On Tuesday 19th January, I hosted the first Young People Insight forum in Project B. I came together with a group of young people who were willing to use their voices and speak out on what mattered to them.
As it was the initial meeting, my main focus was on discovering what issues were most important to each individual and what they wanted from Young People Insight. This enabled me to get an idea of what plans I should be putting in place and what we should be discussing going forward.
When I posed the question on what issues each young person was passionate about, I was met by a variety of answers that generated some interesting discussions. Issues raised included:
- Youth encouragement
- Bullying and youth violence
- Knife crime
- Youth mentoring
- Social mobility
- Promoting health and well-being among vulnerable communities
- Tackling poverty and homelessness
- Mental health and self harm.
However, the most common issue raised was the subject of employment and employability. This brought up the points of realising that a degree will not always get you a job, and also how some individuals are seen as “overqualified”, which we were all confused about. Nahed, who first brought up the issue of employability, expressed that she wants to find “that balance where I can be happy and income is coming through”.
This also branched into the topic of careers, with Andrae telling us that they care about your next job but they don’t care about your career. He said, “It’s about getting money, not about where you want to get in life,” which I don’t think we differentiate between anymore, which can be detrimental to a young person’s overall progression.
After discussing what issues were important to us, I then asked what each individual wanted from YP Insight and me as an individual, because it is essential that I do my best for the young people I’m working with. I want us to genuinely see changes taking place and for them to reap rewards as a result of being part of YP Insight.
So what did they want to get out of YP Insight?
- To know more about services.
- Networking – being able to talk to young people that are doing things we want to do; being able to speak to creatives.
- Trying to make a change
- Reaching out and seeing what other people think.
- To be able to put on more events in Croydon, such as film and music events.
- To see that there’s a difference being made and that we’re making a change.
- Motivational speaking or people standing up and telling their stories.
- An event where organisations come together.
What I found most interesting was the common want for collaboration, and having organisations or individuals coming together in one space, so that we can network and learn from one another. Most of the young people expressed that they don’t always know what is going on or what is on offer to them, which is something that I hear often, but collaborating and coming together on a regular basis could change that.
By working together and supporting each other, a wider group of young people could be reached. Alex made a great point about how if the youth organisations all promoted each other, then it would be easier for the word to get out and spread more.
I learnt a lot from this first forum, which has given me plenty to build on and a clearer direction for YP Insight going forward. I’m even more excited about what this year will bring and what I will learn from future discussions, but more than anything, I can’t wait for the changes we’ll bring to Croydon.