The youth rights movement starts here…..

Pioneering charity Youth Access today launches a major initiative aimed at empowering young people to use their rights to address social injustice

Young people facing a rising tide of housing, money and mental health problems all too often encounter creaking public services that aren’t responsive to their needs and that fail to uphold their rights.

Young people complain of being fobbed off by council departments that were established to protect them, shut out of mental health services, exploited by employers, singled out for benefit sanctions – and ignored when they try to speak up.

Arguably, no previous generation has experienced a greater need for the skills to navigate ‘the system’ as part of negotiating a successful path to adulthood. Yet few young people are aware of their rights, how to assert them or where to go for advice.

A partnership of funders and leading youth advice charities has come together to pioneer an innovative approach. Make Our Rights Reality (MORR) will:

  • Educate young people about their rights and responsibilities and how to tackle their everyday problems
  • Support young people to work collectively in their communities to address social injustice
  • Establish a national campaign network of young people speaking up for their rights

 James Kenrick, Head of Policy and Development at Youth Access (the advice and counselling network), which is leading the MORR project, says:

We hope this will be the start of a long-term social movement to connect young people with their rights and responsibilities as a vital part of their active engagement in civic society. We know from research that young people possess the lowest levels of ‘legal capability’ of any age group. As well as giving young people the tools to exercise their rights and responsibilities at critical points in their life, we want to support the youth and legal sectors to focus on rights as a tool for empowering young people – and on youth voice as a powerful tool for social change.”

Em, aged 25, a young person who participated in a pilot of MORR’s core ‘RIGHTS’ training course, says:

I really enjoyed it! I got the knowledge I needed to sort things out. I’ve already used what I learned to get compensation from my landlord for the damp and mould in my flat.

Annabel Hodgson, Chief Executive of No Limits, which is leading delivery of MORR in Southampton and Hampshire, says:

No Limits are so excited to be part of this national project promoting young people’s rights. Our Advice Centre in Southampton is seeing increasing numbers of young people who are bewildered and disillusioned – without our support they go round and round in circles trying to access services or claim benefits to which they are entitled. MORR will really help young people to help themselves.”

Dan Mobbs, Chief Executive of MAP, which is leading delivery of MORR in the East of England, says:

Young people have suffered a bigger proportion of public service cuts than any other age group – youth services and mental health provision cut. They aren’t entitled to the national living wage and can pay taxes without being able to vote. Young people are often expected to take responsibility without being given rights – the worst possible situation and found to be a factor in the Rotherham abuse scandal. Make Our Rights Reality is an opportunity to support young people to stand up for themselves and stay safe by learning about their legal rights and participate in campaigns aimed at improving life chances. MAP is 100% behind it and very proud to be one of the delivery hubs. We can’t wait to get started.”

Simone Spray, Chief Executive of 42nd Street in Manchester, which is leading delivery of MORR in the North West, says:

Navigating complicated but essential health, social and welfare systems can be so complicated. By teaching Public Legal Education, young people will become better equipped with the tools to not only navigate these systems, but also to realise their rights and influence future developments and I am particularly excited about how this approach can help shape services for young people in the new political era of Devolution.”

Catherine Hillis, Grants Manager at Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, says:

We are very pleased to be supporting Make Our Rights Reality. As a funder, we are interested in supporting work which promotes the rights of children and young people and in work that empowers young people to lead positive change in their communities. We are excited about the way in which MORR combines both these elements and are very much looking forward to seeing the work in action.”

Matthew Smerdon, Chief Executive of The Legal Education Foundation, says:

The Foundation is delighted to be supporting Make Our Rights Reality. We see the project generating immediate benefits for the young people involved in terms of greater knowledge and confidence to secure their rights. It will also promote young people's wider ability to work together to secure better services for themselves and their peers and to promote their role as citizens. Youth Access is a highly thoughtful and effective organisation. The local partner organisations are also all themselves leaders in the field. The project is poised to play a significant role.”


1. About MORR

Make Our Rights Reality (MORR) is a pioneering national programme designed to equip young people (aged 15-25) to take control of their problems and improve services in their communities by connecting them with their rights and responsibilities.

The project will take an innovative, integrated approach to public legal education and youth social action focussed on disadvantaged young people in community settings.


The programme will provide young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need to tackle their everyday rights-related problems.


It will give young people a national platform to campaign on their rights, encouraging a cultural shift in society’s attitude to young people and their rights.


It will give young people opportunities to take action in their communities on rights-based issues, so that they can address social injustice and create change.


As a result, we believe that young people will be empowered to engage in civic society as informed, responsible citizens with improved resilience, wellbeing and employability; and that public services will become more responsive to young people’s needs.

2. Project partners

The project is coordinated by Youth Access, the advice and counselling network. 

MORR’s programme of public legal education and youth social action will be delivered through three ‘hubs’ managed by highly respected youth advice services:

MORR is initially funded for three years by:

3. Further information

For press or project enquiries, please contact:

James Kenrick, Youth Access 020 8772 9900 ext. 25 / 07535 344881;

@MORR_RIGHTS #MakeOurRightsReality #MORR #youthrights