By Deborah Aladerun, Youth Engagement Officer
I had the pleasure of attending the first National Young People & Place conference, hosted by the YPF Trust and Young Manchester in the incredible HOME in Manchester.
The conference aimed to explore; young people’s role in shaping communities, and how we can increase the impact of our work through collaboration. At the conference, we broke into breakout dialogues covering the following themes: the role and value of place in social change, supporting and celebrating nomadic lives, young people genuinely sharing power and owning spaces, funders as collaborators, local-regional-national: working within an integrated infrastructure and, successful and sustainable partnerships.
There was also a space where young people had stalls discussing issues they were working on or the conversations that they are trying to encourage related to youth social action. This included a stall co-run by #iwill Ambassador Lella on the Our Streets Now campaign, and a stall run by #iwill Ambassadors Gracie and Irys encouraging attendees to consider and write down ‘what connects us’.
The conference rounded off with an insightful conversation with Young Manchester’s Co-CEO Samuel Remi-Akinwale hosted by #iwill Ambassador Claire Madzura.
My key takeaways from the conference were:
- Co-creation, Co-creation, Co-creation. When creating anything with young people in mind it needs to be co-created with them. Young people need to have the opportunity to co-create at every stage of the design, delivery and evaluation of activities for the activities to be inclusive and impactful. It is not good enough for them to be an afterthought. Co- creation benefits everyone. The young people themselves benefit through skills development opportunities and well as feeling like they have contributing to something. The activities benefit too, as young people are expert in their on lived experience so know the specific solutions to the issues, they are facing which makes for focused and impactful activities.
- Place (which could be defined as an area) is important, but at the same time let’s not exclude those young people who don’t feel any affinity with a place. We need to be more flexible to ensure we are engaging those young people who have a contribution to make.
- There is a recipe for great partnerships. This recipe includes; A. Clear and shared mission, vision and objectives. B. Trust C. Clear delegation D. Lack of competing actions E. Effort and energy to make the partnership work by all means- being flexible is key. This is the approach Backbone Organisations take when co-ordinating various stakeholders into a single partnership and the approach can be adopted by anyone who endeavours to do the same.
- Be bold and take a chance on young people. In the words of Samuel Remi-Akinwale at the conference “If you are radical with it [your approach to working with young people], it will yield results”. Samuel discussed his own personal story to arriving as a Co-CEO and reflected on the fact that it was various people with more power than him that took a chance on him and gave him the opportunity to develop. When was the last time you were bold, and gave the power to the young person to do something out of the box? Giving a young person that opportunity may be risky, but high risks can lead to high rewards.
This event was a fantastic opportunity to join like-minded young people and peers from the public, private, and voluntary sectors and funders. I walked away even more passionate about enabling and supporting young people. Thank you to the YPF Trust and Young Manchester for the invite to this inspiring event.
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