In August 2017 we held our first Groundwork Youth Summit in Birmingham.
Our summit brought together our 100 Young Green Ambassadors and Youth Advisory Board members, as well as our colleagues from across our 20 trusts and our friends from other youth-facing, environmental, and community organisations.
Following a highly successful recruitment drive, our inaugural Youth Summit saw our ambassadors, practitioners, trusts, partners and friends alike spending the day at The Studio participating in masterclasses in public speaking by Speakers Trust, Responsible Internet Citizenship by Child Net, video making and editing by our very own in-house Communications team and of course, an introduction to campaigning by Friends of the Earth.
Our jam-packed programme also included a youth panel featuring inspirational young speakers - Tom Boon, Aliyah Hasinah, Sarah Adesikun, Emily Long, Lili Sarkadi, and Hamaad Akhtar – representing organisations and initiatives such as Advocacy Academy, Re-Think Mental Illness, Reclaim Project, and Friends of the Earth. The focus of our discussions was addressing the big and topical question: ‘What are the key issues affecting young people in 2017?’
We launched a poll on Twitter the day before the Summit and also during to see what the consensus would be – if there even was one. Although issues concerning identity, social mobility, education and the environment were of concern and focus for our young people, overwhelmingly youth mental health and wellness scored highly in our opinion poll as an area of worry.
As well as exploring this throughout the day, in our staff sessions, young people again took the lead; activists like Regina Adeleke emotively and eloquently told us why they were so passionate about the work they were doing for initiatives like Reclaim project in Manchester. Practitioners, partners and young people put their heads together to explore the issues affecting the youth, green space, and charity sectors and what could be done to overcome these.
Contrary to the constant and grating mainstream narrative denouncing young people and claiming they are not interested in their local, offline communities, the young people working with Groundwork and all those we’ve met along the way as we’ve developed the Groundwork Youth programme are interested and want their voices to be part of the conversation.
Read more about our Youth Summit in this post by our Campaigns & Communications Officer, Siana