Common Purpose / 4 October 2023

University of Manchester partnership sparks “hope” for tomorrow’s leaders

"Our generation will be pivotal in shaping a greener future."


How can we transform Greater Manchester into a cleaner, greener place for all? This was the question 67 young people discussed before pitching their ideas to local leaders at the GM100 Legacy Programme, run by Common Purpose, and sponsored by The University of Manchester, RSM UK and Equans.

In July, the diverse group of 18 to 25 year olds coming from different cultures, backgrounds and with a range of different skillsets and interests came together to immerse themselves in the three-day programme, which would ultimately help them better understand the place they live, work and study, and how they can make change happen there.

The programme also saw participants meet a number of leaders across Manchester who shared invaluable insights, all while they continued to deepen their connections with each other – networks that will serve them as they begin their careers. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, closed the programme, sharing his vision for a cleaner, greener Greater Manchester and taking the time to really listen to what the participants had to say.

Along with providing them new opportunities to tackle the challenges that lie ahead, the programme also gave participants the confidence, and a sense of empowerment to take the first, second or third step in their journey towards building an impactful legacy. This kind of experience is a critical catalyst for a journey of this kind, said GM100 participant, Tom Hodgkins.

“I feel more confident that my generation can create the legacy we want for our city – Andy Burnham’s speech resonated with this point, I feel our generation will be pivotal in shaping a greener future."

By the programme’s end, Professor Jen O’Brien, The University of Manchester Academic Lead for Sustainability Teaching and Learning, said the energy in the room was nothing short of inspiring. 

“We live in an increasingly turbulent world,” she told us. “But responding to the challenging questions and listening to the great ideas of the GM100 participants gave me hope - not just for the future, but for now.”

She added that The University of Manchester’s involvement in the programme came from a desire to take tangible action in delivering some of its extensive research into the implementation and decision-making leadership required to fulfil the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility for The University of Manchester added: “Our commitment to social responsibility means that we prioritise opportunities to exchange knowledge and expertise with the public.

“Common Purpose’s GM100 Legacy programme has allowed us to share some of our vast teaching and research expertise across the UN Sustainable Development Goals with an inspiring group of young people from across our city region who will go on to be the decisions makers and sustainability professionals of tomorrow.”

It goes without saying that this is a space to be watched. Read more about our Legacy programmes here


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