When I was 19 and a student at Goldsmiths, I organised a series of DJing workshops in the student’s union for young people from local youth clubs. I did this to bridge the void that I saw between the privileged environment at Goldsmiths and the communities of young people growing up around New Cross. I was excited to receive recognition from Changemakers for this and, with hindsight, it was one of the moments I can point to that led me to the career I do today.
I’ve followed the journey of Changemakers ever since and would like to congratulate them today on merging into the Foyer Federation; a great step forward for young people in the UK.
There are three reasons though why I’m particularly excited about this merger:
More power to the Advantaged Thinking Movement
I’ve been really inspired by the Foyer Federation’s initiation and leadership of the Advantaged Thinking Movement over the last year or so. While harder than it sounds to put into practice due to the normalised negative narrative around young people, London Youth is committed to being part of something that ensures young people are the solution to their own and society’s problems rather than seen as the problem. The joining together of the Foyer Federation and Changemakers, after many years of collaboration, gives a stronger and broader profile for this movement to be led from and I’m excited to be part of it.
Social action beyond the usual suspects
Despite the huge investment and focus on social action in recent years with the introduction of vInspired and more recently Step up to Serve, I still see the majority of social action opportunities being filled by young people who are already doing fine in life. This of course is valuable in itself (as my DJing workshops I hope showed) but I’m particularly passionate about young people beyond the usual suspects being able to benefit from the confidence, team-work and planning skills that come from social action, as well as young people getting the chance to recognise that they can make change happen in the world around them. By embedding the approaches of Changemakers into the Foyer Federation network I think this provides a real opportunity to challenge a new generation of young people who have had a tough start in life to achieve potential not only for themselves but for the communities around them.
Putting mission before institution
One thing that has struck me in the two years I’ve been a Chief Executive is how hard it is to battle against the inclination to put your organisation before your beneficiaries. Despite my absolute passion for maximising the current and future potential of young people, I find that focusing genuinely on what is best for them, rather than just for London Youth, whilst ensuring sustainable services is not always easy. That’s why the increasing collaboration of the youth sector demonstrated by us all coming together for Creative Collisions – and even more so this merger – begins to lead an assertive path for putting young people first, and institutional ego second.
So I’m excited to wish Changemakers luck on the next phase of its journey and look forward to working closely with the Foyer Federation to make great stuff happen for even more young people