The top priority for us as Labour Councillors is the life chances of the young people who grow up in our area. For too many, the opportunities that living in central London should present fail to be realised, with many of our young people lacking the right social networks, the confidence or finances to go to university, or missing out on work experience and opportunities to peers who have pushier and better-connected parents.
We want everyone in our community to take a role in seeing all young people round here achieve their potential. No one would hesitate to open a door or lean on a contact for their own kids; we want to make sure that we do that as a community for everyone.
Young people don’t want charity. They want to be empowered. And it is therefore for young people themselves to express what their hopes and dreams are, how they think the area and lives of young people could be improved, and how best to lobby for these opportunities.
This is why last night we as local Councillors sat down with 25 young people from the local area, either living here or going to school here, for to listen to them about what they thought would get other young people engaged in our North Lambeth CLIP. The Young Lambeth Cooperative facilitated this discussion, and hearing from so many young people who spoke confidently about their field – what young people want, and how they should be asking for it – was inspirational.
Young people spoke to us about the need for work experience and job opportunities. Lots wanted an employment and skills hub which wasn’t in a library (because “that’s where all the old people go”). Some wanted to go to Oxford University but didn’t think they’d be able to afford it. Most wanted a safe space to go after school to socialise with their friends and do activities, and not have to hang outside the shops, as that was the safest place to go.
The young people we met yesterday came up with some brilliant ideas about how best to advertise and get young people involved – using videos or music, better designed posters and postcards which had young people on them and, of course social media. Instagram and Snapchat are officially in, Facebook is officially out, because “everyone’s mum uses it now”. These young people made me feel a lot older than 35! They said that ‘CLIP’ and ‘Investment Priorities’ were not good words to be using for young people, and they weren’t really clear where North Lambeth actually was. And so is born #NoLa (meaning North Lambeth).
They also spoke about segregation – that they feel some residents see a group of black ‘youths’ outside their shops and immediately jump to negative stereotypes. They also said that sometimes they feel invisible, left behind others that are doing alright, and that no one was looking out for them. But they were also optimistic and enthusiastic, and they have high aspirations and ambitions and feel like they deserve them (mainly to make lots of money!).
We walked away confident that, through their voice and the investment CLIP will bring to their lives, our local young people can achieve whatever they want, with help and hard work, pulling together the huge resources that this area has to offer.
If you know a young person, either because you are a parent, guardian or friend of the family, or you are a youth worker or in some other way connected to young people, then please encourage them to sign up to the Young Lambeth Cooperative where more information will be coming out about our consultation for CLIP, activities and things to do.
Or perhaps you are someone who could offer a work experience placement or an apprenticeship or training to one of the many young people in our area? Please get in touch.
In the New Year, there will be school assemblies at each of our local secondaries and primaries; discussion groups and videos by youth clubs like Streamz in the Crypt at St Marks Churchyard, and Alford House just off Kennington Lane, as well as our two Adventure Playgrounds by Ashmole Primary and Lollard Street. CLIP will firmly put young people at the centre of this priority setting…sorry #Dollar4NoLa
Now where’s my Insta?