Workshop: Case Study - BT connects young voices with adults

Blythe Terrell

Summary

The telecommunications company's Am I Listening? campaign, now in its second year, sold "experiences" with celebrities to raise money for Childline and held breakfast events for young people. Fundraising totals are still being calculated.

Background

In 2002, BT sponsored a survey called Are young people being heard? Results showed that only 47 per cent of UK children and young people believed adults were listening to them and acting on what they said.

The 2003 campaign raised more than £300,000 and is part of BT's larger Am I Listening? initiative, which has raised more than £2.9m.

The Am I Listening? campaign emphasises the importance of giving young people a voice, while Big Listen Week is part of BT's efforts to raise money for Childline and to increase awareness about the issues. It also seeks to teach adults how to listen to young people.

"The basic premise is that if we listen more effectively to young people, they will feel more connected with our world and that will in turn lead to a better world," said campaign spokesman Justin McKeown.

How it worked

BT held a week of events from 25 to 31 October. The Big Auction sold "experiences" with celebrities such as Kylie Minogue and Dizzee Rascal. People could bid on auction website Ebay to sit in on Jonathan Ross's radio show, take tea at the Ritz with Jackie Collins and have a singing lesson with Katie Melua. Celebrities also autographed merchandise to sell, such as part of gold medallist Ben Ainslie's Olympic kit. One bidder even bought an appearance in Bat Boy: the Musical.

Big Breakfasts were another key element of Big Listen Week. At seven meetings across the UK, young people sat down with corporations, religious groups, public service groups and government leaders to debate issues relating to UK youth.

The breakfasts, which were attended by about a dozen young people each, were new to Big Listen Week. "I think virtually everybody really enjoyed it," McKeown said. "We had business leaders say it was great to be reminded what it was like to be 16 and see the world through someone else's eyes."

Other events during the week helped young people learn how to get involved and make their voices heard. On Take Action! Day, the British Youth Council held fundraising events all over the UK.

The final event of the week was the Big Bag Pack, in which young people and youth groups packed supermarket bags for donations.

Results

The Big Auction raised more than £12,000. The largest chunk, £3,400, came from a bid from several people in Montreal, Canada, to spend a day on the road in the UK with 80s pop band Marillion.

"I believe a couple of them will come across," McKeown said. "We knew that Marillion fans are dedicated, but we expected it would be someone in this country."

The fundraising totals will not be known for months, McKeown said. Some groups still plan to participate in the bag pack over the coming months.

Also, BT has released a DVD to help parents and children communicate.

For each copy of the DVD sold, £5 will benefit Childline.

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