INVOLVE YOUTH SOUTHWARK

Involve Youth Southwark is a highly innovative and unique youth-led and youth focused skills development and participation programme that aims to empower 500 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) youth living in the Borough. The programme will provide alternative community based and youth-led alternatives to formal education through the provision of well-tested quality youth–led training activities, youth-led awareness and learning events, volunteering, shadowing and mentoring and a youth-led Drop In support Hub that will provide tailored and peer to peer advice about employment routes and skills. The programme will also offer access to a range of cross-cultural learning and e-learning opportunities leading to positive social action and aimed to create Healthy, Active, Safe, Prepared and Informed young citizens. Underpinned by three core themes Employability, Citizenship and Youth Inclusion the programme responds to the immediate needs and barriers faced by young BAME people in Southwark.

Our research has shown the barriers young people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are facing in their transition to adulthood. These barriers are related to various risk factors that are higher in people from BAME backgrounds including carers, refugees etc. Such risks factors are exacerbated as these young people tend to be disengaged, excluded and lack sense of belonging in the community. They have limited or lack knowledge of their rights and opportunities available to them. Thus, they remain unengaged, uninterested and excluded from mainstream society. The problem appears to be recurring cycle since socially isolated young people lack significant knowledge of their civil and legal rights and responsibilities as citizens. This lack of knowledge and awareness depletes their ability to participate in the society as informed citizens. They are more likely to suffer from the negative effects of unresolved legal problems as they “are less likely than the average citizen to take any action or seek help with their problems” (Robins, 2007).

IARS’ research with Black, Asian and Minority ethnic young people shows that knowledge of civil and legal rights could provide a stepping stone in attaining social justice by enhancing young people’s legal literacy. This knowledge would also serve to empower marginalised youth living against a backdrop of a society, which contributes towards their disempowerment through limited prospects for integration, employment, and education (IARS, 2009). Our research findings are supported by statistics that show that persistent issue of poverty in Southwark’s rich ethnically diverse young population. Two-thirds of children and young people in Southwark come from a BAME background, a 41% increase in the BAME population is expected over the next 10 years. However some of these young people are facing significant challenges, 34% of children are living in poverty in Southwark. Southwark is in the bottom eight performing boroughs in London’s Poverty Profile 2015. Plus the Index of Wellbeing shows that the overall score for children and young people who live in Southwark is amongst the lowest in the country.

Material deprivation and its consequences have a significant impact on the chances of young people to experience a fulfilling and stable life. Young people who live in poverty are considered to be vulnerable as they are socially excluded and they have fewer opportunities compared to their peers that are from higher economic backgrounds. They are more likely to face educational disadvantage and become socially excluded, thus causing long term consequences for their lives and their transition to adulthood. The so called ‘smooth transition’ to adulthood has many determinants including acquisition of appropriate soft skills, knowledge through formal and informal education, peer to peer learning and socialising.

Young people who live in poverty are less motivated in continuing in formal education or pursue further training. They access to employment is also challenged. In the long term, these realities expose them at risk of becoming NEETS and remain socially excluded. In Southwark, unemployment among young people is above the London average and five times that for BAME communities. Across the Borough careers advice was ranked as either the highest or second most desired activity by the Southwark youth consultation, from aged 12 and over. Debate and democracy was the third most popular proposed activity among 16-24 year olds. Formal educational opportunities and youth work is only one model of provision by Involve Youth Southwark.

Involve Youth Southwark is an innovative, youth-led and youth focused skills development and participation programme that will provide 500 young people aged 15-19 living in Southwark – with particular focus on those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds – with accredited high quality youth-led training and youth-led awareness raising and learning events, volunteering and mentoring opportunities and a youth-led support Hub that will provide tailored and peer to peer advice about employment routes and skills. The programme will also offer cross-cultural learning and e-learing opportunities leading to positive social action and aimed to create Healthy, Active, Safe, Prepared and Informed young citizens. Underpinned by three core themes; Employability, Citizenship and Youth Inclusion, programme activities will empower young people by building their knowledge, social and soft skills and confidence, allowing their voices to be heard, improving their relationships with their peers and communities, raising their aspirations, and facilitating their transition to adulthood and independent living.

Already IYS has provided training sessions around the borough, working in partnership with local youth service provision to ensure that young people benefit from additional background and information about their rights.

Our project is based around a theory of change model that we have created to ensure that the project has a positive impact on young people in the borough.

The theory of change model has been constructed using key building blocks to bring about our long-term goal. It is reviewed on a monthly basis throughout the project and is a context for considering the connections between the project mission, strategies and actual outcomes, while creating links between who is being served, the strategies or activities that are being implemented and the desired outcomes. This theory of change is depicted as a “pathway of change framework”, a graphical representation of our progress:

The IARS International Institute, with funding from the Southwark Council Youth Service, will deliver the IYS project under the Southwark Youth Service Commissioning Programme, 2017 – 2019. During this period IARS will have worked with 500 young residents in Southwark, who are identified as vulnerable and marginalised communities and are more likely to be socially disengaged, through community-based, alternative educational and volunteering opportunities. Marginalised youth in Southwark will be empowered to become future leaders in their communities, while diverting them from harm and enhancing their employability and civic engagement, through community-based, alternative educational and volunteering opportunities. IYS will target vulnerable and marginalised young people, who are more likely to be disengaged, by placing them in activities specifically designed to provide them with the right opportunities so that they themselves will feel a real sense of personal development, and begin to tear down the barriers that they might face. IYS will place Southwark young people at the core of IARS’ work, which is on local, regional, national and international levels, meaning that Southwark youth will be allowed to think about issues and experience what goes on beyond their locality and thus be exposed to the activities that IARS as a leading international think-tank can engage them in, across all levels.