Developing Young People Insight

Three years ago, I set up the Young People Insight blog.

Last year, I launched Young People Insight as a physical, interactive platform by holding the first forum.

Since that initial forum in January 2016, I’ve learnt, observed, trialed, and planned, laying the foundations for what this platform will develop in to over time.

It hasn’t been easy and I know that it won’t get any easier, but it feels worth it when I see all that YPI has done and think about all that it can do.  I’ve wanted to give up on a number of occasions and questioned if there is any use in taking it forward, but I know this is my purpose and I want to continue with the work I started.

The choice to continue was not an easy decision to make – it took time and intense reflection – but once I made my decision, I realised that some changes needed to be made.  After over 15 forums and eight poetry nights, it feels like the format has become a little stagnant.  I also had not come good on providing enough of what the young people said they wanted at the very first forum, or even spoken to a wide enough range of young people.

I know that YPI can not only do more, but it can be more.  The forums (this name is definitely subject to change) need to be fresh and a lot more interactive, with set action points we can take forward.  I want to add some new elements to the poetry nights, so everyone in attendance feels included in some way and the feel is not the same month on month.

The YouTube channels still needs to be added to.  A team needs to be put in place, as I cannot efficiently and realistically do everything on my own anymore.  More events will be coming, including workshops, interactive talks, a wider range of social events and more in line with the work that YPI was set up to do.

Most of all, I want to have a stronger focus on the community/family aspect of YPI, which I believe is part of what makes it so special.  I intend to take a stronger, personal interest in the individuals involved, so I can provide any support or direction to other services and events when possible.

These developments – and a lot more – will also contribute to YPI taking the steps from being just a platform to operating as a social enterprise (I’m already starting work on the business plan).

Overall, the core of the developments made will be suggestions and insights from young people, particularly those in Croydon.  It is important for YPI to be a youth-led platform for young people, with input from others so I am  not solely making the decisions.

One of the key ways you can help is by filling out the YPI survey if you are 16-26, which will only take a few minutes: http://bit.ly/ypi-survey

It is your input that will propel Young People Insight forward, allowing us to make a difference in our community and society as a whole.

The Game-changing App Developing Student Employability

Although you may be enjoying the bliss of the summer holidays now, in a few weeks it will be time to prepare for the start or return to university. The thought may fill some with glee and others with horror, especially when thinking about the prospect of money. Costs of living continue to rise, but the work load won’t let up and the last thing you want to do is fail.

This is where a new, innovative app like Toptask is a game-changer. Toptask connects university students to individuals and businesses, allowing them to find jobs around them without having to commit to part-time work.

Students are able to earn some money to keep their head above water, but in this case they are able to fit paid work around their study timetables. Jobs available to students on Toptask are also likely to pay more than your typical part-time job, as they earn a minimum of £10 an hour.

Many graduates will also recall the difficulty of finding a full-time job after leaving university without the necessary experience. Toptask provides students with the opportunity to “gain valuable work experience and develop skills that will help them kick-start their professional careers”, making it a brilliant resource that I wish I had access to when I was at studying at university.

George Holdaway is studying Physics MSci at University College London and has been using Toptask since August 2016. He says that “the tasks are challenging but rewarding, they provide one with an opportunity to stretch one’s own capabilities. It’s not like other student jobs, we are doing real things for real companies.”

Nevertheless, there is a major drawback in that the app is solely based in London, making its services less accessible for students outside of the city. However, Toptask’s marketing manager, Tatiana Middleton, hopes that the company will spread.

Founder Gregory Newman, who developed Toptask as a solution to a problem he had while on holiday, makes sure that Toptask practices what it preaches. Although it is managed by a senior team, the day-to-day running of the platform is carried out by a team of skilled students and recent graduates. This also includes generating all marketing materials, media and website content. The individuals running the platform also use the app themselves, bringing even more students in.

As well as bringing students in through using the app, Toptask “provides support to young achievers still at school through its scholarship programme.” A percentage of the fees paid are put into a programme that gives young people from all backgrounds the chance to attend university, meaning that employers are not only getting quality work done for a reasonable cost, but also positively contributing to the futures of young people.

Anna Smithson has used Toptask as an employer. She works for the company Airsorted, which ended up taking on two students they met through the app as summer interns. When describing her experience using Toptask, Anna says, “We’ve had some excellent temps who we’ve had either on a recurring basis or have hired as contractors for the summer. They’ve helped us assess the resource needed in a new area of the business and supported the current need while we develop new projects.”

Since its launch at the end of 2016, the app has signed up thousands of employers and students across London, showing that there is definitely a want and need for this type of service. Toptask is also working in partnership with several major London universities, which is likely to build its client base and further improve the services it offers.

University of Essex student, Bekhruz Khazratov, said: “Toptask provides a great opportunity for students to study and work at the same time. It is also very helpful for students to practice their skills while studying.”

As I mentioned towards the beginning, I believe that this app is a game-changer for students and the opportunities will be even greater if they are able to expand outside London. By using Toptask, students are more financially sound, while being able to focus on their studies and gain the experience they will need after graduating. What more could you want?