The Alan Senitt Upstanders Leadership programme is a community schools linking leadership programme for Year 10 pupils of different faith, cultural and social background.  This is a programme by the Alan Senitt Memorial Trust, a charity dedicated to the memory of Alan Charles Senitt, murdered in Washington DC on 9th July 2006 whilst defending a friend.  The programme is managed and facilitated by Stand Up! and Streetwise Streetwise, partnership projects between CST and Maccabi GB

The Leadership Programme allows the participants to learn about each other; their different cultures, religions and communities and at the same time reflect on themselves and gain leadership skills that will benefit their local community and serve them throughout their lives. In 2018/19 the programme has shifted its focus from community social action projects, to anti-discrimination community projects, becoming an ambassadors ‘Upstanders’ course for Stand Up! Education Against Discrimination.

The Alan Senitt Community Leadership Programme was first established in 2008/09.  There are currently 8 participating schools split into two tracks, each taking part in 4 day-long seminars hosted by the schools. Jewish schools Immanuel College, Yavneh College and JCoSS are part of the programme alongside Muslim Ayesha Community School in Hendon, Guru Nanak Sikh Academy in Hayes and Watford Grammar School for Boys, Nower Hill High School in Pinner and Caterham School in Redbridge, which are comprehensive multi-faith schools with high cohort of minority groups.

 The Alan Senitt Community Leadership Programme comprises of 4 seminars between the months of November and May and school-based work.  At each seminar the 40 participants are split into mixed school groups and take part in workshops on community leadership, team building, event management and, from this year, anti-discrimination training on the topics of Antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, discrimination against LGBT+, disability discrimination, racism in Sport as well as Online. 

In the schools the participants have to organise meetings and a team structure, create, plan and use the leadership skills gained, to implement their final anti-discrimination community projects. At the end of the academic year and once the community projects have been completed, the Leadership programme hosts a Graduation Ceremony for participants to showcase and present their work to co-leaders, parents and invited guests. The interfaith cross-communal programme allows the participants to learn about each other, their different cultures, religions and communities and at the same time reflect on themselves and their own responsibility to become ‘Upstanders’ in society, all whilst gaining leadership skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

Over the past 10 years the Leadership programme has seen 650 students graduate and complete social action projects for the benefit of their local communities. Each year the students from each school spend the first 3-4 months of the programme devising ideas and plans for their projects; in the months of April – May the students deliver their projects, which are then evaluated and presented at the last Seminar. A showcase is further prepared for the Graduation Ceremony, which takes place at the end of the Academic year in the presence of partners, supporters, parents and all the 80 Graduating students.

The benefits of the programme become truly apparent at the Graduation Ceremony; here, the students are able to stand on stage and present their achievements, whilst also critically reflect about the challenges they faced in working with each other and the partner organisations. Every year, the projects are incredibly impressive, there are well-crafted educational components delivered to the target audience (in school or to the partner organisations), and often fundraisers provide much needed support to the partners engaged.

These are some of the projects completed by the Alan Senitt Upstanders Leadership Programme schools in recent years:

  • A hat collection (of over 1,000 pieces) for Alopecia UK, alongside a school-wide educational campaign on the illness, and the importance of inclusivity within the school community in Hertfordshire
  • An educational campaign in a local primary school about Homelessness (Watford)
  • An awareness campaign, including social media content on Men’s Mental Health (Middlesex)
  • E-Safety workshops for Primary School students (Barnet)
  • Giving back to volunteers at local care homes & hospices through IT education (Barnet)
  • In-school fundraiser, purchased and refurbishment of a Caravan, and shipping this to Calais full of non-perishable goods, alongside educational sessions on refugees. (Watford)
  • A 300 piece ‘Essentials’ collection pack for Homeless people in Barnet
  • A Fashion Show to promote giving to charity, inclusive of a collection for an overseas partner in the Ukraine
  • Creation of workshops helping Year 6 Transition to Secondary School
  • Creating the concept of a ‘Friendship Bench’ in a local Primary school for when young people are sad or alone, fundraising, purchasing and decorating the bench in the Primary school’s playground

Following participation in the Alan Senitt Upstanders Leadership programme, the Graduates often take on leadership roles in their schools, as Head Boy / Head Girl or schools’ Prefects. Many of our graduates have taken further leadership roles at University, some presiding religious societies or social action groups. The safe space to share and learn about other cultures and traditions, alongside the practical skills learnt throughout the seminars have a clear impact on the participating students; often times young people with low confidence and poor self-esteem flourish within the programme and learn to assertively tackle the injustices they see around them. The presentation skills students learn allow them to stand confident in front of a crowd and present their achievements and creating relationships with third party partners forces young people to step out of their comfort zone and engage with an adult community they are too often oppositional to.

Having shifted the focus of the programme to tackling discrimination in all areas of society, we hope that the Graduates will utilise their skills to become anti-discrimination ambassadors in their schools; the Stand Up! and Streetwise teams will follow the students following the Graduation and provide them with social action and professional opportunities to further maintain their engagement.

If you require any further information about the Alan Senitt Upstanders Leadership Programme or its partner organisations, please email nathan@streetwisegb.org