07 April 2020
Our youth advisory board, Dare London, meets once a month for 3 hours at our office. Every meeting sees at least 18 young people in the room discussing topics from local programme design to co-ordinating responses to issues affecting young people.
And, in the midst of all this, our office turns into a youth club for one night a month.
It’s not unusual for us to have ice-breakers, impromptu dance routines, jokes that make the whole room erupt with laughter – and some jokes that aren’t quite stand-up ready. At its core, Dare London exists to ensure London Youth is youth-led and that young Londoners have a say in the work that we do.
Through Dare London, some of the young people have developed real and meaningful friendships – regardless of their backgrounds and which part of London they’re from. Attending the Dare London meetings has always made that connection easier; through our presence, energy and our abilities to fill silences with body language.
Having said that, in this time of social distancing, our youth board has taught me that with a bit of creativity and optimism we can connect in different ways. We’ve moved our Dare London meetings online, and per the young people’s request, we’re now meeting every week for an hour.
We’ve had general check-ins, we’ve practiced meditation techniques with Haptivate, and one of them even chose to prank us all on April 1st. We haven’t seen each other in over a month but we’re still finding ways to connect. London Youth is committed to continuing to ensure these young people are feeling well and have what they need in these very unusual times, and I’m pleased to see that the board members have the same commitment to each other.
Next, we’ll start thinking about how to add youth involvement back into the mix. So far, they’ve already volunteered to judge our Visual Arts Competition later this week, and some of the young people are using the London Youth Microgrants to deliver social action projects online.
We recognise that the circumstances we’re working in are far from normal, but what remains the same is the young people we’re working with who are resilient, who need connection and who are still spurred on to make change. Let’s continue to listen to their needs, co-create and amplify young people’s voices.
– Kadisha James-Fergus, Youth Action Delivery Officer