Youths takeover to highlight issues that matter to them

Published Friday 29 November 2019 at 14:35

The annual Youth Takeover Challenge helped shine a spotlight on the issues that matter most to young people across Blackburn with Darwen.

Discussing subjects around gangs and knife crime, around 100 teenagers from the borough’s youth groups came together at Ewood Park yesterday to use their collective voice to influence local decision-making.

The event was hosted by Blackburn with Darwen’s Youth MP, Uday Akram, and members of the Youth Forum.

They were joined by 11 to 17 year olds from youth groups offered through the Blackburn with Darwen Strategic Youth Alliance – with representatives from Blackburn Youth Zone, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, FACE, IMO, Young People’s Services, One Voice Blackburn, Youth Action, Child Action North West, SEEDS, Lancashire Police Cadets, Targeted Youth Support, the Kids Next Door youth group and the Leaving Care team.

The young people took part in workshops run by the Youth Justice Service and the charity Every Action Has Consequences, set up in memory of Blackburn’s Adam Rogers who was tragically killed by a single punch. Young people had opportunities to share their views too.

They also heard from speakers Adam Rogers’ brother Tim, and Prince’s Trust Ambassador Hezron Brown.

Recent Pride of Britain Young Ambassador award winner Hezron spoke about how he turned his back on gang culture and used education to get his life back on track.

Hezron Brown commented:

It’s been a pleasure coming to Blackburn. It’s been a very useful night including the story about Adam Rogers. I’m confident that tonight will last on the community and raise awareness of issues impacting local communities. It was great to meet so many young people and hopefully make a positive impact on their lives.

Uday Akram, Blackburn with Darwen Youth MP, said:

I really think the workshops were amazing. The speakers showed real passion and told their stories in a way where we practically lived a day in their shoes. I found it really interesting and learned many new things.

Jayne Ivory, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Children Services, said:

While knife crime isn’t a huge problem in Blackburn with Darwen, it’s clearly still a concern to our young people as it’s an issue reported regularly in the national media. Knife crime also featured as the second highest issue of concern for young people nationally in the recent Make Your Mark youth ballot held last month.

The Youth Takeover is a fabulous event that empowers our young people to join together to discuss issues that matter most to them, and come up with solutions they feel can make a difference to where they live.

The Council’s Head of Adolescent Services Imran Akuji added:

The event was a huge success. It was great to see so many young people engaging positively in learning about the law, how to respond in difficult situations and gaining learning from two inspirational guest speakers who shared their personal experiences.

It was fabulous to bring young people from across the borough together to take part in activities which will give them life skills and keep them safe. Feedback from young people at the end of the event was brilliant. We will continue to deliver the key messages and learning from the event in youth clubs and projects via the Strategic Youth Alliance network.

The Youth Takeover Challenge is led by Blackburn with Darwen’s Young People’s Services, and was this year supported by the Our Community, Our Future social integration programme and Blackburn Rovers Community Trust.

Following the workshops and discussions at the Youth Takeover Challenge event, the Youth Forum will prepare a report for the Council’s Executive Board meeting, the Children’s Overview and Scrutiny meeting and the Our Community, Our Future board.

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