READING ABOUT RUTH

At Compass Youth, we were very involved in campaigning in the London elections. Everyone talked about how "it was the doughnut strategy wot won it" for Boris, in other words targetting the outer suburbs. We thought we go even further and reach out to Reading, where there's a resurgence going on. Meet Ruth, Chair of Reading University Labour Club.

Do you want to share your experience of being involved in campaigning, your thoughts on an issue that matters to you? Get in touch at noel.hatch1@gmail.com

Why did you get involved in Reading University Labour Club?

I’ve been involved in local politics my whole life and when I went to university I was keen to take this further and become active in Reading. I feel that it is very important to be active in the community, to take an interest in what’s going on around you.

Why did you want to set it up?

When I found that Reading didn’t have a Labour Club I felt very strongly that it was worth trying to set one up. Walking around the Freshers’ Fayre in my first year I saw the Conservative Club and Liberal Democrat Club and felt that there must other students who, like me, didn’t have their political views represented in the University.

How did you become Chair?

I only really became chair of the club by default. Throughout my first and second years at Reading there was just not enough interest for a Labour Club, but luckily our stall at the Freshers’ Fayre in my third year drew a number of interested people. I was determined to keep these people together, to not let them lose interest; particularly so that once I was gone there would be a strong core of young students who wanted to continue with the club. I had a lot of support from Martin Salter, MP for Reading West, his constituency staff, and local councillors and activists. I hope I’ve brought together some students who are passionate about democracy and social justice and want to see the club grow further.

What are your responsibilities as chair?

As the club is only just beginning I needed to make sure I kept its members together – made sure they didn’t lose interest.

"One member had always been interested in political issues, but had never made an allegiance to a particular party. I wanted to show him exactly why the Labour Party was worth campaigning for and what we could achieve."

I organised a trip to the Houses of Parliament and coordinated with the local party for the club to attend dinners with Harriet Harman and Hilary Benn.

How do you help young people get better involved in what you do?

I think a lot of this is about awareness.

"Anyone can tell you that political involvement is decreasing amongst young people and apathy has never been more popular.One of the main reasons for this is that people, particularly students and young people, are just not aware of what is going on in their communities. It is not that they don’t want to be involved, they just need the time taken to show them why local politics is important – and also that it’s not as boring as they think!"

By organising high profile events at a university, we can show them that getting involved is not as onerous as they think, and actually take up issues that they are probably already passionate about and just don’t know what they can do to fight their corner. Student politics can give them a forum to develop this.

What in your daily life makes you feel the most reassured or optimistic about your future?

This is probably my political involvement, locally and nationally. I find myself always campaigning for one thing or the other and I really enjoy it.

"When I see what is happening around me, what is happening around all of us, there are so many people fighting for things to be better, so many people who have made things better. No matter what I do when I (finally) grow up, I know that people, including myself, as working hard to make this a more fair and equal society. "

My future, and the future of young people around me, looks very very bright.

What gives you hope for the community you live in?

The people in the community give me hope. I live in a very small village in my home town and we’ve recently started a Greening Campaign to do our part in the fight against climate change. When it all began I was amazed at the interest people showed and there are now plans underway for our first stage of action. The campaign involved all different kinds of people and is not a political campaign at all.

"It’s about our community, started by our community, and it’s a sign of a community that wants to get involved and can see an area where it can make a difference and is determined to do so."

What would you change to improve the quality of everyday life of yourself, your friends/family and your neighbourhood?

I would really like to bring back some play areas for young children into my village. There used to be an area for this by a recreation ground, and later a basketball hoop was added. Unfortunately vandalism and other factors have meant that they have had to be removed. It is sad and there is now nowhere to take young children to play.

What does being "born free and equal" mean to you?

To me this is just a fact. We are all born free and equal - it’s a shame that it even needs to be said, to be campaigned for. But unfortunately not everyone is in favour of equality and many people are not treated as if they are free and equal.

What is your first political memory?

I can thank my parents for this. When I was just able to walk they sent me out to deliver leaflets in our village. I couldn’t even read the longer words on them.

Who's your role model?

I’m going to have to go with the cliché answer of my parents, I’m afraid. I’ve been incredibly lucky in the opportunities they’ve given me and politically I seem to have followed in their footsteps. I owe them a lot and look up to them both enormously.

What's your favourite activity outside of politics?

Just the usual, really – spending time with friends and family, generally behaving like a student. I’m a big football fan, as well, so I like to get to as many games as I can each season.

What is the issue or campaign that matters most to you?

"It’s hard to pick out just one, there is a myriad of campaigns that are worth fighting for – some winnable and some not, but all still worth fighting for. I think social justice, an issue which I believe the Labour Party still has at its heart, is a crucial fight, both domestically and worldwide. We have still not done enough to bring equality into the most deprived areas of the country."

What would you recommend to people who would be keen to start up their labour club?

Get a stall at your Freshers’ Fayre. This is the optimum time to recruit potential members and it’s very easy to book a stall – just contact you Students’ Union. Try to have something to offer on the day – a drinks event with a local MP or councillor, or a trip to Westminster (though the latter will need arranging a while in advance). If there is a Labour MP nearby make sure to contact them – they can give you lots of support and will almost certainly be keen to see a Labour Club at their local university.

THE LIFE OF RILEY

At Compass Youth, we are always looking for new ways of bringing our campaigns closer to the community. The ideas we try out, the campaigns we work on, the relationships we build together.

Having been inspired by the "talking wall" of a community group in South Africa, and challenged by Compass' very own mission to take "
the pulse of the nation and identify the hopes and fears of the people before outlining some of the policy ideas to build a better Britain."

I wanted youth activists to tell their narrative. I was
amazed by the energy and passion of the people I met - whether they're our members, supporters or from other campaigning groups - and the talents they bring to making change happen.

I wanted to share those stories with you. I hope you enjoy them. We will be publishing these interviews on a regular basis.





Do you want to share your experience of being involved in campaigning, your thoughts on an issue that matters to you? Get in touch with me at noel.hatch1@gmail.com

Most students have gone through freshers week looking round the different stalls, signing up to student societies from "stich and bitch" to "rag", but how many of you have been round freshers fair not to find a labour club. Where do you go to meet other progressives? I met Paul Riley, chair of UCL Labour who was in that same position when he started at university. Here he shares his experiences of starting up a labour club, planting trees and much much more!

Why did you get involved in UCL Labour?
UCL Labour didn't exist before, or at least recently. I was really keen to get the club going again and spoke to friends who were keen to get involved. We also went to see Queen Marys' Labour Club to find out what you need to do to get it going.

Why did you want to become Chair?
I believe in social democratic ideals and wanted to make a difference. I also wanted to address the incredible lack of balance that there was no labour club at the university, but a huge conservative student society.

How did you become Chair?
I became Chair through setting up and pulling people together.




We needed to affiliated the club to the student union of UCL, but when we finally agree to go for it on the Wednesday, we realised the application form to affiliate needed to be in by the same Friday...and we needed 20 members to sign up, which we managed in the space of 48 hours!




Having officialised our existence, I set up the Facebook
group and contacted Camden Labour, who were really helpful and we got together with them to go out for drinks but also help later on for the London elections to re-elect Ken.

What did it feel like getting elected?

I was pretty relieved and very pleased to be able to properly take issues on.

What are your responsibilities as Chair?

I am responsible for directing where we want to go, chairing meetings and providing an overview of what's going on and who's doing what. I also ensure we respect health & safety and other regulations and generally being accountable to the student union as the first point of contact.

What activities & campaigns have you developed?

I was preoccupied with election campaigns which we only established in the second half of term. We produced a leaflet for students at UCL which was supported by Camden Labour. In return, we went knocking on doors with them and in student halls. We also organised a pub crawl called "Vote Ken again" to combine the social and electoral aspect of supporting Ken Livingstone. During the year, we organise meetings every week.

How do you help young people/students get better involved in what you do?

We were really inspired by an article by Ken Livingstone about building a progressive alliance, so we organised a cross-student society cooperation. All the groups that took part were pretty much on the same side and so we wanted to build up better collaboration, such as running joint events, so we could mobilise members together and be more involved within the student union.

We are keen to be open minded and not be entrenched. We said, let's just sit down and talk. We might look at certain things from different perspectives, but it's very simple just to talk and work things out.

What in your daily life makes you feel the most reassured or optimistic about your future?

Being in London is a pretty amazing place to live. Everything happens here. It is dynamically politically and culturally - you feel you're at the centre of things.

It might sound a bit cheesy but people give you hope, people you speak to on the street. You think, yes, they really want to make a difference.

What three things would you change to improve the quality of everyday life of yourself, your friends/family and your neighbourhood?

Paul struggles to work out how he could change his own quality of life, but jumps up when I ask him how he could make a difference to the lives of his friends, family and neighbourhood. To think our generation only think of themselves! For students, I would scrap frees and get free education. For London, I would make all public transport free. For my friends and family, I would plant more trees.

What does being "born free and equal" mean to you?

Everyone should fundamentally be free, equality is the foundation for everything. It's about introducing civil partnerships, the minimum wage, legislating for equal pay. The key thing for me to take it further is progressive taxation. It's pretty concerning that the gap is widening between the rich and poor. A lot of people feel this gap is gross. If I was rolling in the money, I would share it out.

What is your first political memory?

Question Time.

Who's your role model?

In a way, somebody like Tony Benn. He's got the style to remain calm but at the same time an amazing power in how we puts across his message.

What's your favourite activity outside of youth/student politics?

Cinema, music, gigs. My favourite films are "Of Montreal", "Beyrouth" and "The Lives of Others". What is the issue or campaign that matters most to you?

The "living wage" and "affordable housing" are the issues that really matter to me.

What would you recommend to people who would be keen to be involved in a student society?

Start a student club up, it's not difficult - I did it! If you've got the ideas, the vision of where you want to go and what you want to achieve, just do it, challenge the debate. I hadn't been a member of an executive before, so if you've got the passion and the ideas, why not?

NEW COMPASS WEBSITE

Compass have launched a new website. Take a visit!

STILL LABOUR TO STOP THE TORIES?

The left often have a difficult relationship with the Labour party but every so often one gets firmly reminded that the Labour party is the only party in Britain with a realistic progressive agenda.

This week we have seen the Tories up to their old tricks; allegedly George Osborne has been caught red-handed trying to solicit a donation from a Russian Billionaire, and Nathaniel Rothschild would go so far as to back up this up in court. Either way it reminded us of backgrounds the new party of the people, Osborne and Rothschild were chums at the Bullingdon Club.

In economic news it appears Darling has dusted of a copy of J.M Keynes that he put away in the 1980's, announcing he would bring forward spending plans to stimulate demand in the economy. This can only be good for job creation and the only way to avoid a major recession or at least soften it. The Tories' response was laughable, you can't spend more said John Redwood, that was it.

The government also announced a shake up of sex education, a welcome and necessary development to try to tackle the appalling teenage pregnancy rate in Britain. Evidence suggests open and early years education such as that in the Netherlands gets results.

NHS waiting times are their lowest since its creation; the average wait is eight weeks from GP referral, down from around 2 years which was common under the Conservatives in the mid-1990s.

Perhaps the most encouraging news of all was the OECD report suggesting the declining gap between rich and poor in Britain between 2000 and 2005 was 'remarkable'. This could be largely due to the minimum wage which has gone up by 59% under Labour with average earnings going up at 46%. Britain is still a severely unequal country but more good news nonetheless and something to remember when knocking on doors.

This is the time for all those undecided on the left to join the party, get involved, debate, canvass and support the party because if we do not the Tories money advantage could well tell and where would that leave the most vulnerable in these difficult economic times.

Joe Cox, Dartford CLP, Compass Youth

SOLIDARITY IN ACTION: VENEZUELA-EUROPEAN CONFERENCE

Solidarity in action: Venezuela-European event argues for new way

writes MATTHEW WILLGRESS - COMPASS YOUTH DELEGATE
to the European Conference in Solidarity with Venezuela.


VENEZUELAN Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro called on progressives across Europe to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bolivarian revolution and the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution next year as key milestones in Latin America's movement to break free of US-led "neocolonialism and neoliberalism."

Speaking at the second annual European Conference in Solidarity with Venezuela in Paris over the weekend, Mr Maduro added that Venezuela is "calling on all progressive movements around the world" to support the process that has been "launched to change our country." He related President Hugo Chavez's "warmest wishes and thanks" to the growing European solidarity movement with Venezuela.

Over 200 delegates from Venezuela and Europe attended the conference, entitled Venezuela: For an Independent European Policy, co-organised by French organisation Memoires Des Luttes, the Venezuela Information Centre and the British Labour Friends of Venezuela group of MPs.


Mr Maduro also pointed out how the event had particular relevance in light of the global crisis of US-led neoliberalism and Venezuela's progressive alternative, which were related themes addressed throughout the day. Venezuela's ambassador to Britain Samuel Moncada pointed out that the global economic crisis had come as no surprise to Venezuela and other left-wing governments in Latin America who had witnessed first hand the problems of the Washington consensus.

These same governments, until recently derided in dominant north American and European political circles, were now leading the way in showing an alternative to free-market failure across the world. This means a complete reworking of the global financial system, including getting "rid of the useless IMF" and "starting from scratch" by building new bodies such as the Bank of the South.


A number of European participants in the events linked these current events to the need for building constructive relationships with Venezuela at all levels and clearly breaking from the hostile position of the discredited Bush administration. Former Portuguese president and current Honorary President of the Socialist International Mario Soares argued that a new relationship between Europe and progressive governments in Latin America, led by Venezuela as part of the "movement for a better world," was key to creating a new "multipolar worid" as an alternative to the current inequality of the global system.
Link
Stavros Evagreou, a deputy from the governing AKEL party in Cyprus, explained that his recently elected government was in solidarity with Venezuela against US aggression and the "collapsing neoliberal model which is bringing misery across the world."

Spanish Socialist Party MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament Miguel Angel Martinez said that there was need to tackle the "distortion and falsifications" of much of the European media, a point also addressed by British Labour MP Colin Burgon, who note that, despite the "relentless media" hostility, growing sections of the British labour movement were "inspired by event in Venezuela."

RITMO NO SOL

Moving back to the Midlands from Hackney was a bit of an eye-opener. Okay, Derby has a variety of different cultures represented within it, but it is still one of the most ethnically segregated cities in the country and this becomes even more obvious at night-time.

Go into Derby city-centre during the evening and you are unlikely to see the diverse array of cultures that the city is home to. In fact, you could say the same about many other British towns and cities and it is with this in mind that I chose to promote a night which celebrates different cultures and, notably, the music that has spawned from them.

Okay, I have to admit, I'm a bit of an internet junkie, and spend countless hours drifting around global music websites adding tunes to my already fairly sizeable collection. I lament what the digital music industry has done to independent local record shops but at the same time, the internet has enabled me to hear sounds from across the globe.


I can hear underground producers from Lagos or Sao Paulo at the click of a button, and websites such as Myspace have made it easier than ever for us to open up to new music.

The main reason why I am embarking on Ritmo no Sol is to create a fusion of brilliant music from Africa and South America, and to encourage open minded people from all backgrounds to come and join us. I've been promoting the night in Normanton, the multicultural 'heart' of the city as well as the university and through the usual mainstream methods in the city-centre and the posters have been printed in English, Yoruba and French.

There are lots of things written about multiculturalism; some saying that it has failed, that it has created divisions within society and has somehow increased racial tension. I don't buy into these arguments and want Ritmo to prove that these statements are false.

Okay, so one night of Afrobeat/Bossa in Derby isn't going to make all the doubters think again, but it will be the opportunity for people to come together for a night of great global music, regardless of background, without feeling distanciated and most importantly of all, to enjoy themselves.

Viva la difference!

Marcus Shukla

Compass Youth East Midlands

*Communities and Local Government, State of the Cities report : Social Cohesion (page 109)

CITIZEN 16

At Compass Youth, we are keen to listen to you to find out what issues really matter. We have also been asking our members the issues that matter to them and activities that excited them. Given that the top issues that mattered to our members were equality, international relations & citizenship/integration, we have focused our events on these themes. Given that the top skills members were interested in were writing articles/guides, campaigning and lobbying politicians we are developing activities around these. You can still tell us the issues that matter to you here.

We wanted to take a step back and get you to tell your stories of youth activism. It makes perfect sense that I interviewed Lorin Bell Cross, who has been at the forefront of championing our latest campaign - Votes for 16. Some snigger that the only way they would support votes at 16 when half a million 15- to 17-year-olds march on parliament demanding it. With activists like Lorin leading the charge, don't bet against that not happening.

Do you want to share your experience of being involved in campaigning, your thoughts on an issue that matters to you? Get in touch at noel.hatch1@gmail.com

Why did you get involved in your local branch?

After Jon Cruddas’ deputy leadership campaign got me interested in the Labour party I thought it would be interesting to attend the local branch meetings and help out with local campaigns. These include the election of Rushanara Ali in Bethnal Green and Bow and stopping George Galloway in Poplar and Limehouse

Why did you want to become youth delegate?

After I was offered the position I thought it would be good to give a different prospective on the political events at the GC. I think I can make positive contributions to the discussions at the GC on issues which effect many young people today such as Crime and Drugs/Binge drinking abuse and offer a different set of ideas to the older GC members

How did you become youth delegate?

I was the youngest active member in my branch and was asked whether I was interested and I agreed.

What are your responsibilities as youth delegate?

Branch youth delegate does not have any substantial responsibilities, simply to take part in the local campaigns and attend GC and branch meetings.

What activities & campaigns have you developed?

Outside of the Labour Party I arranged a speech from Peter Facey at my school.

How do you help young people/students get better involved in what you do?

At school I raise contemporary political issues or problems and debate or discuss them with friends.

What in your daily life makes you feel the most reassured or optimistic about your future?

I feel I am making good use of my education and will therefore be able to get into a good university and achieve a successful career in politics which I desire.

What gives you hope for the community you live in?

I can see that though some people are going through tough times at the moment, they are far more affluent than 10 years ago, and that hopefully the Olympics will help regenerate some of the most deprived areas in London.

What would you change to improve the quality of everyday life of yourself, your friends/family and your neighbourhood?

I don’t really feel there is a need to improve anything in my life or those of my family and friends, we all have what we need. To improve my neighbourhood I think perhaps more funding for youth facilities are necessary to keep kids and teenagers out of gangs. Furthermore, prevent the segregation of the white and non-white groups in the neighbourhood.

What does being "born free and equal" mean to you?

When people are given equal opportunities to achieve a successful career and life which they desire, regardless of their gender, colour, background or accent.

What is your first political memory?

Handing out Charter 88 leaflets with my father when I was about 4-5.

Who's your role model?

Clement Atlee and Dennis Healey.

What's your favourite activity outside of politics?

Rugby and reading.

What is the issue or campaign that matters most to you?

Education and affordable housing.


IT'S OUR FUTURE, LET'S SHAPE IT TOGETHER

At Compass Youth, we are always looking for new ways of bringing our campaigns closer to the community. The ideas we try out, the campaigns we work on, the relationships we build together.

Having been inspired by the "talking wall" of a community group in South Africa, and challenged by Compass' very own mission to take "
the pulse of the nation and identify the hopes and fears of the people before outlining some of the policy ideas to build a better Britain.", I wanted youth activists to tell their narrative. I was amazed by the energy and passion of the people I met - whether they're our members, supporters or from other campaigning groups - and the talents they bring to making change happen.

I wanted to share those stories with you. I hope you enjoy them. We will be publishing these interviews on a regular basis.





As a teaser, we feature our first two interviews - All consuming Amisha and Knowle West Boy.

Do you want to share your experience of being involved in campaigning, your thoughts on an issue that matters to you? Get in touch at noel.hatch1@gmail.com

KNOWLE WEST BOY

At Compass Youth, we strongly believe in the power of transnational action and have developed even stronger relationships with progressive soulmates across Europe. This is why we launched the "manifesto consultation" to keep the social democratic movement in touch with the most creative, dynamic and innovative thinking, but also build mutual understanding between activists across Europe and with our own communities.

I met David Shoare at the first debate of our PES manifesto series. The topic was the PES manifesto and democracy and diversity and there was a lot of discussion about democracy in Europe and how we can make it much closer to the people, and more relevant to them. He suggested one of the ways we can do this is by giving the people concerned more of a say in how EU initiatives, particularly regional and social ones, are conducted and where the money goes.

Do you want to share your experience of being involved in campaigning, your thoughts on an issue that matters to you? Get in touch at noel.hatch1@gmail.com

Why did you get involved in the South Bristol Urban 2 Programme?

Well my involvement with the programme started out via an unfortunately now defunct local youth forum called the Knowle West youth forum, right at the start of it the Programme they (in the form of Bristol City Council, the Government and the European Commission running the programme) wanted to involve various groups in developing and running it, and they took the rather innovative decision of involving young people in it! I suppose I liked the idea of being part of it as we were really making a difference to the area, and the attitude of those running it with us was unique in that our opinions were really being valued.

What activities & campaigns have you developed?

All of the management of the Programme and approval of projects was done by a panel called the Urban Partnership Group, of which, including myself, had people, and young people of course, from many organisations and agencies operating in South Bristol. We took applications from all kinds of organisations for all kinds of projects, and our job was to approve or reject applications for funding (the total budget for the programme was around £12 million) based on measures that we had a role in formulating- one on education, employment and training, one on tackling crime and drugs, one on improving the environment and one called “Getting Together” which was all about getting young people involved in the community and empowering them. I was also chair of the panel for two years, so I was making sure that meetings were running along smoothly (even having to tell civil servants to be quiet and let someone else speak on occasions!!) and also be a representative for the Programme at different events. One of my most nerve-racking points was doing a presentation, at the European Parliament building in Brussels, to several local MEPs!


How do you help young people/students get better involved in what you do?

In helping young people get better involved we’ve done many things, including setting people up with mentors to ease them into the formal environment of meetings, red cards to put up if any jargon was used (and this happened a lot!) and generally making some of the paperwork as simple to understand as possible. One of the young people on the Partnership Group even designed a map with the location of all the projects, with each one assigned a playing card (king of hearts etc) so the vast number of projects were easier to organise!

What in your daily life makes you feel the most reassured or optimistic about your future?

Well, one of the projects the Programme helped fund was the building of a purpose-built media centre called the Knowle West Media Centre. It’s a wonderful building- state of the art equipment to do things with, environmentally friendly (the largest straw bale panel construction in Europe) and the best part, all designed with the help of a group of young people, although I was only able to be there at the start of it, who saw it right through from choosing the architects to construction. A lot of people, including myself, lobbied to get it built (the organisation itself used to operate entirely out of an old prefabricated doctor’s surgery) and it’s amazing to think it’s there. Every time I go there I think, yeah, we did that, and we can do much more.

What would you change to improve the quality of everyday life of yourself, your friends/family and your neighbourhood?

Better public transport- if you speak to any Bristolian and mention buses they will almost universally tell you that we have the worst service in England: expensive, poor punctuality and poor vehicles, so much so that when I go to other cities the thing I always notice first is how much better their transport services are! If we improve public transport, and additionally solve our congestion problem, then Bristol could get moving much faster.

More long term funding for community projects- the one thing I encountered during the running of the Urban 2 Programme that worried me was the sort of funding regime that many organisations are in. Always for the relative short term, and having to constantly look over their shoulders at where the next pot of money is coming from. In order to build relationships and work towards the goal of a better community I do think that long term support is needed to properly achieve that, and this has not really been offered by current funding regimes.

I wasn’t going to moan about the student finance system but I am! Although I think the current system is by all means not the worst place to be, what it has done is often made people think of how much value for money their course is and taking more part time work rather than just living the typical student life as it were. Even living at home I struggle making ends meet as a student and a system that better recognises the support students need to get good degrees at the end of them would be very welcome.

What does being "born free and equal" mean to you?

Being “born free and equal” to me means having a world where we are free to follow our own ambitions and desires and have the support if we need it- where we are equal in terms of opportunity, quality of life and the power to change things.

What is your first political memory?

If I were to think way, way back I always remember that my primary school was turned into a polling station on election days, and sometimes my mother took me down there when she went to the polling booth. I also distinctly remember that once I even wrote a story in class about a man going around asking people to vote for them. Sounds incredibly corny but I assure you it’s true!!

Who's your role model?

Jon Snow. One of the few people on TV who knows how to get awkward answers out of awkward politicians, and still project it in a clear, concise manner.


What's your favourite activity outside of youth/student politics?

I do like going to gigs when I can. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Radiohead and the Foo Fighters already this year and hope to go to more.

What is the issue or campaign that matters most to you?

Electoral reform. I think we could do with an electoral system that better represents the feelings of the electorate, and also I feel we need to do much more to get people involved and voting in elections in the first place.

What would you recommend to people who would be keen to be involved in programmes like South Bristol Urban 2 Programme?

What would I recommend to people who want to get involved in things like Urban 2: The only way you can make things happen in your community is by being vocal and sending a clear message out that these are the sorts of things you want happening in your community. We were very, very lucky that the Council, Government and EU took a chance on the programme in South Bristol by involving young people directly in the process but who’s to say it can’t happen again? Get lobbying and maybe we will see more community programmes like it!

ABOUT US




We are the autonomous youth wing of the Democratic Left think tank and pressure group Compass. All members of Compass under 31 are entitled to full membership.

"Compass is the democratic left pressure group whose goal is to debate and develop ideas for a more equal and democratic world, then to campaign and organise to ensure that they become reality".

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ALL CONSUMING AMISHA


Amisha Ghadiali is a social entrepreneur of the exciting independent jewellery label "Amisha" and on the national executive of Compass Youth. Many of us may have heard people talk about social enterprise and wondered what they meant. I've never been good with definitions, so read on and I hope you'll be as inspired as I've been interviewing Amisha. PS Check out her website at http://www.amisha.co.uk.

Why and how did you get involved in social enterprise?

I guess there's a personal and a social element. I was working in politics and international development, when I had an accident and was very ill for a while. It was during this time that I realised I wanted to do something creative and energise positivity. The reason for setting up the label was a platform for campaignining.

"Only some people are involved in campaigning and debates. I wanted to get more types of people excited and activated. I was interested in the idea that people form identities around consumerism rather than around politics."

Everybody is involved in consumerism, so I felt that was an interesting channel to try. It was this interest that led me to get involved in Compass, as Neal Lawson was writing a book on the same subject (All Consuming, watch this space for book launch).

How did you become a social entrepreneur?

I freed myself from everyone else's opinions - blind optimism helped. For me, it never was different, in terms of values, it was a continuation of what I was doing before, it was natural. I did short courses to progress in social enterprise and business skills but most importantly I didn't get scared that it wasn't possible.

How does it feel to have got to where you are now?

The whole thing has been completely amazing. I'm still surprised at how well the label is doing. I am just working on the next steps now, getting new collections, getting more stockists and generally increasing brand awareness.

What are your responsibilities being a social entrepreneur?

I run a social enterprise, which came as a shock six months ago. Day to day, it's more about sales and PR.

Amisha is an exciting new independent jewellery label presenting eclectic pieces that embody romance and timeless elegance whilst hinting at the spirit of passion and rebellion that come with just seeing where life takes you…



The collections are made up entirely of limited edition pieces, each one a unique arrangement of handcrafted silver and semi-precious stones. Each design carefully combines the colours and properties of the stones and crystals used to produce jewellery that complements and enhances the natural beauty of the wearer.

Amisha strives to build strong connections between business and communities and in a step that reflects the positive ideals expressed in the designs themselves, is proud to donate ten percent of the profit to carefully selected local and global charities.

Amisha means, literally, someone who spreads 'the sweetest elixir of the heavens' all around her, and it is this spirit of vitality and radiant positivity we hope will be instilled in every piece of jewellery so that it will be carried by the wearer and shared wherever she goes.

What activities & campaigns have you developed?

I do a few things with the label including various shows such as Pulse and Style in the City. I also sell on markets such as Brick Lane's UpMarket. Recently I have been focusing on campaigning for ethical fashion.

"I have launched my own campaign against 'fast fashion' which means buying loads of cheap thing to wear once and throw away."

This year I took part in Estethica, the Ethical Fashion Area of London Fashion Week. My latest love is Swishing, where you get together and swap clothes and accessories you don't use anymore with others. A great way to recycle!

Outside of my label I am currently working on production of the most exciting event in ethical fashion, The RE:Fashion Awards (www.refashionawards.org), the world's first awards to celebrate improved social and environmental standards in the fashion industry. It is amazing to be working on this and feel we are really pulling the industry together to create positive change. It really is a new phenomenon, set to transform the fashion industry within a decade."

How do you help young people/students get better involved in what you do?

The way I've chosen to help young people get better involved is subtley, which makes it hard to measure!

"My feeling is to make an impact on cynical people, it's about not making a big deal about it. It's only once they have bought jewellery that they see information on campaigns/charities inside the box. When they read it in the privacy of their own home, it makes them feel good that they've done something good."

It's more about reaching out to the cynical people - in fact, I think sometimes i think I'm cynical.

What in your daily life makes you feel the most reassured or optimistic about your future?

Just the fact there are always people trying to make a difference. People are always changing. There is so much out there about fair trade, carbon offsetting, and sustainability in general. The fact it's part of everyday conversation is positive.

What would you change to improve the quality of everyday life of yourself, your friends/family and your neighbourhood?

"Make the roads safer in terms of pedestrian crossings and cyclist lanes, change attitudes for young people on gun and knife crime, make recycling compulsory."

What does being "born free and equal" mean to you?

We are not. Rights to decent education would to a start in making people born free and equal across the world.

What is your first political memory?

Staying up with my mum and dad watching the General Election, in what must have been 1987 or 1992. My parents explained about the two main parties. I ran upstairs I got my red and my blue scarf. I remember sitting on the blue one and holding on to the red in hope.

Who's your role model?

Katherine Hammett. She has dedicated her life's work to making a real difference in the fashion industry. Her statement t-shirts and research into a truly ethical cotton have been both powerful and inspiring. I love how she uses fashion as a political tool. She is still a leader in the field today. Yet it was 1984 when she won 'Designer of the Year' and met Thatcher wearing a t-shirt that said '58% DON'T WANT PERSHING.'

What's your favourite activity outside of being a social entrepreneur?

Live music from seeing bands to watching DJs. I am also training to be a yoga teacher.

What is the issue or campaign that matters most to you?

It's a really hard question, there is so much needed to change in the world. My focus now is sustainability, it's about tackling the social, the environmental and the economic together. When it comes to politics, the thing that infuriates me most is wasting time over personal attacks.

What would you recommend to people who would be keen to be a social entrepreneur?

"Be imaginative, be brave, there are so many organisations that want to help you."

NOMINATE YOURSELF FOR THE COMPASS YOUTH EXECUTIVE


Compass Youth Organising Committee - Elections

Compass Youth has had a phenomenal year, so why not get involved and become part of the Organising Committee - Be the change!

This year the Compass Youth Organising Committee elections will run alongside the timetable and democratic process for the Compass AGM. Any member of Compass who is under 31 may stand in this election and vote. Self-nominations must be received by

Monday 6th October @ 5pm

The Compass Youth Organising Commitee is a dynamic and action focussed committee, we plan and take responsiblity for organising a wide range of campaigns, events and international trips each year. We have people developing Compass Youth TV, our web campaigns and platform, campaigning toolkits and recruitment to the movement. We organise policy debates and campaign training seminars - but we are not a talking shop because everything we do is action led and foccussed on building the movement. The organising committee comprises of 12 members four of which are reserved places for women. We also have the chance to co-opt extra members if they have a skill set or area of expertise that would really help with building our networks, campaigns and organisation.

Please check out what we have been up to over the past year in the Compass Annual report: Download the Compass Annual Report 07/0

Nominate yourself by sending an email to gavin@compassonline.org.uk or writing to the address below, you must provide a statement of no more than 250 words.

Voting will take place between Friday 10 October – Thursday 30 October.

If you have any urgent questions or want to know more please contact Sam Tarry Chair of Compass Youth on +447971819830 or at youthchair@compassonline.org.uk