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Awards 2024
Cockermouth School 1


Students from ten West Cumbrian schools have collaborated with businesses to lead the challenge on a range of sustainability issues with initiatives that will benefit their communities.

A diverse range of ideas generated and developed by the young people includes eco-reclamation of waste land, better rubbish recycling, rewilding, wellness, biodiversity and community gardens, encouraging the use of reusable water bottles to cut plastic waste, helping the community to reduce energy costs, and recycling school uniforms.

The ‘Leading Change – Sustainability Campaign’ activity is funded by the Sellafield Ltd SiX – Social Impact Multiplied – programme, partnering with the Centre for Leadership Performance to deliver the initiative. Business mentors from Sellafield Ltd and other local companies have supported students from secondary schools in Allerdale and Copeland to develop their sustainability campaign ideas and turn plans into action.

The scheduled 12 week Leading Change programme completes with the students presenting their plans to panels of business mentors to get funding to turn ideas into reality. Participating schools receive £250 seed funding to create their campaigns and a further £1500 to turn their ideas into reality

Activity is set to continue up to a celebration scheduled for the end of March at Lakes College to recognise achievement and reveal what students gained from the experience.

Schools taking part are Keswick School, Whitehaven Academy, Lakes College, Mayfield School, St Benedict’s Catholic High School, West Lakes Academy, Netherhall School, Workington Academy, Cockermouth School, and St Joseph’s Catholic High School.

Sellafield Ltd has provided business mentors to work with the students alongside companies including RC Civils, TUV SUD, Bechtel, NESMA, Mitie., Thomas Graham, North Lakes Hotel, and Torque2 & the Community Data Co-operative.

The programme aims to support young people to develop their leadership skills, have their voices heard on issues that matter most to them, and influence positive change in their local communities through the campaigns students own and shape based on local needs.

It puts sustainability at the heart of the curriculum, providing young people with opportunities to lead change in their local communities and make them more aware of the UN global sustainability goals.

The ‘Leading Change – Sustainability Campaign’ programme also provides opportunities for employers to seek the views of young people on some of today’s key challenges and gives them the chance to be part of the solutions.

A wide range of campaigns and ideas have been developed by the students.

Whitehaven Academy’s ‘eco committee’ presented plans to ensure they contribute to helping the environment and the land around their school.
Mayfield School is improving recycling facilities leading with the catchphrase “Mayfield is rubbish at recycling!”
St Joseph’s School leavers’ group is creating a community garden at the school designed to improve student well-being and mental health and bring the community together to enjoy wildlife, swap plants and help the environment.

Keswick School plans to create a biodiversity garden within the school grounds.

Cockermouth School is encouraging the local community to embrace rewilding through planting and better use of outdoor spaces.
Netherhall School branded a campaign to design a reusable school water bottle”Don’t be drastic say no to plastic (waste)”.
Workington Academy’s ‘Wellbeing Warriors’ pitched the idea to start a wellbeing garden in their school to improve the well-being and overall mental health of students.

St Benedict’s School is cutting plastic waste by providing reusable water bottles for pupils.
Lakes College created an event for people to get advice from businesses on how to cut their energy costs
West Lakes Academy students created a pre-loved uniform shop ‘Preform’ giving families the opportunity to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Gary McKeating Head of Community and Development at Sellafield Ltd explains: “These young people have risen to the challenge of the UN sustainability goals with support from their business mentors, and have produced an exciting and imaginative range of ideas to engage their local communities and stakeholders. The ‘Leading Change – Sustainability Campaign’ programme gives young people the chance to lead and have their ideas heard, and gives them hands-on experience of business processes and an insight into the work of local companies and the career roles they can offer.”

Eirini Etoimou, Head of Corporate Sustainability & Supply Chain Development at Sellafield Ltd adds: “It is hopeful and so rewarding for all of us to witness this genuine enthusiasm of the next generation. We are happy to support this project, but we need to give the credit to all these young people that not only have they delivered substantial outcomes, but, we are confident that, they will spread the message of applying sustainability principles to more. Sustainability should not be over and above our life activities. It is our life. Well done to everyone involved!”

Anna Dove, Accelerated Progress Leader at St Joseph’s Catholic High School reports: “The boys got a lot out of it and really appreciate the time given to listening to their project ideas and progress summary. They rarely get such an opportunity, and today when we were out in the garden area – measuring up in order to purchase some more weed membrane and woodchip – they seem renewed with enthusiasm for the project, energised from yesterday’s panel experience!”

Sharon Brook, Head of Sales at the North Lakes Hotel & Spa & Langdale Chase Hotel adds: “We at North Lakes are always happy to support the CforLP initiatives. It was an absolutely amazing experience working alongside the students from Keswick School with their Leading Change Project, watching them learn, grow and work together. The tight schedule meant the group using a whole range of skills including prioritising, delegating, communication, and research and they rose to the challenge admirably, spending many lunchtimes in a classroom debating and discussing thoughts and options. That said, their idea of a beautiful garden in the centre of the school for all to enjoy is one that will be ongoing, and one that the North Lakes Hotel will continue to support them with over the coming months.”

The Leading Change concept was originally successfully piloted by the CforLP in Workington Academy with Transforming West Cumbria #CANDO funding.

Executive Director at the CforLP Sarah Glass adds: “The programme builds on the success of our other enterprise programmes, with partners who share our commitment to creating more opportunities for young people. At the CforLP we work to ensure leadership is seen as a quality we can all demonstrate, and young people in their presentations to the review panels have acknowledged that this programme has given them with leadership opportunities in their schools and helped them to nurture creative thinking and develop confidence, team work and resilience

“We know from our other enterprise programmes that this sort of activity can be a life-changing experience for young people, and we are committed to intergenerational life-long leadership learning from primary to retirement.”

Leading Change is just one of Centre for Leadership’s flagship programmes. The not-for-profit organisation creates and delivers an inclusive ladder of lifelong leadership learning opportunities from Primary to Boardroom and exists to create Cumbria’s leaders of today and tomorrow.

Learn more about Leading Change here:

If you are a business interested in funding or providing expertise to support the Leading Change programme please get in touch with for more information.