Photo: Outgoing Youth Leader (Havering’s first), Alicia Murphy
An online election will be taking place today (Thursday the 9th of May 2013), to select one of three young candidates who wish to represent the views of their peers across Havering London Borough, as Young Leader. As the Borough’s website advises eligible voters, “The post holder will participate in the Havering Youth Congress, where they will listen to and represent your views. The Young Leader will meet with other young people, within the borough, across London and the rest of the UK, so that they can tell politicians what young [people] think and feel.” It goes on to say that they will:
- Advise Havering Councillors on youth issues;
- Represent young people in Havering, London and nationally;
- Develop ideas and work with other bodies to further younger people living, working and studying in Havering;
- Attend ceremonial events.
Here’s what these inspiring young people have to say about themselves…
My name is Alice Donohue and I am 20 years old. Over the past few years, I have been Head Girl at my School, the Member of Youth Parliament for Havering and Chair of the Havering Youth Council. I have also worked closely alongside the police as a member of both the CPCG and IAG panels I also co-run a charity with a friend of mine supporting young people and encouraging them to involved in volunteering and charity work.
I am keen and a good listener and I have done a lot of work with young people. As a young person, I feel the young leader role is perfect for me as I have already worked closely alongside the Council and have the necessary skills to take on the role! I am lots of fun and have bundles of energy. I am keen and ready to go and accept the challenge of being young leader whole heartedly and with an open mind.
I have been a positive role model from young. I have experiences in leadership roles ad Deputy Head Girl, House Leader, School Council Leader, Business and Enterprise Squad Leader and Deputy Sports Captain at the Albany School. I carried out these roles effectively and efficiently to the admiration and respect of my peers and teachers. I have been involved in local politics since 11 years old when my mother was the Civic Mayor of the London Borough of Hackney 2006-2007 and I was her official Consort. Along with my Dad we run free Maths tuition for young people in Havering at Myplace youth centre in Harold Hill. This project, which is the first of its kind in the Borough was launched by the Mayor, Cllr. Lynden Thorpe in August 2012. I’m also a Youth Leader at my church and one of my responsibilities is to organise fund raising events for local charities in Havering. I will be working with 5 Deputies; Peace Ugbeikwu, Mahria Fayyaz, Stacey Button, Nikhita Lester, Alex Kirby and Ryan Fernandes who will assist me in my duties as Young Leader.
- As Havering Young Leader I will hold surgeries for young people and promote a young citizen panel which will be open to any young person who wants to get involved in having a real say and a genuine decision making power within the Borough
- I aim to raise the profile of the young people of Havering and champion their cause effectively
- I will help to develop a link with the Council into the wider communication initiatives which will reflect young people developing interest in the wider community
- I will help the Borough to plan (organise and facilitate) youth conferences with/for young people across the Borough
- Initiate workshops with the police and local young people explaining issues of community safety and how they can contribute to their own safety to promote peaceful co-existence among youths
- I will aim to increase youth participation in politics
- I will be engaged in a project with other young people to produce a Directory of Services which will sign post young people to organisations dealing with a number of their issues such as health, careers, sports and advice.
- I will aim to promote healthy competition in sports and academics amongst schools in the Borough
I’m appealing to young people to vote for me because I have the qualities, the skills and the experience in leadership roles which will help me in fulfilling my role as Havering Young Leader
I’m part of an active collective including; Terrel Wilson, Rebecca Joseph, Fraser White, Andrea Whitaker, Dayane Rodrigues and Ajay Pabial. We dare to challenge current stereotypes and perceptions attached to young people. We don’t believe in figureheads, instead, collaboration. However, we made the exception to allege one individual as lead contact. We know that collective leadership can work within a political model; for example, the Green Party of Aotearoa, New Zealand.
We’re culturally diverse, embracing all age groups, genders, nationalities, sexualities and beliefs. We’ve had successful experiences working individually and collectively in our community, projects like The Outback Art House and NICHE.
I believe that the youth today have become passive; our solution to this is by engaging youths to become socially active, creating events and activities. Change is enforced upon us and we don’t react to it. We feel that young people are not listened to. We are taught not to challenge even though we feel it is wrong. As a campaign we want to empower and inspire young people to have a voice. As a collective we want to bring more opportunities to help young people develop basic skills such as confidence, communication, curiosity and independence to help them in all areas of life now and in the future, giving each individual a chance to achieve goals they have set themselves. I am aware that this opportunity is not for our selfish gain, but for the benefit of the youth of today. As a group of creative individuals we believe we can give a fresh new outlook on today’s society, and with our creative backgrounds, develop our campaign in a unique and stimulating way.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you will be aware that where I live in Port Talbot we have been creating a community garden, in memory of lives lost at the nearby steel works. Yesterday we were joined for an hour by several members of Swansea’s rugby team, the Ospreys, to shift several tons of topsoil, in order that planting could finally begin. As the work proceeded, the subject of youth volunteering came up, and how – despite the negative press that young people so often get – there are many around the country who are doing a fantastic job of supporting their local communities.
And as if further evidence was needed that youth volunteering is alive and well, here in this part of the UK, I read today about an excellent initiative organised in North Wales, over Easter, by Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB) – part of Bangor University Students’ Union. Eighteen students from the University, joined by two from Aberystwyth University, spent a week living and working at the Felin Uchaf social enterprise near Aberdaron, on the Lleyn Peninsula, where they helped erect a new timber-framed building, destined to house a library, archive and visitor centre. They also participated in land-management tasks such as willow coppicing, dry stone walling and planting, as well as traditional cooking.
For the last nine years the Felin Uchaf charity has been renovating a traditional Welsh farmhouse and its surrounding lands into a community enterprise and visitor centre, where they explore and promote green business initiatives and rural enterprises, and other ways of living in harmony with the environment.
This was the first such event organised by SVB, which was encouraged by the warm welcome the volunteers received at Felin Uchaf, and the team-working experience that the project gave the students, who came from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. It’s always great to hear such examples of how young people are helping to create a harmonious and sustainable future for society, and especially here in Wales. Well done, SVB!
And of course… many thanks to the Ospreys team members for their hard work at the garden, yesterday, despite the slightly adverse weather!
This blog has highlighted on several occasions the impact that sport can have on young people’s development, so I was interested to hear recently of an initiative in the South-West (of the UK) called Community Action Through Sport (CATS), which was set up in Bude, North Cornwall, eight years ago, to encourage youth involvement in the community by rewarding participants with opportunities to experience new sporting activities, as well as other “healthy living rewards”.
Created initially in response to a local anti-social behaviour problem, the CATS initiative now involves school, youth group, sports and police representatives, as well as the young people themselves, and sets out to improve the latter’s image in the area. CATS branches have already been established across Devon and Cornwall, touching the lives of hundreds of young people, and the securing of additional (Big Lottery & Lloyds TSB) funding means that the programme will now be rolled out across the rest of the UK.
There are five levels of CATS awards, and levels 3-5 are designed to dovetail with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Rewards range from a leisure swim with a friend (Level 1) to an ‘extreme sports’ weekend (Level 5). Sports and other celebrities are usually involved in the award ceremonies.
Although we have seen a number of schemes that use sport to encourage youth volunteering and leadership development, this is the first I have come across that actually uses sporting incentives as prizes – an interesting idea. CATS says, “Volunteering is the Inspiration, Recognition is the key, and Sport is the driving force.”
A new Community Award Scheme has just been launched in Bedfordshire, UK, to recognise the contributions to local communities by young people. Run by Biggleswade Sandy Lions, it aims to honour community or environmental work carried out by groups of youngsters between the ages of 9 and 20, over a weekend or longer – either as a standalone project, or as part of an ongoing scheme. Winning groups will receive a certificate and £100 to be spent as they choose.
The Lions want to encourage youth involvement, as they believe that not only will it benefit the community but it will also be character-building for the participants. This is exactly what we have been saying, at the Chreda Foundation – where we will also be launching a prize award scheme in a few months’ time. However, our scheme will be directed at individual young people.
To nominate a project for the Lions to consider, call Roger Wolburn on 01462 814967 or Judith Hagger on 0845 833 9749, and just tell them what will be done, when and where: they will then arrange to come and check it out.
The Lions are part of Lions Clubs International, a volunteer organisation consisting of 1.35 million men and women of all ages (and from all walks of life) in over 200 countries, who devote their time to serving less fortunate people locally and world-wide.
When the summer arrives, most teenagers will be relaxing, enjoying their holidays with mates – especially if they have just come to the end of their high school education. But eighteen-year-old Charlotte Adams from Southend, Essex (UK) will be heading off to India for a month, to work with the charitable trust Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta (EMC) … which for nearly thirty years has been offering rehabilitation services for single parents who live on the streets; setting up and running health centres; and working in orphanages and slums, fighting poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy.
Charlotte, who currently attends Southend High School for Boys, has to raise a total of £2,200 to make the trip. So far she has achieved just over half of this from fundraising and savings out of her part-time tutoring job. Now she has started selling her personal belongings on eBay to raise the extra funds: so far she has sold a significant percentage of her own wardrobe, as well as various other items.
Christian-motivated EMC is inspired by the belief that “each individual has intrinsic value and deserves respect and dignity”. This is something that we believe, too, here at the Chreda Foundation. We also believe that young people have much to offer the world, and it’s great to see this latest example of the kind of selfless activities that so many of them are engaged in. This is exactly the kind of altruism that we will be seeking to encourage when we introduce the Chreda Prize at the end of this year.