As the new academic year begins, we are reflecting on training over 35,000 young people across the country last year and are thrilled to have hosted four competitions.
Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge culminated in the Grand Final on Monday, 10th of July, at the Cambridge Theatre on the West End. This special event saw 15 Finalists compete for the top trophy and prizes. It was attended by hundreds of audience members and VIP guests.
The Grand Final Champion 2022-23, with his speech titled ‘It Doesn’t Get Better’ about his journey of living his authentic self, was Ethan Bousoula.
The humorous imitations and positive message of personal growth that Ethan brought to his speech sent the audience and judges into rapturous applause. When discussing the moment he opened up about his sexuality and how he received hateful comments, he said: “I turned to the internet for advice and would always hear the same thing: ‘It gets better’. The truth is it never did get better. I got better… I couldn’t help ‘it’, but what I could help was myself and the way I chose to value myself.”
Ethan scooped up the top prize of £2,000 for himself and £3,000 for his school, Enfield Grammar School, to be spent on a project of his choice.
Before giving his speech, Ethan explained why he chose to speak out about this topic:
“Because giving other people control of your own self-worth and happiness is the biggest mistake you can make.”
Watch Ethan’s winning speech, ‘It Doesn’t Get Better’ here.
The Grand Final judging panel that declared Ethan the winner was an esteemed group of highly influential individuals:
The runner-up position went to Zayd Ahmed of Little Ilford School, Newham.
Zayd spoke about the ongoing refugee crisis, asking for compassion and a time of change. On why he chose this topic, he said:
“I think it’s a duty to speak out for the people who do not have a voice or a platform.”
Watch Zayd’s speech, ‘The Dinghy on the Sea’ here.
Third place was taken by Kairo Reynolds of Dormers Wells High School, Ealing.
Kairo’s speech focused on knife crime and the need for more youth clubs. On why he chose this topic, he said:
“It is important for young people to speak to get their voices heard – for those people who are too afraid to speak, as well as for themselves.”
Watch Kairo’s speech, ‘Picture This’ here.
Fourth place was awarded to Inayah Martello from Dunraven School, Lambeth.
Inayah’s speech focused on normalising discussions on periods and that periods should not be considered taboo. On why she believes this topic is so important, she said:
“It’s time for change; people who have periods should be able to talk about it with confidence, not shame.”
Watch Inayah’s speech, ‘To Bleed or Not to Bleed’ here.
In the academic year 2022-23, we trained over 30,000 young people as part of Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge.
For all details on Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge which takes place across London and Essex, please click here. Last year also saw the programme surpass the milestone of training oracy skills to 250,000 young people since its inception.
Imani Ali from Belle Vue Girls’ Academy was announced the winner of the 2023 Yorkshire Speak Out Challenge at the Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds, on June 29th. In its second year, The Yorkshire Speak Out Challenge, sponsored and supported by 3i, reached over 4,000 young people in state schools across Yorkshire.
This year’s Judging Panel in Leeds comprised a mix of award-winning politicians, barristers and educators, as well as high-profile businesspeople and executives, all known for using their voices to make change:
Speaking directly to her audience, Imani opened with:
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”
Imani’s advice to women was “Never let a man or any individual allow you to feel weak. Never be silenced. Always fight for what you believe is right. And most importantly, let your voice be heard!” Her empowering speech was met with roaring approval from the audience and judges.
Watch Yorkshire Champion Imani’s winning speech in full here.
The judges were wowed by the 15 Finalists’ speeches. Senior Lecturer and Podcast host, Dr Peter Olusoga, said: “It’s so wonderful to see the confidence and the passion of these young people, doing something I wouldn’t have even dared to at that age. I was honestly blown away by what I heard” and Ruth Baldwin, Operational Director for the charity Action for Children, was delighted with the evening: “I was so impressed by the bravery and confidence of all the young people. They were phenomenal and gave me a lot of hope for the future!”
Imani Ali scooped up the top trophy and a prize of £50. When asked how she felt about becoming Champion, Imani said, “I’m so happy and proud of myself. The programme has really built my confidence. I’m so thankful!”
The runner-up prize went to Xanthe Gutch from Ilkley Grammar School, with a speech entitled “Words are a privilege”. On taking part in the event, Xanthe said “I’m so happy, it’s been such a privilege to have this experience. For young people to have the platform to speak out about things they care about is so special.” Watch Yorkshire Runner-Up, Xanthe’s speech here.
Third place was awarded to Lewie Dyson from Newfield Secondary School, Sheffield, for his powerful speech on creativity. Watch Lewie’s speech here.
During the academic year, each school received a free one-day workshop on public speaking and communication skills. The students’ confidence in speaking to an audience, without notes, was measured at the beginning and at the end of the day. During 2022-23, 76% of students increased their confidence to stand up and talk to a group of people.
Callum Kelly from Bishop Walsh Catholic School wowed a packed audience at the George Cadbury Hall, University of Birmingham on June 6th, and was announced the winner of the 2023 Birmingham and Coventry Speak Out Challenge. Now in its 6th year, over 850 young people in state schools across Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry took part in this year’s Challenge.
This year’s Judging Panel comprised a mix of award-winning politicians, high-profile businesspeople and charity executives all known for using their voice to give rise to change:
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Chaman Lal, presented prizes.
Speaking directly to the audience, Callum opened his speech with a poignant reminder: “The year is 1906 and you are a woman walking through the streets of London watching the men cast their votes, but in the eyes of the government you don’t matter.” He continues later with “Women should be paid the same as their male colleagues. Women should be able to make decisions about their own bodies. Women should be able to make decisions that affect their lives, and socially, women should be given the same respect as men.” His thought-provoking and empowering speech received an exhilarating reaction from the audience and judges.
He closed his speech with a compelling quote by Malala Yousafzai, “I raise up my voice — not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
The judges were wowed by the 15 Finalists’ speeches. Senior Crown Prosecutor, Aleigha Adams, said: “Wow. What an excellent event. I am in awe of the young speakers tonight. They should all be incredibly proud of themselves!” Liz Clements, Councillor for Bournville and Cotteridge Ward, was delighted with the evening, saying: “Inspirational speakers, with these young people the future of Birmingham and Coventry is bright!”
Callum Kelly scooped up the top trophy and a prize of £50. When asked how he felt about becoming Champion, Callum said,
“The experience was truly amazing and I feel blessed to have been able to take part, the thought of winning the competition was truly incredible and I would highly recommend the experience to anyone thinking of taking part.”
The runner-up prize went to Marigold Adu from Ninestiles, An Academy, with a speech titled “Me, myself and my melanin”. On taking part in the event, Marigold said,
“Thank you to everyone who helped organise the competition and my teachers who helped me prepare my speech, I’m so grateful to have been able to deliver my thoughts with confidence and meet so many new people I will always recognise and remember.”
Third place was awarded to Prisca Mbindu from Grace Academy, Solihull, for her thought-provoking speech on homelessness.
During the academic year, each school has received a subsidised one-day workshop in public speaking and communication skills. The students’ confidence in speaking to an audience, without notes, is measured at the beginning and at the end of the day. During 2022-23, 70% of students increased their confidence to stand up and talk to a group of people.
Watch a special commemoration film of the 2023 Birmingham and Coventry Speak Out Challenge here.
On Thursday, 22nd June, 15 students from across Sussex came together to compete for the Sussex Speak Out Challenge Champion 2023 title at Uckfield College, TN22 3DJ at 6:30 pm. The Sussex programme, which took place for the fourth year in a row, provided training to over 275 young people this academic year.
We were honoured to be joined by an exciting panel of community influencers to judge the competition, including:
We were also delighted that Uckfield Mayor Councillor Jackie Love presented prizes to the speakers.
Toby Douglass from Chailey School was announced the winner of the 2023 Sussex Speak Out Challenge.
Toby entertained the audience with his experience of writing poetry about household objects during lockdown, giving us an example: “There was a rubber duck named Jack, with two eyes of dark button black, he swam in the bath and oh how we laughed as he bobbed and floated along. Quack!” Toby shared his moment of realisation, “You see, I discovered a love for writing. Not writing well as you can see (!), but I decided to indulge myself a little further.”
Toby’s words of advice were well received by the audience:
“This is what I urge all of you to do. Through your passion, escape your deep dark hole. Find your world and everything in the weird, wiser one will sort itself out in the end. Because it always does. Always.”
Toby Douglass scooped up the top trophy and a prize of £50. When asked how he felt about becoming Champion, he said “I’m massively proud of the journey I went on with Speaker’s Trust and was overjoyed to meet all the amazing people. I’m really thankful to have had this experience.” Watch Sussex Champion Toby’s winning speech in full here.
The judges were thrilled by the diversity of the 15 Finalists’ speeches. After the event, Judge and Development Manager for East Sussex County Council Ben Baker said: “What an inspirational evening. Incredible showcase of young people’s talent and passion. The workshop skills have clearly given them a strong voice. So empowering. They will go far”.
Judge Councillor Abul Azad said,
“I highly appreciate the work of teachers and trainers and their dedication as they play a vital role in shaping the minds of future generations”.
The runner-up prize went to Florence Home from Chailey School with a speech entitled ‘The Paradox of Perfectionism’. On taking part in the event, Florence said, “I’m so overwhelmed. I never imagined this would happen and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. The experience was so enjoyable, but I feel so much more confident as a speaker today and all the levels and stages we have gone through have really helped me develop.” Watch Sussex Runner-Up Florence’s speech here.
Third place was awarded to Malcolm Benson-Rowe from The St Leonards Academy, for their powerful speech on friendship and sport. Malcolm shared a persuasive message, “Playing a sport can have astronomical benefits on your social development, learning ability and self-image.” Watch Sussex Third Place Malcolm’s speech here.
During the academic year, each school received a free one-day workshop on public speaking and communication skills. The students’ confidence in speaking to an audience, without notes, was measured at the beginning and at the end of the day. During 2022-23, 81% of students increased their confidence to stand up and talk to a group of people, and 93% agreed that they learned skills that they could use in the next stage of their education, training or employment.