Supporting an energised challenge from young people to our elected representatives and civic institutions
- Are you under 18 and feel that you have little influence on what happens in your local community?
- Do you feel that your school, college or university could do more to fight for your interests?
- Do you worry about your future prospects when you finish formal education?
- Do you feel that politicians understand the challenges that young people face?
- Do you feel distant from the institutions that make major decisions on your life, such as Parliament and Whitehall?
- Do you feel you know how to make your views and opinions known to the people and institutions that take these decisions that affect your life?
- Do you feel you are getting the right advice, support and challenge about the choices and options available about your future?
- Do you feel that adults and society ‘believe’ in you and your potential?
- Do you feel safe when out and about, and in places and venues that you go to?
- Are you an adult that works with young people who despairs about the world that our young people are entering into?
- Finally, would you all like to do something positive about it?
The first three lines of the song ‘generics’ by one of my favourite artists, local (to me) musician Grace Sarah touches on some of the points above.
For me, the ‘figuring out if there’s a greener side’ bit involves questioning the people and institutions that hold the power. As one of my former directors in the civil service says in his blog: Question the powerful
Year 9 students succeeding where I failed
Year 9 students at Parkside Coleridge succeeded by lunchtime where I had failed in 2 years of campaigning and lobbying. (See here). They convinced the leader of the Labour Party group on Cambridge City Council that the council and councillors needed to significantly improve their understanding of issues teenagers face.
Now that they have convinced councillors to listen, this is the perfect opportunity for you to make your voices heard. Make suggestions, ask questions, demand action! All of the parties have some sort of social media presence. (See halfway down this blogpost for the main web and social media pages, or alternatively put a post up on ‘Shape your place’)
In support of this, my proposals are.
A city-wide sequenced programme of citizenship and civic action as students progress through secondary school, designed on open principles with young people taking a key part at design stage.
Annual ‘open space’ gatherings bringing together frontline youth workers, teachers, senior managers, young people, politicians and community activists to scope problems and solutions
Map the city on who is doing what for young people, and the facilities available. Work with young people on this and identifying what they see as the barriers to using those facilities too.
Promote the concept of a ‘safe city’ – recognising that young people have a higher chance of being victims of crime, bullying and harassment. Creation of save havens/save spaces for ‘drop ins’. Also promote the concept of consent – both offline and online. Training adults to intervene appropriately?
A co-ordinated offer for young people on volunteering, paid work experience and training from the private sector and employers. Even part-time shop-workers in f/t education should benefit from a city-wide minimum standard of training. Make it voluntary but something for all firms to aspire towards. (Think of who should design & accredit it).
Promote a culture of allowing young people to make mistakes and to learn from failure. Break out of the ‘life on a piece of paper’ mindset, because if people don’t learn how to handle failure when they are young, then we are setting them up for big falls later on in their career – falls that could end up on the digital front pages.
A significant improvement in the availability of counselling and mental health services for young people – taking what Centre33 does and building on it.