The voice of the future – why youth voice matters

Last week, Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit hosted the first “Hope Hack”, a youth voice workshop which explored the issues and challenges young people face growing up today, focusing on the key question: “How do we make a fairer and safer society?”

Delivered in partnership with the Hope Collective, a grass-roots organisation which will run a series of events across the UK over the coming year, gathering the views of young people to inform their “Reimagined” report, informing national policy. The success of the event was that young people were front and centre throughout – hosting, facilitating workshops and leading feedback sessions. This blog is guest authored by Jerome Harvey-Agyei who facilitated on the day.

Jerome Harvey-Agyei

I was so proud to be part of the “Hope Hack” at the Madejski Stadium last week – it showcased everything about why it is so important to give young people the opportunity to identify the solutions to the challenges they face.

I have been working with the Hope Collective since 2000, when it was first imagined as a space for young people to be heard in a different light, to be seen as the solution makers.

I attended the first event in London as a facilitator and truly loved it hearing the solutions and ideas about how we can make society better for our communities. I then attended Oldham, Manchester, which again was a powerful day. It became clear that many of our youth are struggling with several angles of inequality and poverty, with the impact felt throughout our communities. We know that the drivers to violence, crime and community tensions are rooted in the inequalities and poverty that people encounter.

The Hope Collective has an approach to supporting events which give young people a leading role. We believe in creating the space in which they can talk opening about the issues that matter to them, share their experiences and think creatively about the solutions.

Importantly, we ensure that it is young people that lead the event and I am proud to be part of the team of facilitators who helped with the workshop discussions. It makes a huge difference.

Last week’s event in Reading was incredible; an amazing, inspiring venue, we had great hosts and an incredible team of facilitators who were able to support young people to share their thoughts.

It was clear from the conversations that they felt a sense that young people were often looked down upon, their role in society not appreciated and at times, some felt demonised and blamed. They were acutely aware of the inequalities that they face; from lack of opportunities, the challenges of cost of living, availability of housing, prevalence of racism and sexism and how they face great pressures.

The solutions they came up with were so simple but so effective and well thought through. From the basic need to having well-maintained public spaces to help make people feel safe, through to the need for constant education at all levels to help people overcome prejudice.

The energy and passion for change was second to none. All of the young people I came across were passionate about making the future better for all and they were so driven to be a part of that change.

For me this is what it is all about. Working with young people to come up with solutions and to make them realise that their opinions do matter, that they do have a voice and they can have the potential to make real change happen.

This is how we can change the conversation, involve young people in shaping the future and make a fairer and safer society.

Learn more about the Hope Collective on their website:

The VRU will be publishing a summary of the discussions and solutions presented at the Reading Hope Hack event shortly.