In the summer of 2011, a series of disturbances occurred in several English cities. Our ‘Outreach Citizen’s Inquiry’ project wanted to give frustrated young people the chance for their voices to be heard in a positive way.
We put together an inquiry campaign which put forward the constructive ideas of young people about what they needed or wanted in their local communities. This helped them talk with senior leaders in their cities, and get people talking so questions on both sides could be answered by the right people.
We especially wanted young people without job’s or who weren’t in education to get involved. Often, local councils and other parts of government don’t hear what these sorts of young people say – but our project influenced a special report which put all those ideas in writing.
We recruited nine 13-16 year-olds to design the artwork and mission statement for the project, and they’re now in school and doing well. Through social media we recruited more young people to get their ideas. Another ten young people without a job or place in education delivered the project itself – and six have already got jobs, with another studying at uni.
So we had a real impact. Local communities benefited, too – we got them involved, and made them feel as if they could get somewhere by co-operating with others. For instance, West Midlands Fire Service signed up to hear what people had to say and work with people to build better links. Our final report offered a unique and important perspective on Birmingham’s 2011 riots.