Engaging Urban Youth: Community, Citizenship and Democracy

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Last Friday saw the Greater London Authority’s Peer Outreach team host a stakeholder engagement workshop with academic Professor Robert J Chaskin of The University of Chicago and UNESCO Chair for Inclusive Urbanism. He discussed his research and it was a chance for people who had an interest in engaging urban youth with politics to access his findings and feed into his research.

We caught up with Kelsea Sellars, member of the Greater London Authority’s Peer Outreach Team, who organised this insightful event on Friday 16th March. I asked Kelsea why she felt the need to organise the event, and here’s what she said:

“Robert initially approached the peer outreach workers to share insight and feed into his research. This was great, however, I was keen to host the launch of the project at City Hall so that it could be shared with other researchers, youth service practitioners and even more young people. I’m glad that Robert and the University of Chicago received funding from the European Commission (EC) to carry out the research.

Many of the young people’s perspectives on youth engagement showed that they were more keen to get involved with democracy and their local communities, much more than society expects from them. What I would say though, that for far too long the EC have commissioned research where they gather such insightful opinions from young people, almost to tick a box but never to make real change.

This is why I challenge all 4 related cities, Dublin, London, Belfast and Chicago to do something practical with the research. For the Education & Youth Policy Unit, and the Peer Outreach Team at City Hall what this research has provided us and the young people we work with is up to date research that will arm us in our day lobbying and holding institutions to account.”

Friday’s event made it clear that young people are increasingly being heard, the contrast of Brexit compared to the most recent snap election shows the increased politicisation of British young people.

It’s critical to engage with stakeholders from the grassroots to the academics who feed into policy and as an ‘urban youth’, I’m glad the GLA’s Peer outreach team are actively engaging with various stakeholders to improve political engagement for young people.

Chijioke Anosike

TWN Editor

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