#YoungAndBlack: Raising Voices for Change Youth Voice Campaign Launched

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Organisations have come together to launch the #YoungAndBlack campaign. A space to share, listen and learn from the experiences of young Black people. Campaign-leads include UK Youth, activist, Jermain Jackman, My Life My Say and The Diana Award.

Collectively, we have been inundated with heartfelt cries and appeals from young Black people right across Britain who feel they don’t have the opportunity or even the right to share their thoughts and experiences on racism in the UK and beyond.

They see organisations and individuals grappling with whether they should make formal “statements” to categorically denounce the brutal murder of a Black man that has flooded our screens. They hear the debates suggesting that racial inequality isn’t a problem in Britain, and they are confounded.

We also hear from young people of all races who want to have the space to understand the experiences of their Black peers, space to discuss race and discuss what needs to change to create a just society, equal for all. While many organisations remain silent, young Black people are left devastated, feeling abandoned and unseen.

We recognise the power of storytelling to create empathy and change. We recognise that being seen and heard is required to achieve justice. True system change will only come when we are able to discuss the role race plays in all parts of our society.

Windrush, Grenfell, Macpherson Report, Stop and Search, COVID-19… enough is enough. It’s time to see real change happen. We can already see that young people of all races are calling for organised, mobilised action. We will not leave them alone in this pursuit.

We want young Black people to be in control of their own narrative, sharing their thoughts on what it means to be #YoungAndBlack in Britain. We are calling for organisations right across the UK to bring forward their range of expertise and collaborate to pro-actively listen to the voices of young people.

Through an online campaign and a series of events we seek to truly illuminate and create safe spaces for young Black people to share stories, connect and highlight their personal experiences of being #YoungAndBlack in Britain. But this isn’t about one race talking to itself. We believe that true social cohesion starts with real understanding. That journey starts with active listening. Let’s boldly work together to foster more understanding as we amplify young Black experiences in Britain.

Call to Action:

  • Organisers are now asking young Black people, students, youth organisations, celebrities, professionals and more, to use the campaign hashtag to create and share short stories on social media, reflecting on what it means to be #YoungAndBlack in Britain today.
  • We are calling on youth organisations, schools, media and brands to offer their platforms and create the space to listen to young Black people as they share their stories. Individuals and organisations can sign up to hear more about how to get involved in the campaign here.

#YoungAndBlack events currently scheduled include:

Ndidi Okezie, CEO of UK Youth said: “My biggest heartbreak has been the messages from young people who are feeling silenced and abandoned. As an organisation, our mandate is to amplify the voices of young people and ensure they have the support they need to thrive. The time is now for a real conversation on race. And it needs to start with the voices of our youth. They must be empowered to believe they have agency to create change. I believe in the power of our humanity so I know that the stories from this #YoungAndBlack campaign will matter.”

Jermain Jackman, Activist and Co-Chair of Hackney Young Futures said: “The recent events reminded me of the shared experiences of being young and Black in this country. The reality is that we don’t have any spaces to share the stories of our experiences or even discuss what it means to be young and Black in Britain. The stories behind the statistics we see in countless reports, need a platform to be heard – we must control our own narrative. If you’re #YoungAndBlack, you have a story to tell about your experiences growing up in this country and we want to hear it.”

Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award said: “At The Diana Award we empower young people to be vocal and see that they can make change happen. #YoungAndBlack will build the capacity of young people – giving them the opportunity to be heard and a platform to amplify their voice. This is a hugely significant moment.  We need to wake up to this level of disparity and make change.” 

Mete Coban, CEO of My Life My Say said: “In the last couple of months, we have been collectively battling coronavirus. In 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the world was reminded of an existing disease — racism. Now more than ever, we cannot deny the outcry for an end to racial injustice. Although the reality is grim, the level of mobilisation amongst young people has been remarkable. This is our moment. Together through #YoungAndBlack, we can uproot and change the narrative by sharing these stories far and wide. At My Life My Say, we are proud to amplify the voices of young people.”

– ENDS –

NOTES TO EDITORS

About UK Youth
Founded over 100 years ago, UK Youth is a leading national charity that exists to ensure all young people aged 9-25 are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. UK Youth provides young people with life skills, delivered through a network of local youth organisations which make up the UK Youth Movement.

The UK Youth Movement is made up of over 5,500 local youth organisations across the UK. We deliver innovative youth services with a focus on personal and social skills development to more than 100,000 young people every year. We grow effective practice and campaign to increase support for all young people in the UK and the 1.6 million young people reached through our network.  To find out more, visit the UK Youth website.

About Jermain Jackman
Jermain Jackman, born and raised in Hackney, combines his musical talent with pursuing his role as a political activist. He was crowned winner of BBC’s The Voice UK in 2014, tagged as being the ‘Singing Politician’ by Sir Tom Jones and referred to as Britain’s first singing black Prime Minister. 

Former chair of Islington’s Fair Futures Commission and currently the co-chair of Hackney Young Futures Commission, youth advisor for the National Citizens Service, studying Politics at University, and in 2016, named in the Top 10 Black Student in the country, Jermain is determined to use his voice as a tool for social change. He enacts change by going into youth clubs, schools and estates, not simply to talk to young people, but, crucially, to listen to what they have to say. He is concerned that too often young people’s voices are ignored. As such, Jermain is determined to raise awareness of youth feeling disenfranchised and without opportunities, as the first step towards finding and delivering solutions that address the complex issues they face. 

About The Diana Award
The Diana Award was set up in memory of The Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world. The charity fosters, develops and inspires positive change in the lives of young people through three key programmes which include; a mentoring programme for young people at risk, a youth-led anti-bullying ambassador campaign and a prestigious award which publicly recognises young people – The Diana Award.

About My Life My Say
My Life My Say (MLMS) is a youth-led, non-partisan charity on a mission to empower young people to participate in democracy, by creating spaces for dialogue across communities and generations, and by providing young and socially excluded citizens with the tools to lead change within society.

MLMS won the UK Government’s 2018 National Democracy Change Makers Award, which recognises an organisation that has put a new idea forward to increase access to democracy, convinced others of the merit of their idea and affected a real change that benefits the greater good.

MLMS has proven its ability to influence policy and empower young people across the UK and Europe. It has garnered the praise of the UK Government, Mayor of London, European Commission and European Parliament.  This is because MLMS has gained a unique understanding of how to engage with “hard to reach” communities and to revolutionise their approach to electoral participation. MLMS are also proud members of the UK Government’s National Democracy Council helping advise the Cabinet Office on their democratic engagement strategy

For further enquires:
Please contact communications@ukyouth.org or call Lizzie Walmsley, Head of Communications and Marketing at UK Youth on 07455521883.

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