John Loughton started to take social action and volunteer from the age of 11. It began within his local
community helping pensioners, and working with other young people who lived in poverty. This
involved setting up a North Edinburgh Young People’s Forum – that looked at local and international
issues, such as HIV AIDS, engaging in the decision making process and cultural appreciation. John would also do things creatively. At 14, he wrote a poem called ” Speaking to A Racist” Which was:
“Racism is not always about skin colour,
its also about beliefs,
just because your skin is different,
we’re not underneath.
They grew up with feelings and family
Just like me and you
So in future, think BEFORE you do
You make them feel sad, and very unwanted too,
all because you said, you’re different,
Im better than you.”
John went on to be elected the youngest ever chairman of the Scottish youth parliament and was passionate to look outwards across the world and reach the most disadvantaged young people. This included running a youth awareness campaign that resulted in over 20,000 people getting involved with. He also set up and run youth support programmes between Malawi and Scotland as well as promoting the values of the Commonwealth at the European Union Summits. Further down the line, John chose to focus his entire life and career on youth and international development. He volunteered up to 70 hours per week totally unpaid to help establish the CIVICUS World Youth Assembly, the first of its kind. Alongside Civicus and Oxfam, this forum gathered over 200 young leaders from 75 different countries of the world to discuss development and diversity issues relevant to youth.
John left his full time job to volunteer fully to the Commonwealth. This included putting in thousands of hours volunteering to help with initiatives such as helping Plan the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Forum in Australia. During this John was unusually elected by his peers – regardless of being a Brit within the Africa region- to represent Africa to the Heads of State CHOGM dialogue.
Since then John has continued to actively engage in Commonwealth activities. These include him organising and hosting an “Our Commonwealth: Our Future” Parliamentary Event in Westminster, bringing together 100 young people across the UK to learn and discuss about the Commonwealth. John also volunteers for the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council by sitting on their Youth Advisory Committee and also now a Trustee of theirs.
Perhaps most notably of all, was John’s life decision to leave his job and set up a Commonwealth youth leadership social enterprise, called Dare2Lead. He commits his full-time attention to Dare2Lead with objectives on empowering young people, developing emerging leaders’ skills and promoting
internationalism and cultural exchange. Their most recent programme seem John (along with Kusala Fernando) come up with an idea for an innovative Commonwealth Youth Exchange between Sri Lanka and the UK. Not a single adult was involved in making these decisions. Everything from securing funding, writing objectives, organising flights and visas, were led by John and his team. 16 young leaders were selected from all corners of both countries, and the programme received huge success. They appeared on national television and newspapers and actually directly worked with over 2000 young people. They also mobilised support from both High Commissions, the CPA and other NGOs to run this programme.
John would be a great role model who shows that hard work, commitment, passion and values CAN change the world. John shows that is doesn’t matter that you grow up in a single parent, workless household where drugs and crime and violence is a daily reality, you can still achieve against the odds.