Around two years ago, I was working as a volunteer tutor in Eurostar’s excellent homework club, when Sam Kidby approached me to discuss the Urban Partners Board’s desire to build on the success of the club and broaden the reach and impact of UP’s Next Generation Initiative.
A few months later, I was appointed as the Next Generation Coordinator and with the support of the Board and Executive and the great team at Evergreen, began working to identify new ways to engage the young people in our local community. Our aims were to create a greater understanding of the world of work and to provide guidance and support for young people, their families and carers, teachers and others, so as to improve life chances for children and young adults in the Kings Cross area.
We were aware that our young people are precious resources who would have important roles to play in a post-Brexit world. It was decided that, at all times, we would be driven by local needs and priorities and as such, in the early days, much time was spent creating networks across Camden and Islington, in schools, clubs, community centres and beyond. We talked to the community to identify areas where UP could have the most significant impact.
One of the great joys of having been the Next Generation Coordinator has been seeing these networks grow and strengthen. Starting with the wonderful Georgie Speller at Maria Fidelis School, we have worked hard to forge strong and meaningful relationships both in the Kings Cross, St Pancras area and beyond into the wider Camden and Islington Communities.
Creating these networks would have been impossible without the untiring support of Danielle and Lorraine at Camden Council and Hamish and Darshna at Islington. It has been great to see Partners engaging with Camden’s STEAM Initiative and Summer University and Islington’s 100 Hours Challenge and we were proud when our first STEAM business challenge was featured as best practice in a number of national studies. Creating new ways of providing a meaningful understanding of the world of employment has become an important driver for the Next Generation Team and as a result, hundreds of local pupils, from Y2 to Y13 have benefitted from high quality programmes, delivered by UP volunteers.
As well as working with mainstream schools, we have also built strong relationships with local clubs and shelters, particularly with Steve at the Copenhagen Youth Project and Sam, Nicky and Lazlo the C4WS shelter. Mentoring (particularly the great work done in this regard by Havas), employment advice, provision of IT equipment and advice through Ted Baker’s ReCycleIT scheme and being part of the joyous Callyfest celebrations all drew us closer to our local partners. Of special note is the work that has begun with Islington’s Pupil Referral Unit, New River College. Work here has given UP volunteer’s huge personal satisfaction.
18 months ago, the Next Generation Initiative reached 300 young people through the Homework Club and The Careers Expo at Google. Today, thanks to the vision of the UP Board, the many hundreds of hours of time given by UP volunteers, the support of local partners and third parties, that reach has grown the thousands across our two boroughs.
Moving on, thanks to Gemma at Springer Nature, UP now has a management and impact framework. This records activity and impact and provides a valuable guide for delivering future work in the community. With this, UP is well placed to continue improving the lives and life chances of our young people for many years to come.
It is with the greatest pride that I have been associated with this wonderful work.