UpRisers are Taking Action...but first they must face the Dragons

UpRisers are Taking Action...but first they must face the Dragons

April 9, 2018


Last Tuesday March 27, 100 young people across the UK pitched their Social Action Campaign ideas as part of the free UpRising Leadership & Environmental Leadership Programmes in London, Birmingham and Cardiff. The UpRising annual Dragons’ Den kicks off UpRisers’ campaigning journey with a chance to receive one-of-a-kind feedback from senior industry professionals and most importantly WIN MONEY!


UpRising recruits talented, diverse and enthusiastic young people from across the UK striving to make positive changes in their community. The Dragons’ Den event teaches young people how to pitch an idea to investors or funders in a real-life scenario as this is a key skill in order to create a sustainable project, charity, social enterprise or business.


Keep reading or click below to find out about each regional event:


Follow the social action campaigns at www.UpRisingSocialAction.uk and Get Involved





The 2018 UpRising Birmingham Environmental Leadership Programme (ELP) Dragons’ Den was hosted in the stunning offices of  DLA Piper UK LLP and we were proud to boast 3 esteemed Dragons on our panel this year.


Dragons’ Ian Nutt, Cath Hare & James Knight delivering the results of their deliberation to UpRising Birmingham campaign team: BrumUnity.


The first Dragon was James Knight, Member and Community Relations Officer at Central England Co-operative. Not only did Central England Co-operative donate £500 worth of prize money, James gave apt business advice and offered in-kind mentoring to the FemEco campaign team. The second Dragon, Ian Nutt - Head of Development at Soil Association's Food for Life - offered hands-on advice on how teams can raise the necessary funds to implement their campaigns, shared his environmental expertise, and promised to link all campaigns with organisational partners that can support them. Finally, Cath Hare, Programme Manager at Our Bright Future, the funder of our UpRising Environmental Leadership Programme, brought a positive energy to the room, in addition to her wealth of knowledge in grants distribution for community and environmental projects.


“...when I was asked to take part in UpRising’s Dragons’ Den event in Birmingham, I couldn’t wait to return to my roots of engaging with passionate, visionary young people who are striving for change. And I wasn’t disappointed! ...not only did they have fun challenging themselves and their understanding of how investment in environmental issues might work, but the alumni also broadened my horizons hugely. Hearing young people speak convincingly about what motivates them to change and make them and their peers create a better world to live in, was truly inspiring.”

Ian Nutt, Head of Development at Soil Association's Food for Life


Throughout the night creative and inspiring campaign ideas were heard from:


  • E.Mission: Aiming to create an app that tracks the carbon footprint associated with your diet and offers tailored suggestions to reduce it. They will also work with restaurants to develop a 'carbon count' offering.

  • Learn:  Aiming to help young children rediscover the natural environment and the value of different ecosystems in the world around them through educational workshops. Follow them on Instagram @learn_uprising

  • FemEco: Aiming to empower young people to use eco-friendly cosmetic products by educating them on the environmental benefits through fun DIY workshops and an online blog. Follow them on Instagram @FemEcoUpRising

  • Plog on Canals: Aiming to combat the litter problem along the Birmingham and Worcester Canal Line by encouraging people to participate in ‘plogging’ - litter picking whilst jogging.

  • BrumUnity: Aiming to weave together communities and highlight the unnecessary waste in Birmingham by creating waterproof, lightweight and insulating mats for the homeless woven out of ‘plarn’ – plastic yarn, made from recycled plastic bags. Follow them on Instagram @brumunity

  • Bloomin’ Brum: Aiming to support young people by aiding in the creation of a sustainable outdoor community space to unite, engage and educate a disadvantaged community in Birmingham. Follow them on Instagram @bloominbrum.

  • Wastebusters: Aiming to showcase a model of a local, sustainable and environmental-friendly food festival that can be duplicated giving rise to an increasingly sustainable Birmingham. Follow them on Facebook @Wastebusters18


All teams were awarded part of the £500 in prize money based on the Dragons’ decision and FemEco won the best presentation award.


FemEco--the winners of UpRising Birmingham’s Best Presentation Award


Birmingham UpRisers had this to say about the event:


“From the beginning of the programme, I was aware that there was going to be a Dragons’ Den...It was very nerve wracking, but in the weeks leading up to the event we were given all the tools required to pitch well. I was very impressed with everyone's social action campaign and the thought put in all of them. It was great to hear fellow friends and cohorts talk about what they are passionate about. I am looking forward to all the campaigns coming to fruition.”

Hiloni, UpRising Birmingham 2017/18 Environmental Leadership Programme


“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Dragons Den. Although we had all talked about Social Action Campaigns over the few weeks leading up to the event, I didn’t know what to expect from the other teams. It is safe to say I was extremely impressed! All of the campaign ideas were well thought out and professional delivered in a positive and supportive environment. I was proud to be part of it.”

Louis, UpRising Birmingham 2017/18 Environmental Leadership Programme




The 2018 UpRising Cardiff Leadership Dragons Den took place in a function suite at the Principality Stadium, overlooking the famous pitch in the heart of Cardiff City Centre. The event was kindly supported by FOR Cardiff.


On the panel this year we were joined by five prestigious dragons namely Adrian Field, Executive Director, FOR Cardiff; Peter Hughes, Managing Director, Principality Commercial; Sara Pepper, Director of Creative Economy, Creative Cardiff; Kerys Sheppard, Head of Fundraising, Shelter Cymru; and Nick Andrews, Head of Commissioning, BBC Cymru Wales.



During the evening the following campaigns were heard from:


  • Opportunities4all whose aim is to promote the importance of taking part in and provide young people in Cardiff; 19-25 with extra curricular opportunities as a way of developing personally and professionally https://twitter.com/Opp4AllCardiff

  • REACH whose aim is to work with and set up events and a website for women to connect who have suffered from PTSD as a result of sexual harassment, assault or negative experiences and to set up a manifesto to create better support and development for women in Cardiff https://twitter.com/CardiffReach

  • Switch Safe whose aim is to deliver workshops in 3-5 schools across Cardiff targeting 11-14 year olds on cybersecurity and how to be safe online. Also to produce a workbook for children to take back to parents.

  • Street Light whose aim is to work with 1-5 homeless people and try and help them turn their life around by working with closely with external organisations. Also to work with key stakeholders to create a community fridge in Cardiff city centre

  • Politics in Education whose aim to get Politics classes compulsory on the welsh curriculum by lobbying Welsh government, journalists and starting a petition.


All campaign pitches were delivered extremely professionally and passionately by all UpRisers.


All teams received a share of the prize money.  However, after much deliberation £300.00 was awarded to SwitchSafe; REACH was awarded £200.00;  Politics in Education £180.00 and Streetlight and Opportunities4all £160.00




Cardiff UpRisers said:


“Honestly, if you told us when we first start[ed] working on the campaign and our presentation that we would win the top prize money I would have been shocked. It was a lot of hard work but in the end was really worth it.”

Sophia Khirani, Cardiff Leadership Programme 2017/18, Switch Safe


“It was such an amazing experience to deliver our presentations and get feedback from on them from a professional panel. I have definitely improved my confidence and presentation skills.”

Aisha Saeed, Cardiff Leadership Programme 2017/18, Opporunities4all


We were also joined in the audience by local supporters and ambassadors of the Cardiff Leadership Programme including Councillor Dilwar Ali who announced the winning pitches.






2018 ELP London UpRisers shone bright tonight with some absolutely amazing campaign ideas being pitched to our panel of amazing industry leading Dragons.

A huge thank you to Lexis Nexis for not only hosting us but providing a Dragon. Our UpRisers were joined by Leigh Petters, Head of Content Creation, Tolley, Lexis Nexis; Genevieve Mortimer, a Business Sustainability Consultant representing Climate KIC; Hugo van Maasakkers, Consultancy Manager for London at the National Trust; and last but definitely not least, Amy Cameron, Director of Operations at 10:10.




In all, 7 campaigns were pitched but only three were given funding awards. However, the judges felt all were winners! The winning campaigns included:


  • The Camden Fridge aimed to create a community fridge that will be used for perishable and non-perishable items donated by food charities and supermarkets, as well as local produce grown in community gardens for local community members to use for free. They believe an engaged local community contributing to and benefiting from a public fridge can help achieve their aims to increase awareness about food waste and urban food production.

  • Community Empowerment aimed to work with a women’s refuge centre in Barking and Dagenham to run a set of interactive, informative and solution-based workshops that intersect with environmental issues as well. The group hope that by aligning ourselves with such a centre, they will be able to inspire environmental action, which will subsequently promote empowerment and community integration.

  • On Ya Bike is a campaign focussed on LSE and LSE student to encourage more cyclists on campus and create a safer and more friendly environment for cyclists at LSE, and in London as a whole. They will be running two workshops in and around LSE over the coming months, one aimed at raising awareness and one community cycle ride.

  • ART-icipate is a movement of young people looking to communicate, educate and raise awareness amongst young people, families and communities about living and working sustainably through creative means. They hope to create eye opening, interactive events and workshops, with a focus on participation and propagating knowledge about environmental issues via the arts.

  • LSE 2ndLife Festival is another LSE based campaign that aims to create a swapshop for students to swap their unwanted good, encourage students not to waste goods, and save money as well as the planet! The event will also include workshops on how to make your own household products and film environmental costs of ‘fast fashion’.

  • Envirotalks is a campaign focused on reducing London household waste with an emphasis on plastic waste. They will be working with Churches and Mosques in Newham and Lewisham to work with Black and Minority Ethnic community members to educate them on plastic and household waste. They will be doing this though social media and vox pops as well as creating engaging videos, info-graphics and creative posts.

  • Air Pollution and Aquaponics is a novel campaign aiming to raise awareness on how aquaponics can be used as a tool to reduce air pollution in the house and aim to educate members of the public through reaching out to youth first via workshops in youth centres and schools.


London UpRisers should be proud! Of the campaigns, Community Empowerment received £200, LSE Swap Shop received £150 and Envirotalks won £50 in funding. The level and scale of the presentations was amazing and UpRisers represented UpRising outstandingly in all of their pitches.



UpRiser had this to say about their time on the programme so far:


"I'm really glad I made the decision to apply to UpRising Environmental Leadership programme and thankfully got in! I never had the opportunity or confidence to access developmental opportunities, and UpRising aspires you to think more and do more. It's amazing to be surrounded by like-minded and ambitious peers as well as all the support that comes with the package which I'm so grateful for!"

Kim Nguyen, 2017/18 Environmental Leadership Programme, ART-icipate.


“The sessions we’ve had so far have been phenomenal, especially those on the pitching value propositions; defining your narrative has truly helped me to understand how to create sustainable projects and I feel this programme is idea changing and the platform you get to meet people in the environmental space is awe inspiring!”

Catherine Munyarari,  2017/18 Environmental Leadership Programme, EnviroTalks.


UpRising London wishes our teams the best of luck in their campaigning and look forward to the results of their hard work!


Get Involved

Across the UK this has been an evening of inspiration and hope towards the future. Please continue to follow our UpRisers’ journey by following us on Twitter: @UpRising_Brum, @UpRising_Cymru, @UpRising_LDN.


To apply for any of our free Leadership programmes, click here.