trust, Safe and Sound, Derbion and more, the participants have had opportunities at their fingertips – with Derby College even offering the chance to become a Personal Tutor at the college campuses to several the participants – organisations have been queuing to snap up these young inspirational people.

Post closure of the programme, our facilitators of The Future Leaders Project have been maintaining contact with the participants, monitoring their progress, guiding their next steps, and filtering the opportunities still coming through to the group. In a recent review, it was discovered that 100% of the participants are continuing education, 37% are employed and 47% are engaging in further training as further training opportunities filtered through from external organisations The Future Leaders had connected with throughout the programme. 

Empowered Youth are also thrilled to have gained two interns from the Future Leader’s cohort, who are wishing to gain experience of project management and the other in marketing and media. 

“We, at Empowered Youth, couldn’t be prouder of the results of this programme. It has been an honour, to not only work alongside the inspiring organisations to build such strong foundations for the youth of today but also, to have the opportunity to play a role in the evolution of our Future Leaders.”

Dene BothaCEO at Empowered Youth

The Future Leaders Project is a programme that has begun to shape a legacy in Derby, and it is abundantly clear that this is the beginning of a movement towards shaping the leaders of the future to truly represent the needs of all young people. 

Derby is pathing the way to become the leading city for youth provision, and we are backing it all the way! 

For more information, contact: or search #DerbyFutureLeaders on social media