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Young people

How Big Local areas are involving young people

July 2014

In July this year we held our first learning and networking event about Big Local and young people. We hope it will be the first of several on the topic. You can see photos from the event on our Flickr. We brought together some great examples from Big Local and beyond and we're pleased to share some of these stories and learning in this newsletter.

If you'd like to share how you're involving young people in your Big Local area, or you're a young person involved and want to tell us what you're up to with Big Local, please get in touch. We're happy to share your stories on our website and social media.

Debbie Ladds, chief executive


Leigh’s young people encourage more young people to get involved

This year an incredible 4.83 million people took part in the sixth annual Big Lunch. The idea, which came from the Eden Project, is to get as many people as possible across the whole of the UK to have lunch with their neighbours every year on the first Sunday in June in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.

Young people in Leigh West Big Local treated passers-by to a barbecue feast as part of a fun way to encourage more young people to get involved in Big Local and their local community.

The barbecue was funded by Leigh Neighbours project (Big Local) and organised by the Leigh Youth Council - Leigh Youth Voice.

Youth Voice member Leonie Bury, 14, said: 

"It’s really important that everyone in the local community knows more about the great work we are doing. It still seems to be the case that a lot of people think that young people cause a lot of trouble and anti-social behavior when in fact we are doing all we can to help improve matters.

We really believe that we should be involved in any project that looks to improve and regenerate the area because we are the future community. We want to have a real say in what happens."

Read more in this blog.


Co-chair of Leigh Neighbours project

Lisa Brew (above) is co-chair of Leigh Neighbours project - Big Local in Leigh West, and also ambassador of the Leigh Youth Council. She hosted a workshop at the Big Local spring event in Manchester in May, to talk about how young people are decision makers in the area.

In the short video shown below Lisa describes how she became involved in Big Local and the difference that young people being involved has made to the area. People's perceptions of young people are already changing for the better. Lisa says:

"It's good because the young people basically feel like they have a say and it makes them feel empowered, which is always good because they're gonna need those skills later in life. It's having that mutual respect between an adult and a young person in order to get them on board really".

Kirk Hallam Big Local

In Kirk Hallam young people have been working closely with Big Local through Kirk Hallam Community Technology & Sports College. Since some of the students first got involved through a competition at their college, they have run their own questionnaire which had responses from over 1,000 students, been part of the community chest panel and supported younger children from primary schools to contribute to the Big Local plan.

Oliver Cox, a young person in Kirk Hallam says:

"Helping to make the area better makes you feel good. Kirk Hallam is quiet and there’s not much to do so we want to make it better".

Hear from several of the students in this video.

You can read more about what young people have been up to in Kirk Hallam in their blog.


Different ways of involving young people

At the ‘young people and Big Local’ event, attendees worked together to come up with a range of ideas about how to involve young people in Big Local. These included creating events and activities aimed at getting young people out and doing things as an opportunity to talk informally about what they might like to see happen in their area. Other ideas included setting up more formal groups such as youth forums and parliaments to represent a youth voice on issues. You can see the ideas below.

Things that might attract young people to participate in a Big Local funded activity

  • something fun, such as a picnic in the park or a climbing wall
  • youth clubs / activity centres
  • DJ academy
  • music / dance workshops
  • other youth events involving music
  • parades / carnivals.

Creative ways of engaging and involving young people in Big Local

  • using video - young people holding the camera and taking shots of the area, maybe working with a media academy
  • local artists working with young people to explore their vision for the area
  • encouraging young entrepreneurs.

Meeting young people where they spend time

  • working with schools
  • attending local festivals and finding other opportunities to talk to young people.

More formal ways of ensuring young people are heard

  • Youth forums – serve as a way for young people to have a voice on issues of importance. However, it can be hard to find people to participate in these.
  • Youth parliaments – provide a formal representation of young people to work with other agencies. However, there are issues about whether they are truly representative of young people in general.

Slade Green's youth forum - it's a knockout!

Kyra-May Hudson and other young people from the Slade Green Big Local youth forum attended the Big Local spring event in Waterloo, London in May this year, to share how Slade Green have been getting young people involved.

In the short video shown above, Kyra-May, secretary of the Slade Green youth forum talks about their planned team event 'It's a knockout'. She says: 

"It’s a lot of fun, it’s not really about the competition it’s just about getting everyone together".

The Slade Green youth forum has also been organising and taking part in other activities, such as markets and 'bug trails' to get more young people involved.


DY10 Big Local primary parliament

Residents Brenda and Jayne in DY10, a Big Local area on the edge of Kidderminster, shared their experience so far of working with young people locally at the 'young people and Big Local' learning and networking event. You can see their presentation here.

With DY10 Big Local, two primary schools in the area have set up a primary parliament. Children are contributing to Big Local through this. They are debating what they think the local issues are and have a small sum of money to make decisions about how to use.

The children's first assignment as ambassadors for the project was to visit the Houses of Parliament in November last year. They met their M.P. Mark Garnier and asked him questions for 90 minutes on topics ranging from the bedroom tax to electricity costs.

Mark Garnier commented after the visit:

"The children from St Oswald’s and St Mary’s were able to raise some very important issues and it was fantastic to see so many of our young people engaging in politics and really thinking about issues that effect their area".

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