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Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has launched a ‘Mayfair Youth Forum’ to ensure this part of London works for everyone - regardless of age or background – by actively giving young people an opportunity to understand and influence its future.
For the first time in the history of the area, we’re actively inviting young people to have a say in the way this neighbourhood gets made and managed. This is one way that we’re delivering on the commitments made in our community charter, Positive Space, to ensure that everyone - regardless of age or background - has an opportunity to understand and influence change in their neighbourhood.
Given the uncertainty that young adults in London and elsewhere are facing at such a crucial stage in their lives, programmes like this are more than important than ever.
Exams have been disrupted and school leavers are facing bleak job prospects. Levels of unemployment for young people in Westminster are double that of adults aged 25-49 (Young Westminster Foundation) and job opportunities for 16-24-year olds across the UK have already fallen by 90,000 between August-October 2020 (ONS). This uncertainty about their future puts immense pressure on young adults, with 83% reporting that the pandemic had negatively impacted their mental health (Young Minds, March 2020).
So, it’s fundamental that the local community – including young people – should benefit from the opportunities which come from living in a thriving part of London. However, despite making up 25% of the national population, they are the age group we hear from the least. Research that Grosvenor published in October told us that 89% of young adults aged 16-18 have never been asked the future of their neighbourhood and just 8% had attended a public consultation.
This surely has to change. Young people should feel completely welcome in the neighbourhoods where they live, study or visit. But the truth is, developers and councils still routinely fail to understand or meet their needs.
That is why we’re now working with youth engagement specialists, 2-3 Degrees and 20 young people aged 14-18 who live or study in Westminster, to have a meaningful conversation about Mayfair’s future.
The Mayfair Youth Forum will initially use a new national youth engagement toolkit, called Voice.Opportunity.Power, to structure the conversation. This is based on a 5-stage process designed to give young people strategic influence over changes proposed to an area. It also includes an early intervention or ‘meanwhile project’ (see Session 4) that delivers positive change quickly and demonstrates to participants how their input can influence outcomes. Alongside the toolkit sessions, we are delivering a skills development and learning programme to help them grow into future leaders and offering work experience opportunities with the various teams at Grosvenor.
All of this has been put together with the young people themselves and here’s what some of them have said so far:
Roberta, 17, told us “having the opportunity to speak to people that work at Grosvenor, which is such a prestigious company, and knowing that your views are important to them, was really motivating”.
Mohammad, 16, was inspired by the set-up workshop. He thought it was “really promising to work with such an amazing group of people that can bounce lots of ideas off each other. I want to become a better leader and work with other young people to make sure that our voices are delivered effectively.”
Fatima, 15, reflected on the benefits of the programme and she told us “as young people we don’t get many opportunities to take part in activities like the youth forum, which really help us show our true thoughts and have a say in what goes on around us.”
The Forum will run fortnightly until Summer 2021 when we will review how best to progress it and potentially apply it to other neighbourhoods. By aiming for productive and open relationships we hope to learn more from one another and ensure this part of London thrives.
If you are interested in learning more, or know someone under-18 that lives or studies near Mayfair who would be interested in joining the forum, please contact [email protected].