Sometimes you only have sixty seconds to change the world

This is Ijeoma:

Young black woman with great hair, on a stage, with a microphone, speaking out into a crowd of people.
Ijeoma Moore speaking at the Citizens UK Mayoral Assembly, 28th April 2016. Photo: Chris Jepson.

Ijeoma is from Let Us Learn (LUL): a youth-led movement for access to higher education in the UK. Since 2015 I’ve had the privilege of training and working with LUL. In 2016 we built a campaign together, along with another youth movement called Stand Up Stand Out.

It was the time of the London mayoral election; an opportunity. Our aim was to persuade the mayoral candidates to create a Deputy Mayor of Integration. One of their responsibilities, would be to support 80,000 young people access their legal right to citizenship.

We identified two big problems:

  1. It was not a key priority for the candidates
  2. Our issue does not pass the dinner table: most people haven’t a foggy idea about citizenship

The charity I worked for at the time, Citizens UK, was delivering the biggest Mayoral assembly in UK history. I was given 3 minutes stage time. One minute was for Ijeoma.

This is what Ijeoma said:

A minute before no one was thinking about citizenship. A new Deputy Mayor was not in their imagination. In sixty seconds Ijeoma’s moved 7000 people to their feet. This moved the candidates to say yes and within the year we got a Deputy Mayor for Integration.

Here he is with Ijeoma and some of the amazing folks at Let Us Learn. He is the tallest guy in the picture:

Matthew Ryder in a room with young people. They are all smiling because they won something amazing and Matthew Ryder is great.
Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor of Integration with the talented Let Us Learn. Photo: Let Us Learn

We can all be like Ijeoma

Ijeoma is not a professional public speaker and was nervous as hell. Her story was personal, vulnerable and real. Her courage and belief in the issue was greater than her fears. Ijeoma changed the lives of thousands of young people in a minute. When something matters to us, we make time for impossible things to happen.

Story and structure

Now you have your story, you need an Ijeoma structure. It is made up of three main elements: challenge, choice and outcome. Structures keep our stories clear and concise, so others know exactly what they must do, to make change happen. This is how Ijeoma met those three elements.


Ijeoma is not a citizen of the UK, despite living here since one years old. She can not get a student loan to access university, or live the same life as her friends. Due to a reckless system, Ijeoma was illegally detained at 15 years old and put in a detention cell for 6 weeks.


Ijeoma could have given up, got mad or tried to run away. She decided to join LUL and fight for her rights and young people’s access to university. Ijeoma is courage.


Ijeoma’s efforts have brought her here tonight to offer a solution; create a Deputy Mayor for Integration to support children’s access to their legal right to citizenship. Mayoral candidates and the 7000 people in the room say yes.


Structure your story

Pick one of the stories from your timeline. Here we give it some structure.


What is the challenge of your story? Why do you feel it is a challenge? What makes it personal to you?


What is the choice you made and why did you make it? Where did you find the courage? How did it feel making that choice?


What was the outcome of the choice? How did the outcome feel and why? What did it teach you? What should it teach us? How should we feel?