Leeds young citizens fire up local dragons with social action projects

Young people taking part in a national citizenship programme faced some local ‘dragons’ earlier this month, to put their social enterprise ideas to the test.

Leeds City Council’s youth service brought a Dragon’s Den style panel to 109 young people currently taking part in the council’s National Citizen Service (NCS) programme.

The youngsters presented ideas for a social action project to the panel of ‘dragons’, which consisted of city councillors, business and charity professionals. The panel were able to provide the youngsters with useful feedback and offered opportunities to the teams of young people to help their projects become success stories.

Each team of young people prepared a ten minute presentation to introduce their ideas, outline how their project would work and explain what additional assistance they were seeking. The young people were then quizzed by the dragons, who offered the teams further ideas and shared relevant contacts with them.

The setting for the imposing Dragon’s Den event was the commercial office of Begbies Traynor Group in Leeds.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children and families said:

“These young people really rose to the challenge by presenting to these ‘dragons’. I’m sure it was an exciting but daunting experience. Getting involved in the National Citizen Service programme helps them build confidence ad allows them to develop useful skills for the future in public speaking, organisation and planning.”

The panel members were especially impressed by the calibre of the teams:

Lee Lockwood, a Director of Begbies Traynor, said: “The young people we met were full of energy, enthusiasm and great ideas, which will see them go on to do great things.”

Councillor Caroline Gruen, support executive member for children and families said: “I was struck by the young people's understanding of the complex relationships, attitude and cultural behaviours presented within a cosmopolitan society...there was a real willingness to tackle important but potentially controversial and challenging issues in the projects they were presenting to us. I left feeling refreshed and thoroughly reassured that our young generation is setting an excellent example of social skills, awareness and tolerance. An example that would put many of us to shame!"

Councillor Roger Harington, deputy executive member for children and families added: “It was very impressive to see the way the young people had worked together to pitch their ideas. Many of the presentations were not just informative but inspiring.”

The young people will now use the feedback they received and to hone their social action project ideas. Each team’s project is due to be completed in the next few weeks.


The Dragon’s Den panel consisted of

Name Role Organisation
Linda HorsburghRegional Delivery PartnerSomewhere to_
Cllr Caroline Gruen Support executive member for children and familiesLeeds City Council
Cllr Roger Harrington Deputy executive member for children and familiesLeeds City Council
Amy Downes Senior Community Life Co-ordinatorASDA
Lee LockwoodDirectorBegbies Traynor Group
Marvina Babs-ApataFounderAngels of Youth

The government sponsored NCS programme (National Citizen Service) is open to all 16 and 17 year olds in the Leeds area and challenges young people to go beyond their comfort zones, to join a team, develop new skills and identify issues of importance to young people and local communities. The four week programme culminates with a social action project designed and delivered by each team of young people and as part of this process, each team of young people was asked to present their ideas for a social action project to a panel of Dragons.

See www.thencsnetwork.org.uk for more information about the NCS.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk