On Thursday I attended the Youth Summit, focused on the mission: ‘by 2025 all young people should have access to economic opportunity’. There were over 60 of us on the call, including Georgia Gould, Angela Mason, Martin Pratt and Christine Gilbert, along with a significant number of young people; chaired and facilitated very efficiently by Malika and Balicia. The informal session offered an opportunity for us to imagine what success might look like – to share insight and to talk about big and small ideas which could enable the mission to be achieved.

It is not often that we are provided with the opportunity or space to unleash our imaginations and bring together all of our experiences, lived and professional in one place. The past year has brought huge challenges and changes to people’s lives. Covid-19 has shone a spotlight on inequalities that exist in our society, and in some cases, exacerbated these disparities. It has highlighted that the economy we have is not working for everyone. There are many inspiring and impactful projects led by and supporting young people already underway in Camden and so much opportunity and energy for more to happen. Camden Learning has just concluded a review of Post-16 provision and a comprehensive survey of young people and parents/carers to really get underneath some of those challenges related to the economy, business and access to training.

This session was a great opportunity for us all to share what’s working well from our knowledge and experiences and where change is needed. We were challenged to think together about how we can imagine a better and bolder future for Camden. How we can bring together people from Camden communities, organisations and institutions and galvanise action to make sure that no young person misses out on life opportunities that enable them to thrive. Ideas from the various groups focused on enabling and including young people in the actual conversations and decision making, distributing the power and most notably moving from talk to action. We have seen a strong sense of localism and activism from our young people with the Black Lives Matter, climate change, raising the issue of inequalities in access to devices and quality tutoring to name a few, there is a definite growing sense of civic governance. It really made an impact on me, particularly when young people articulated their fear of increasing debt by going onto university, wanting a greater sense of community and solidarity with neighbours and a safe space to chat and access free broad band for all.

In summary, Marianna Mazzucato challenged everyone to move to action and outline the metrics for impact. Who holds the power? Everyone holds responsibility, young people too have a responsibility to make a change and contribute.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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