The last few weeks have seen eight Eton boys work with eight pupils from Eastside Young Leader’s Academy (EYLA) to produce a campaign encouraging more people to take the Covid vaccine. Eton has worked with EYLA in the past, an academy aiming to ‘nurture and develop the leadership potential, health and well-being of children and young people, especially Black and minority youth, empowering them to become the next generation of successful leaders.’ EYLA mainly works with pupils outside of school time, so the academy brings together people from many different schools and backgrounds across East London.

Across four online sessions, pupils from Eton and Eastside have worked to identify arguments both for and against taking the new Covid jab, how these can influence community support or rejection, and how a campaign could best work to increase vaccine take-up, especially in Black and Minority Ethnic communities. Ably lead by Ms Mehta, Eton’s Social Action Mentor, and Mr Ray Lewis from EYLA, there have been discussions in small groups, independent research on previously successful campaigns, and debates about persuasive techniques and language. Some argued for a very emotive set of videos or posters portraying the risk of death or serious illness that going unvaccinated can bring, while others preferred a softer approach, laying out both sides of the argument and acknowledging reticence.

Most recently, the group heard from James Clark, a Connections Planner at OMD UK, who works with brands like Mercedes to maximise their campaign reach online, and India Hill from OMG Unite, whose agency has worked with the government and 57 local newspapers to produce information on coronavirus for local communities across the country. OMG Unite’s work focuses on areas where there are cultural or language barriers, to target information that will be especially pertinent to these communities. It was fascinating to hear talks from both industry professionals, and the group is aiming to incorporate some of the tactics they learned about into their own campaign.

The Press Office will bring news on the campaign and its impact in the coming weeks. Special thanks goes to Ms Eleanor Chownsmith, the Eton Connect Co-ordinator, and Ms Carol Murraine from EYLA, who were instrumental in setting up these amazing talks and thought-provoking workshops.