As a member of Manchester Youth Council, we were approached by Partispace EU to work on a project of our choice; independent of MYC, MYP, BYC, GMYCA and Youth Focus NW – Organisations which I was all a member if through my role as Youth Councillor.
It was an extraordinary experience for three main reasons. Firstly, as a group of random young people from different backgrounds, we were given full autonomy to come up and decide what we will campaign about – no strings attached. Secondly, we were given the ‘space’ meaning all the necessary resources we needed to carry out our chosen campaign. Thirdly, we were few in number (less than 10) compared to MYC for example with 30+ active elected members. We were to do this with only one condition which was for Barry and Nigel to be taking notes as we were carrying out our activities, and of course, provide any help along the way.
It was a huge learning experience. I have learnt that for any group to work and to be effective there must be a ‘WHY’ deeply rooted within the members… A sense of purpose especially when there Is no monetary reward attached is ever so important. Naturally, we were all motivated individuals and active/consistent members of the Manchester Youth Council. Homelessness was a topic everyone within the group unanimously chose and felt passionate about and some had even experienced it. Hence why I feel despite all the challenges we faced, we were able to come up with tangible solutions and make our own little impact.
In the end, after much research, we decided our campaign will be based on two things. First, was to raise awareness and educate people on youth homelessness which we did through creating a video campaign showcasing young people’s experiences, showing facts, figures & trends, interview with the experts, showing similar ongoing projects that aim to tackle youth homelessness including a live visual demonstration across Manchester. Our second objective was to provide information to young people who are already homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. We created a pamphlet with much information and contact details/addresses of different organisations that offered help. We planned to not only distribute these to homeless people but to Schools and Youth organisations also. In other words, not only a solution but also a preventative measure.
I have also learnt participation in politics, is not always about lobbying, protesting or debating. A group of people, with commitment and passion, can ALWAYS organise themselves and make a real impact on issues that matter to them the most in their own little communities. Though, without time-management, good communication, consistency, delegation and leadership it is impossible to make a real and effective impact.
Life had moved on, and so fast. I have since, set up a digital agency in a completely different part of the world in Nigeria, West Africa. Having to manage a team of people, I have definitely implemented a lot of the skills I have learnt from the Partispace project. I am still very much actively participating!
For more info, read the full group documentation of using https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-8qLBWYQw_oQ2JC6KSpshf8ySpjEesMmnYrhH30jHsM/edit#heading=h.gjdgxs