As we enter into the festive season I would like to take this opportunity to share some good news with you. I am pleased to announce that our Annual Review 2014/15 can now be downloaded here, which highlights what a successful year we have had and the positive impact of our work on young people and those who work with them.
Meet Imran Razzaq – a 45 year old, who is a Director of Cloud Services at Microsoft. For the past two year’s Imran has put his body on (and over the line) to complete the gruelling 26.2 miles of the London Marathon for UK Youth. During this time Imran has managed to raise a total of £21,000 for UK Youth – helping us to support young people throughout the UK.
We decided that we would put Imran back through his pace’s and ask him how he got through the Marathon experience (twice!)
It’s time to speak up this week as its European Local Democracy Week.
Running from the 12th-15th, European Local Democracy Week (ELDW for short) is an annual European event where local authorities from all the 47 member states of the Council of Europe organise public events to meet and engage with their citizens on issues of current interest. The aim is to promote and foster democratic participation at local level. This year’s theme is ‘Living together in multicultural societies: respect, dialogue, interaction’, with the aim of stressing the importance of local democracy as a route to building a united and democratic Europe.
This year’s Conservative Party Conference was an incredible experience for me as a young adult. There was always an exciting atmosphere wherever you went; whether it be attending a fringe event, watching one of the ministerial speeches, queuing for an event, or just sampling walking around the exhibition zone.
For most of the first two days I based myself in the Youth Zone so I could represent UK Youth at all the various fringe events regarding young people’s issues. One thing that struck me throughout these events was that most of what affects young people is actually the same as the rest of the population: it just has to be articulated in a different way.
It was a great pleasure to shadow the CEO of UK Youth, Anna Smee. At the events she gave some excellent answers about the skills young people need in our increasingly digitised global economy. Conservative MP Chloe Smith, who is an outstanding advocate of youth affairs in Parliament, also did an excellent job of chairing the many panel discussions.
One of the highlights of the day was discussing ‘if you could ask Jeremy Corbyn to change one thing, what would it be?’ I only wish Mr Corbyn could have been in the room to hear the passion and conviction of the answers. A lot of the group felt quite strongly about university alternatives – they thought uni was very expensive, considering graduates can struggle to find jobs. They also said that the pay for entry level jobs often isn’t enough for them to support themselves without the help of their parents. Young people want to have solid alternatives to further their education where they feel ‘valued and respected’, and are able to sustain themselves without having to live in poverty.
What happens when you take young people from different areas and organizations and throw in some politicians? Well the result will shock you as it shocked me. At the Liberal Democrats party conference in Bournemouth there was no shortage of young people who were passionate and enthusiastic to make their voices heard by the people who could make a difference.
As part of the Youth Zone event party members and youth charities got together to debate policies for young people. I joined the charity UK Youth and O2 Think Big to discuss Education and Skills with Lord Storey and Lorely Burt who lead for the party on those areas. I had concerns about opportunities and programs to help young people become more confident and teach them life skills that truly matter and the truth is I thought I was the only one. In fact the majority of people I spoke to and heard from had the same views.
As part of their #UpgradeYourWorldUK campaign, Microsoft have generously provided UK Youth with funding to support our new initiative, Youth of the Year Awards
This awards ceremony, held inside Buckingham Palace, will celebrate and promote the great work that young people do outside of formal education with their youth clubs or youth organisations. A young person from each nation (Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and England) will be selected to receive an award and grant to honour their achievements and difference made in their local communities.