In May this year, Matter&Co co-curated the UK’s leading youth sector event. Sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, Creative Collisions 2017 was a collaboration between some of the UK’s most inspiring youth organisations, getting young people and the youth sector together to explore issues we are all concerned about; social mobility, youth engagement, identity and skills for the future.
Whilst we were there, we joined up with Podium Me to ask young people to speak out about what they would want a new prime minister to do for them. Watch their passionate pleas in our Dear Prime Minister film here.
As the election buzz starts to settle down, guest blogger and fellow young person Caroline Hailstone, shares her main takeaways from the day.
The UK’s largest youth charity event could not have come at a more poignant time this year, just weeks after June’s snap election was called.
The young attendees of Creative Collisions did everything to counter young peoples apathetic reputation. With them came a wave of debate, opinion and challenge. They made one thing very clear: young people feel ignored by the government.
North, South, left and right came together at the daylong event to discuss important issues affecting the youth sector today. They had a lot to talk about. One of the first speakers of the day, Hussain Manawer, certainly got everyone thinking. He seemed to be a bit of everything: youth mental health charity ambassador, spoken word poet, and the first British Muslim in space. He captured the room with his informality. Instead of adhering to formal conference rhetoric, you felt as if you were having a chinwag at the bus stop with him, and his raw self-belief left an impression on me for weeks to come.
I also thoroughly enjoyed a debate entitled “The Gender Agenda”, with a panel including representatives from the Girl Guides and Mermaid (a charity supporting transgender youth). They covered everything from unisex toilets and keeping girls safe on their walk home, to provisions for transgender children in hospitals and schools. It left me challenging my behaviour. Is treating boys and girls differently always a bad thing? Do I treat my nieces and nephew differently according to their gender?
The highlight of my day, though, was finding out the range of ideas and beliefs of youth organisation representatives, many of whom inspired me with their articulate views. I had come as part of a team from Podium.Me and Matter&Co. to capture the day on film, and we asked many attendees to write their own letter to the new Prime Minister on the 8th June down the camera lense. “Dear PM, why are you cutting youth counselling services?” a 15-year-old representative from mental health charity, The Mix, in Liverpool asked. She said she had been visiting a councillor provided by her school up until two years ago, when one they simply stopped turning up after funding was cut. Similar pleas followed. “Don’t cut PSHE classes!” the Girl Guide representatives appealed, while a young spokesperson from UK Youth asked the PM to “stop closing hospitals”.
For me their letters clearly expressed the most obvious reason young people are less likely to turn up on voting day: they feel marginalised and ignored by politics. We met one youth worker passionate about the use of young people as “pawn” in politics without much substance. An 18-year-old NCS leader summed up the feeling in her question for the Prime Minister. “Why don’t you listen to us?”