Six UK-based creators are among those appointed as YouTube’s Creators for Change fellows. We spoke to Taha Khan and Leena Normington about what being chosen means for them.
Back in September 2016, YouTube announced the Creators for Change programme: an initiative focused on social change by providing resources to creators who are combatting issues such as hate, xenophobia, and extremism.
At the time of the announcement, YouTube named their first six creators as programme ambassadors, including the UK’s Humza Arshad.
Seven months after the Creators for Change launch, YouTube has announced the programme’s newest partners. 27 creators from around the world are participating, with the UK represented by Rosianna Halse Rojas, Myles Dyer, Leena Normington, Taha Khan, Sam Saffold-Geri, and Internet Citizens‘ Nadir Nahdi.
Fellows from other countries include: L-FRESH The Lion from Australia; Swann Périssé and Arthur Pires from France; Jette Lübbehüsen and Firas Alshater from Germany; Nikharika Nm, Them Boxer Shorts, and Sandeep Jha from India; Raja Gopalz, Gita Devi, and Jovi Hunter from Indonesia; Ashwaq Al Maskery from Oman; Özgür Turhan and Deniz Bağdaş and İlker Gümüşoluk from Turkey; Maha Abdelghaffar from the United Arab Emirates; Subhi Taha, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Taylor Behnke, Tasneem Afridi, and Evelyn Ngugi from the United States; and Ezaldeen Aref from Yemen.
*so much 🙌 *
— YouTube Creators (@YTCreators) April 20, 2017
Speaking to TenEighty about the importance of a programme such as this, Taha says, “To me, the Creators for Change initiative is a way for YouTube to be proactive in its role for social good. I think it’s important for not only YouTube as a platform, but also YouTube as a community. Especially now, when advocacy for social good on YouTube can garner such aggressively negative reactions from certain communities online, it becomes increasingly important for us to make sure that those who do advocate for social good are supported, and it’s really cool to see YouTube being involved in that.
“For our generation, the digital space and digital content have become our primary source of media consumption,” he continues. “I think it’s important for us to treat that seriously. The digital community has the ear of the people who will grow to form what society looks like in the future. As much as I love memes – and I do love a good meme – I also believe that we have a responsibility to help contribute towards that brighter future.
“Of course, the digital community isn’t the be-all and end-all of what the future looks like, but I definitely think it is a real, non-trivial factor,” he asserts.
The fellows will be working with the ambassadors to continue to tackle tough topics and spread positive messages. YouTube will be providing equipment and resources to enhance projects being worked on, as well as hosting “impact camps” exclusively for the programme fellows at various YouTube Spaces.
The purpose of these camps is to encourage collaboration between the fellows and the global programme ambassadors, through holding workshops on best practices for social change videos and one-on-one support from YouTube experts.
Leena shares that she immediately knew the kind of questions she’d like to tackle as a fellow, saying: “They’re topics I’ve been making notes on for years. Content that deals with discrimination and hate speech [is] never easy, but being given the space and support network of creators to bounce off, I know I’ll be able to make something much more coherent and valuable than I would have otherwise.”
She adds that being involved in the Creators for Change is “definitely a surprising but welcome leg-up when it comes to the hopes I had for my channel. By improving the quality and also being given the permission and resources to create something more ambitious, I’m hoping to be able to tackle some bigger issues and really unpack a topic in more depth.”
Taha agrees, saying that the best part of this project for him is the people involved: “It’s really great to chat to creators who are just as passionate about making videos on important topics (especially when you’re a huge fan of a lot of the creates involved) and I think chatting and learning from each other will make all of us better creators”.