Elena aged 17, is in her third year on our Youth Board

I joined my youth club because they were working in my school and I became friends with some girls who went there after school or in breaks. But then, I saw what it was all about and I really loved it.

I got involved with London Youth by taking a leadership role in my youth club and joining London Youth’s City Leaders programme. A big opportunity came where someone had dropped out of giving a speech at an event we were at and so I just did it spontaneously. It was one of the most meaningful things I’d ever spoken about.

It made me want to feel part of something. When I was younger, I always thought there was nothing for us young people. There are all these adults running the world and we have no say in it. If we say anything different, we’re thought badly of. I didn’t like that at all! To find something with the same values made me want to be part of it.

I feel like I have a voice now. One of the scariest things I’ve done was giving the keynote speech at the London Youth Awards at City Hall in 2019. I thought about the world and how much I’ve been pushed back, and it felt like I was fighting back. I felt special because not a lot of people at all get to stand on that stage and say something meaningful. I felt like I was doing the right thing and that it was of benefit to a lot of people. Having London Youth out there, as an institution, is really important. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.