The problem

Leadership inequality in the UK is undeniable. There are not enough leaders from working class backgrounds.

Working class young people face constant obvious and often invisible barriers to achieving their leadership potential and few make it to the top. RECLAIM says it does not make ethical or economic sense to waste the talent of such a large section of the population.

RECLAIM’s goal is to end leadership inequality within a generation.

They aim to nurture and galvanise the talent of young people aged 12-15 who are natural leaders at risk of failing to reach their potential. They believe that children from all communities must be represented at all levels and in all sectors of society as adults, and that we need more pioneers who inspire others to achieve.

Over 850 young people have worked with the project from across the region.

Work in action

RECLAIM has successfully worked with young people from marginalised communities for a number of years. Their flagship programme, LEAD identifies young leaders and helps them develop their skills so that they go on and engage their local community or find work.

Big Change is working with RECLAIM to build on their experience and extend their impact to national scale through the Fairer Futures campaign. This programme has set out to bridge the gap that exists between young natural leaders from working class backgrounds and business, media, politics and education.

The Big Changers

Ruth Ibegbuna, RECLAIM Founder and CEO

Ruth Ibegbuna is the founder and CEO of RECLAIM, a multi-award winning social action and youth leadership programme with a focus on working class young people being seen, being heard and leading change. RECLAIM supports young people across Greater Manchester from working class communities. The project has worked with over 850 young people from across the region.

Ruth began developing the RECLAIM project in 2007 out of her frustration at seeing so much wasted potential in young people; often written off due to their postcodes or through appallingly low expectations of their outcomes. Her book, ‘On Youth’, showcases the stories of five RECLAIM Alumni.


Big Change granted RECLAIM £149k to support all three key stages of the project:

  • Planning  – hiring a researcher and project lead to develop a clear picture from RECLAIM’s members on where we are suffering from leadership inequality;
  • Research – consulting with researchers, campaign planners and social mobility experts on how to run the campaign most effectively, as well as building an influential cross-sector network of supporters to help advise and support the campaign
  • Campaigning – publish the research and launch a sustained campaign to deliver results against the issues identified in the research