PROGRESSIVE LONDON - WHAT HAPPENED?

Spending most of my time preparing and facilitating our All Doled Up session on youth unemployment, I didn't get a chance to catch many of the sessions nor tweet about ours at the Progressive London conference yesterday.

Anyway, the rest of the time I spent catching up with friends and meeting new ones @pickledpolitics @UpRiseFestival @nusbc @samtarry @rowenna_davis @gemmatumelty @tommilleruk @ben_so @mydavidcameron @bieneosa @davidtaylor85 @speckl @benfolley @johannhari101 @ULU_President @EllieCRobinson @IDontDoTwitta @leejamesbrown @fio_edwards and others.

Anyway as I didn't make most of the sessions, I thought I'd check the #prolondon twitter stream to see what the crowds were talking about, here's what I caught:

Some of the juicy issues

UpRiseFestival Lots of talk about the importance of a collective voice against racism - a view that we share. #prolondon

@BorisWatch Laurie Penny making the forceful point that women can and do blog, and get worse treatment. Both true. #prolondon

The ideas for the future

@SamTarry Buzzing ideas in @compassyouth session at #proLDN conference on youth unemployment: - hope some radical empowering campaigns come out of it!

The soundbites to take away

@kerryabel 'We need to become a society that celebrates not just tolerates' #prolondon

The speakers that inspired us

@pennyred Had a great day at #prolondon, feeling really energised and inspired for the first time in ages. Bonnie Greer blew me away.

The mad mix of sessions

@wilassie Thanks for people tweeting from environment session; wish I could be in two sessions at once... #prolondon

@liannedemello This is gonna be supremely difficult - I want to be in the climate change, the electoral reform and public spending #prolondon

@pickledpolitics In fact the entire #ProLondon conference is packed out. Lots of ppl interested in where the left is headed.

The tasty lunch

@ktcita Best conference lunch ever Thank you #prolondon http://tweetphoto.com/9981417

...so good people didn't want to leave

@kerrabel I am doing the cloakroom at #prolondon. People just don't want to leave.

What do we when faced with rhetoric versus reality...

@EllieCRobinson Harriet rocks!Great Hill report and obviously tory policy is bad. But what is labour actually gonna DO to reduce inequality? #proLDN

Well, we could start with stopping…

@political_animal Mehdi Hasan of New Statesman: stop this triangulated nonsense about how our cuts will be nicer than your cuts. #prolondon

because...

@tomcarolan You lose the argument when you purely define yourself in terms of your enemy. #prolondon


...and instead focus on

Investment not cuts! Let's #invest in the future of this society by investing in young people at #HigherEducation. #ProLondon Conf, 30th jan

...and when we do put our ideas forward, what happens when...

@speckl Found myself heckling @EdMilibandMP again, this time at #prolondon. Sorry, Ed. It's just...you never really answer my questions.

But maybe we're forgetting something?

@EllieCRobinson #proLondon ed milliband - one of the problems is we only talk to ourselves. Need more outreach

@wiilassie Sunder: would like pluralism in *campaign* not coalitions formed in smoke-filled rooms after votes counted. #prolondon

And the question that’s on everyone’s lips, will Ken be London’s next mayor?

@benfolley Good to hear Jon Cruddas introduce Ken Livingstone as "London's next mayor" at #ProLondon this afternoon

So, what will you pledge?

The lessons we learnt

Sunny (@pickledpolitics) encouraging people to pass on stories to blogs - don't have to start your own #prolondon

PROVIDE MASSIVE VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES

There is a danger that young people lose hope in their chances of finding a job before they’ve had a chance to make a contribution, so providing massive volunteering opportunities could a way to tackle that.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

For Pomfrett, who has gone through homelessness, psychiatric wards, suicide attempts and five different prisons to get to where he is now, this isn’t an opportunity to throw away. “I’ll never go back to the way I was, no way,” he says. “It’s just good to wake up every morning, go to work and earn money. Having this job, I can walk down the street with my head held high.” From the Guardian.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE

Young people were more likely to support than oppose the idea of introducing a compulsory national service in return for a modest payment for living costs, like the minimum wage.

PAY INTERNS BENEFITS

“Give young people a bigger benefit payment – to pay for travel and lunch – if they can find themselves an internship with a business that needs staff but doesn’t have the profits to take them on, and second the staff presently working on those other programmes to administer such deals. That way, young people will at least be gaining experience instead of feeling depressed.” Deborah Orr in the Guardian.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

PAY INTERNS AND APPRENTICES THE MINIMUM WAGE

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “The Future Jobs Fund will provide much needed help for 100,000 young people. Without this there is a real risk young people could be forced into a cycle of unpaid internships and work experience, which are no substitute for real jobs paying a decent wage.”

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

FUTURE FIRST FRANCHISING OF IDEAS

Jake Hyman advises both organizations and corporations seeking to become more socially aware and new social entrepreneurs wanting to start up.

Regarding funding there are frequently mental barriers. New young social entrepreneurs often question and lack belief in themselves. He gave the example of a US venture which made a profit on quirky gifts and then sold the company for significant profit. He argued social entrepreneurs need to look at how to build sustainability, and profit making models.

Indeed, he asked, is social enterprise purely a business that makes money and then gives some profits to good causes, or is it purely based on a certain type of work?

So we need to look at new ways to think of this whole frame. He reported work in the US with Peaceworks, an organisation aiming to get populations in areas of conflict to work together to sell produce; they deserve the right to make some money.

He also spoke on the philosophy of social enterprise. Some people are of the view that you can’t hold a dual motivation of making money and putting money back in. Jake believed otherwise.

He used the example of Global Ethics, a consumer goods company, selling bottled water. 100% of profits go towards ethical living and so far they’ve given around three million to charity. In other words, they give money away to get a competitive enterprise.

Another social enterprise he works with is Future First. This works in schools, getting young people to become role models, start thinking about what they might do and providing them with experiences of social enterprise.

Jake noted that social enterprises are effectively no use if they don’t make money, they might as well just be charities. That’s why you need dual areas of profits and social awareness. The current trends in the market gear towards companies working on issues around disabled, elderly and importantly for this debate, young people.

On the issue of financing, over of half of them rely on some kind of grant donations. This model is unsustainable with many effectively acting like charities, and only 42% rely on this type of income, with no full time staff. Donor industries effectively props them up.

He stated that social enterprise is just a vehicle for an organization. Once you’ve hired the first few people, people won’t be as bothered once they’re in work. Jake believed that they can also be a means to provide services.

Regarding fighting youth employment, he believed social enterprise is not the answer. The difficulties all around and subsidising volunteering is fine but not a solution. We need to focus on solving problems.

Jake suggested shifting focus to concentrate on franchising on existing ideas and businesses, to get things spread and done in communities.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

MOBILISING YOUNG PEOPLE TO CREATE LOCAL AND GLOBAL CHANGE

Amisha Ghadiali runs a jewellery label and works with a fair trade workshop in India and UK focused charities. She has a strong belief in the role of creativity, making your mark.

She is also currently in two other related jobs.

As co-director of the Ethical Fashion Forum, she works with designers, suppliers, retailers to clean up supply chains. She helps people find market places.

She is also a host at the Hub in Kings Cross. The Hub was started by inspiring figures such as Anita Roddick and was formed as a result of a project in Soweto/Somalia. They also work with Careers Unltd, Space Inc and the Graduate Careers Fair recruitment day.

Amisha described The Hub as a way to house all of these energies and ideas, bringing people together, also making it fun collaboration. There are now 12 Hubs present all over the world.

She admitted she had a pessimistic short term view about unemployment and the current economic climate, with no jobs for people at the Ethical Fashion Forum despite some good interns.

However, there a spaces which are developing for young people. The Otesha Project mobilises young people to create global and local change.

The big question on how to change things in the long term is how to improve sustainability.

Amisha sees social enterprise as an opportunity to raise consciousness and how we see the world.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

ONE IN FIVE TO ONE IN FOUR?

David Floyd runs Social Spider. Much of its work is media related, with a social element to the product and the process, the magazines being written for and by young people.

An example is the One In Four magazine, a mental health magazine which is their flagship product. This is distributed by bulk by clients, often by services users.

David mentioned that in the state of social enterprise survey, Social Spider (which he defined as “my tiny business with six people employed”) was in the top half of all social enterprises in terms of turnover.

He stated that social enterprise can’t tackle youth unemployment, but young people can get out of it by forming their own businesses.

He also noted that forming a business is technically speaking very easy, £20 to register and you get lots of support for doing so.

He accepted the need to work within current capitalist structures and stated that Social Spider has neither corporate masters, nor councils as bosses.

Currently an economy exists whereby lots of people are making money through helping other people write business plans. When looking at people’s business plans the three main questions to ask are can I do it, what’s the point of me doing it and will someone pay me to do it? The most important thing is about asking questions, recognising what we need to find out and who do I need to speak to.

David cited the example of the Future Jobs Fund, with Social Spider about to trial this with one employee. The scheme is aimed at the long term unemployed (16-25). He noted concerns about the possibility of some companies using this for cheap labour.

He also noted within the wider social enterprise frame, a conflict exists between wanting brilliant individuals and other people who don’t fit in the box or who don’t have the clarity or ideas, with a strong focus on brilliant individuals that change the world. Social enterprise also doesn’t focus on moving people into business.

He pointed out the limits of social enterprise, defining what a social enterprise is; is it there as a charity? The terms are not clear. Also what is the role of communities delivering major public services, with increasingly local authorities seeing social enterprises as delivering local services? David believed that social enterprises shouldn’t be delivering public services.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

MAKE APPLICANTS AWARE OF THE EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS OF THEIR DEGREE

The main policy proposed aimed to address the problem of far more people taking degrees than the economy required, and yet still expecting a job at the end that pays additionally for the degree. It had two main sides.

Firstly, it is important to make prospective applicants aware of the employment opportunities available for their specific degree. There are few jobs that specifically require humanities and arts subjects, yet they are far more popular than science and math.

By making applicants aware of the employment prospects of their degree we can aim to give them more realistic expectations when leaving university. If they take a degree that is not in high demand that is fine, but they set themselves up for unemployment if they expect a far better paid job on the other side.

Secondly, there needs to be more of a limit on the numbers attending university. With the number of graduates going up employers increasingly demand a degree to get a job, whether or not it benefits the job, forcing more and more people to go to university.

Instead we need to look at who benefits most from a degree. More diverse forms of training need to be available, a degree being just one option of them. At that point we can offer degrees to those who are academically able, and likely to go onto academic jobs. At the same time we should be offering more substantial and flexible training qualifications for the service industry, for example.

The maximum potential of the economy is not found by training everybody academically, it is found by training individuals for what they are best at, so that they can go on to utilize their strongest skills in the economy.

NOUVEAU APPRENTICE POLICY

The nouveau apprentice policy proposal is based around addressing the shift in the labour market from being previously dominant in the primary and secondary sectors to the tertiary sectors. Predominantly administration jobs would be offered within the civil service for young people regardless of grades who are motivated to work.

Their job would be combined with mandatory training and money to be spent according to the interests for training courses thus preventing a culture of entrapment and enabling diversification in other fields. Young people are given independence in choosing meaning they are likely to use their qualifications and the money is not wasted.

The learning approach is very hands on and recognises not everyone is an audio learner but often visual and kinaesthetic learner as they learn whilst practically doing the job. The government would also save money because their salaries would be lower than they are currently and many people would be weaned off benefits.

By increasing the numbers in the labour force more money would be spent with the resultant effect of more jobs being created.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

SCHOOLS TAKEOVER

Young people are leaving the education system with less and less to show for the years they spent studying. Unprepared for the bloody battle for employment. Unequipped compared to their older counterparts in the job hunt. However, with a 37% turnout of voters between the ages of 18 to 24 at the last general election compared to the three-quarters of over 65s, is it our generation’s fault that our requirements to compete for careers are falling on deaf ears in Parliament?

The Schools Takeover event was a chance for young people to have their say on what needs to be done to resolve the issues facing school leavers. Using the medium of debate to share and strengthen their ideas, this was an opportunity for those next in line to brave the search for scarce employment to get their opinions out there and pray that they would be listened to whilst they were still in education.

The event began with two speeches from New Turn’s Hayley Carr and Lucy Makinson; presenting two different approaches for combating the current state of the young people’s job market.

Hayley promoted a new public sector scheme, the Nouveau Apprentice Policy. This is a strategy which would capitalise on the fact that this young generation, like none before, has grown up with technology, learning to use Windows has become an integral childhood past time, hence this is where their comparative advantage lies.

These Screen-agers are much more apt to perform computer-based roles than those older than them. Instead of leaving the school system with poor qualifications and being shooed straight into a dead-end career in manual labour, there would be a new part of the tertiary civil sector open to them, a branch built to maintain the fresh-faced products of education and provide them with hope.

Initially utilising their skills in basic admin roles, the starting salary that could be offered would be £12000 per annum but compared to the £50.95 a week on offer as unemployment benefits (totalling £2649.40 a year), this is plenty, especially as there would be a clear-cut path to success, career mobility, through the ability to pick up qualifications and specialise in their role to climb to the top.

Lucy took quite the opposite approach commencing with a quote from Phillip Blond, “Even in a country where everyone has a PhD, someone still has to sweep the streets”. This was a controversial speech built around the idea that less people should be able to attend – or be funded through – university, as this would revalue a degree back to what it once was, a symbol of academic merit, not another must-have on the hedonic treadmill for our generation.

She suggested that students should also be given a more realistic idea about the job prospects they could expect with a degree in their field. Stricter university criteria and frank information, would then be expected to inspire new-found pragmatism as university expenses would seem less worthwhile and so there would be increase demand for more diverse forms of further education which the government could provide.

Both speeches were met with heavy questioning from the floor. Whether or not politicians will listen, young people do care and they are prepared to get active for a cause – especially one so close to their pockets.

The speeches were followed by a debate over the motion, ‘this house would abolish private schools’, aimed at getting young people’s views on whether private schools blatant domination of the school system as a result factory has been too effective at deforming the market for higher education and employment.

CASE’s (Campaign for State Education) Arthur Baker and Harry Coath set out the argument that independent schools distort the system, taking 14% of teachers to cater for just 7% of pupils. Using higher salaries as bait to draw in the top teachers to produce ‘higher calibre’ students.

Arthur questioned whether exam results are only defining factor of a good education? Or are they just where the apparent inequality in education lies?

Their points were due to be retorted by a side from a top London-based private school, however braving the snow is clearly something left out of the independent school syllabus and due to a no-show, New Turn’s Babs Williams and Axel Landin had to step in playing the devil’s advocate to attempt to shield the dignity of private education.

They claimed that the views of private school students as superior snobs are outdated, now independent schools just offer a different form of education with proven results for those who can afford to pay. The debate quickly digressed into a lampooning of private schools from both sides, with certain members of the audience trying to maintain some of the honour of an independent education.

Overall, the event worked as an effective platform for young people to share their opinions, which will then be formalised through organisations such as Compass, CASE and New Turn as part of the All Doled Up campaign. It is through movements such as this that a supposedly left-wing 70% Etonian labour cabinet can be galvanised into taking action against the current flailing condition of state education.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

YOUNG WORKERS IN THE RECESSION - THE ORGANISING CHALLENGE

As a young trade union activist, I’m interested to know what the Government is doing for young people facing the worst of times in this current recession?

And, perhaps more importantly from our perspective, how unions are tackling the challenge of organising young workers concentrated in areas where we have little or no union presense?

How do we speak with young workers, wherever they work, in a language that is relevant?

If you have any further suggestions let the TUC know by emailing Matt Dykes, the TUC’s policy officer for Young People at mdykes@tuc.org.uk

But here are a few of my own thoughts on the matter:

It’s a tough world out there for our younger generation today. For too many young people choices are narrowing as unemployment runs rampant, jobs remain concentrated in low skilled, low paying sectors, unpaid volunteering the only route for many into the professions and competition for decent apprenticeships and university places intensifies with supply lagging well behind demand.

The awareness of the long term effects of the recession on young people’s aspirations and working lives has led to journalists, academics and politicians of all stripes to increasingly speak of a “lost generation”, a cliché perhaps but one with an ominous ring of truth about it for those of us out there facing the sharp end of the labour market in our teens and early twenties.

All this poses clear challenges for Government and employers. While it’s heartening to see this Government, unlike previous administrations, committing itself to addressing the needs of young people, it remains to be seen whether the package of support within the ‘Backing Young Britain’ initiative is of sufficient scale to make a significant impact on the problem of endemic youth unemployment. The guarantee of a job or training place for all long term unemployed young people is a bold commitment. Increasing public sector apprenticeships, as seen by the NHS recently, is genuine progress and the Future Jobs Fund shows a clear break from past initiatives with a focus on real job creation. But the Government’s enthusiasm for internships and work experience as a potential solution leaves me cold. Without further guarantees of decent minimum standards, the intern route is always going to be open to exploitation.

What’s more, the Government’s strategy hinges on genuine commitment from employers. Without this, ‘Backing Young Britain’ gets nowhere because the jobs, internships and apprenticeships will fail to materialise. Or at least, will fail to materialise in a way that provides a quality route into sustainable work. The Government needs to find more ways to ensure that employers engage in and contribute to this agenda. Using its considerable purchasing power as a procurer of goods and services from the private sector would seem one way of obliging employers to participate in the Government’s plans.

And, of course, the unions have a key role to play in all this. There are three big challenges for us to meet.

First, we need to continue to campaign and lobby Government to ensure that job creation and work experience initiatives are rewarding and effective, providing sustainable pathways into employment and more good quality apprenticeships are made available to young people. And we need to use our presence in the workplace to monitor the real experiences of young people entering employment through these schemes. That unions have been given an advisory role on the Future Jobs Fund panels is one very welcome example of how we can feed into this.

Second, unions can play a supportive role with young people entering work for the first time, particularly those previously unemployed and excluded young people coming to the workplace through Government initiatives. Developing cohorts of union reps who can play an active role in mentoring and supporting young apprentices, work experience placements and other new entrants not only helps those vulnerable young people but promotes recruitment and organisation, demonstrating the value of union membership to new groups of workers.

Finally, trade unions need to do more to organise and recruit more widely among young workers. Young people make up a sizeable chunk of the workforce with workers aged 16 to 24 making up 14% of the total workforce. Around a third of 16 and 17 year olds and two thirds of 18 to 24 year olds are in employment. They are most likely to be in low paid work and suffer higher levels of bullying and employment rights abuses. And yet union membership among young people is notoriously low with only one in ten of this age group joining a trade union.

There are specific reasons for this: young people are more likely to move jobs so there is high probability that they will leave a union because they move to an employer without union presence and younger workers are overwhelmingly concentrated in sectors where union density is particularly low.

Trade unionists used to complain that young people had become a generation of Thatcher’s children and that they were no longer willing to join trade unions. The reality now is that rather than having a negative image of trade unions, many young people simply have no image of trade unions at all.

But several trade unions are already proving that organising young workers can be successful, with the right kind of targeted work. So what kind of organising and engagement has proved effective?

For unions to really make their mark among young workers there needs to be a greater union presence in those sectors where young people are concentrated. For unions to recruit young members, they need to be in the hotels, restaurants, shops, and call centres where so many young people start their working lives. This, of course, poses a whole set of organising challenges for unions but both Unite and GMB have shown that these kind of workplaces don’t have to be union-free zones and that young people are often willing to join when unions find them.

Schools and colleges are also a good place to start. For a number of years now the TUC has provided teaching materials and volunteer speakers for schools. But delivery has been patchy, with real challenges both in providing speakers who are able to find the time off to participate and in building demand for the service from schools. There’s also scope to develop our teaching materials, providing more up to date and user friendly teaching materials that can be applied to the modern classroom where technology allows for greater use of multi-media approaches. It will be interesting to see how the TUC develops this in coming months and how we can put this work on a more sustainable footing, without over-reliance on volunteer reps to undertake the work.

Engaging with students in the Further and Higher Education sectors potentially offers more immediate organising gains. Large numbers of students are already in work and often concentrated around campuses with student unions offering a range of support services that trade unions can work with.

The TUC and NUS protocol signed in 2006 was a significant development and new strategies emerged as a result. This has included the joint production of information on employment rights and housing for students as well as some pilot organising projects delivered in two TUC regions and currently in Wales.

Engagement with students has often been most effective where unions have been able to link with vocational training relevant to their industries. Equity, NUT and NUJ are examples of how this can prove very effective, particularly when backed up with student structures within the union. UNISON has also established a similar approach with student nurses.

Increasing awareness and recruiting young members is only part of the challenge. We need to develop future activists and make our unions attractive and inclusive for young people. It’s therefore essential that unions develop our younger members and empower them with a voice within their own unions.

16 of the 55 TUC affiliated trade unions have some kind of targeted activity with younger members and most of these have internal structures which help bring young members into the trade union mainstream. Unite, PCS, UNISON and CWU are some of the unions that have seen real growth in activism as a result of establishing young members structures. It stands to reason that young members get active when the union is seen to value them.

The TUC’s Young Members Forum and Conference makes an essential contribution to the work of the TUC, giving young members a platform to make their views known to the TUC and its affiliated unions though the General Council and ensuring that their voice contributes to national TUC policy. It also acts as a forum to bring young activists together from across our unions, an engine room for ideas and change at the heart of our movement.

The TUC’s Organising Academy, and recently launched Activist Academy, are key vehicles for building the skills of our young activists both within the trade union movement but also with students, through our partnership with the NUS. And the Activist Academy offers real potential to motivate new activists.

Finally, it is imperative that we consistently make the case for a better deal for young people. We need to continue to lobby for a National Minimum Wage that does not discriminate against younger workers, for more and better apprenticeships and to tackle the chronic lack of affordable housing for young people.

Ultimately, we need to be seen as the champion of young people in the workplace. And to show that becoming a trade union member is not some relic of a bygone industrial age, but the best way of guaranteeing decency and dignity at work in an age of huge change.

John Walsh, General Council member and Chair of the Young Members Forum. Also published here.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

EQUALISE THE MINIMUM WAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PEOPLE

When people argue that not being paid the minimum wage isn’t important when you consider the invaluable work experience you get when you carry out an apprenticeship or internship, they ignore that young people still have to pay the same levels of rent as anyone else and often have to pay back student debt loans too. Like other low earners, we’re forced to pay more for most things, from food to utilities – the so called “Poverty Premium”. It’s not only discriminatory that the national minimum wage is lower for people under 22, there are even calls that it should be frozen full stop for young people.

That’s why we should equalise the minimum wage for all young people, including those under 22, on apprenticeships, internships and other work placements.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

CAMPAIGN FOR A COMMUNITY ALLOWANCE

Young people out of work have skills and assets that are invaluable to community groups. They have connections in the area and can better understand the experience of others out of work.

That’s why we should campaign for a community allowance linking those out of work with those in work, not on the basis of their relationship to the labour market but on their relationship to the community.

This would support young people out of work to take their first steps back into work, developing their skills, experience and confidence. By enabling them to earn an income on top of their benefits and providing integrated training and support, it makes the money spent on the benefits system work for people and their communities. Indeed, for every pound invested in the Community Allowance £10 worth of social value is created.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

ONE OFF EXPANSION OF HIGHER EDUCATION PLACES

A one-off expansion of HE places in 2010 so that all suitably qualified applicants are guaranteed a university place. There is an increase in the size of the age cohort in the next year (which will disappear in 2011). We are not calling for a reduction in standards or entry requirements, simply an increase in resources so that the grades good enough to secure access in 2007 are the same as the grades to secure access in 2010.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

INCREASE JOB SEEKERS ALLOWANCE BY £10 PER WEEK

Proposals by the Work Foundation of increasing the Job Seeker’s Allowance of £10 per week and by the Fabians’ proposal of extending the working tax credit entitlement to young people under 25 without children are welcomed.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

INTRODUCE A WAGE SUBSIDY FOR WORKERS THAT HAVE HAD THEIR HOURS CUT

Workers are already negotiating with their employers on a case by case basis to shorting working hours.

We propose a short time working scheme similar to that used in Germany. It has helped keep unemployment there lower than it would have been and the government has guaranteed to pay workers on the scheme up to two thirds of their lost net earnings.

This is a universal scheme available to all employees who have had their wages cut by more than 10%, no matter what their original income. It therefore incentivises everyone including between the employer and its employees.

The government covers half of the employer’s social insurance contributions and all of the contributions which relate to the payment of short time work allowances. These costs are lower than unemployment benefit.

We also propose that the government offers financial incentives for participating employers to subsidise training costs, similar to the Welsh ProAct scheme.

This forms part of our wider call for the 48 hour working week to be implemented in full immediately and not delayed any longer.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

EMBED TIMEBANKING WITHIN PUBLIC SERVICES

We should embed timebanking within public services themselves, especially those closest to the community, such as jobcentres, schools and youth clubs.

These approaches not only develop people’s skills, they build the capacity of the community to become more resilient in collaboration with public services. This helps everyone feel ownership in preventing avoidable needs arising and reducing demand on the services themselves.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

YOUTH BUILD

YouthBuild is an example of a youth corps model that focuses on secondary education. YouthBuild members rebuild their lives while rebuilding low-income housing. Participants are 16 to 24 years of age and face multiple challenges. Most fared poorly in school and other programs that failed to provide a supportive climate for learning and development. Joining the program brings them into a community of caring adults and youth committed to each other's success while improving the conditions in their neighborhoods. And upon graduation form the program, they become members of a supportive alumni network for a lifetime.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

YOUNG WORKERS IN THE RECESSION - THE ORGANISING CHALLENGE

As a young trade union activist, I’m interested to know what the Government is doing for young people facing the worst of times in this current recession?

And, perhaps more importantly from our perspective, how unions are tackling the challenge of organising young workers concentrated in areas where we have little or no union presense?

How do we speak with young workers, wherever they work, in a language that is relevant?

If you have any further suggestions let the TUC know by emailing Matt Dykes, the TUC’s policy officer for Young People at mdykes@tuc.org.uk

But here are a few of my own thoughts on the matter:

It’s a tough world out there for our younger generation today. For too many young people choices are narrowing as unemployment runs rampant, jobs remain concentrated in low skilled, low paying sectors, unpaid volunteering the only route for many into the professions and competition for decent apprenticeships and university places intensifies with supply lagging well behind demand.

The awareness of the long term effects of the recession on young people’s aspirations and working lives has led to journalists, academics and politicians of all stripes to increasingly speak of a “lost generation”, a cliché perhaps but one with an ominous ring of truth about it for those of us out there facing the sharp end of the labour market in our teens and early twenties.

All this poses clear challenges for Government and employers. While it’s heartening to see this Government, unlike previous administrations, committing itself to addressing the needs of young people, it remains to be seen whether the package of support within the ‘Backing Young Britain’ initiative is of sufficient scale to make a significant impact on the problem of endemic youth unemployment. The guarantee of a job or training place for all long term unemployed young people is a bold commitment. Increasing public sector apprenticeships, as seen by the NHS recently, is genuine progress and the Future Jobs Fund shows a clear break from past initiatives with a focus on real job creation. But the Government’s enthusiasm for internships and work experience as a potential solution leaves me cold. Without further guarantees of decent minimum standards, the intern route is always going to be open to exploitation.

What’s more, the Government’s strategy hinges on genuine commitment from employers. Without this, ‘Backing Young Britain’ gets nowhere because the jobs, internships and apprenticeships will fail to materialise. Or at least, will fail to materialise in a way that provides a quality route into sustainable work. The Government needs to find more ways to ensure that employers engage in and contribute to this agenda. Using its considerable purchasing power as a procurer of goods and services from the private sector would seem one way of obliging employers to participate in the Government’s plans.

And, of course, the unions have a key role to play in all this. There are three big challenges for us to meet.

First, we need to continue to campaign and lobby Government to ensure that job creation and work experience initiatives are rewarding and effective, providing sustainable pathways into employment and more good quality apprenticeships are made available to young people. And we need to use our presence in the workplace to monitor the real experiences of young people entering employment through these schemes. That unions have been given an advisory role on the Future Jobs Fund panels is one very welcome example of how we can feed into this.

Second, unions can play a supportive role with young people entering work for the first time, particularly those previously unemployed and excluded young people coming to the workplace through Government initiatives. Developing cohorts of union reps who can play an active role in mentoring and supporting young apprentices, work experience placements and other new entrants not only helps those vulnerable young people but promotes recruitment and organisation, demonstrating the value of union membership to new groups of workers.

Finally, trade unions need to do more to organise and recruit more widely among young workers. Young people make up a sizeable chunk of the workforce with workers aged 16 to 24 making up 14% of the total workforce. Around a third of 16 and 17 year olds and two thirds of 18 to 24 year olds are in employment. They are most likely to be in low paid work and suffer higher levels of bullying and employment rights abuses. And yet union membership among young people is notoriously low with only one in ten of this age group joining a trade union.

There are specific reasons for this: young people are more likely to move jobs so there is high probability that they will leave a union because they move to an employer without union presence and younger workers are overwhelmingly concentrated in sectors where union density is particularly low.

Trade unionists used to complain that young people had become a generation of Thatcher’s children and that they were no longer willing to join trade unions. The reality now is that rather than having a negative image of trade unions, many young people simply have no image of trade unions at all.

But several trade unions are already proving that organising young workers can be successful, with the right kind of targeted work. So what kind of organising and engagement has proved effective?

For unions to really make their mark among young workers there needs to be a greater union presence in those sectors where young people are concentrated. For unions to recruit young members, they need to be in the hotels, restaurants, shops, and call centres where so many young people start their working lives. This, of course, poses a whole set of organising challenges for unions but both Unite and GMB have shown that these kind of workplaces don’t have to be union-free zones and that young people are often willing to join when unions find them.

Schools and colleges are also a good place to start. For a number of years now the TUC has provided teaching materials and volunteer speakers for schools. But delivery has been patchy, with real challenges both in providing speakers who are able to find the time off to participate and in building demand for the service from schools. There’s also scope to develop our teaching materials, providing more up to date and user friendly teaching materials that can be applied to the modern classroom where technology allows for greater use of multi-media approaches. It will be interesting to see how the TUC develops this in coming months and how we can put this work on a more sustainable footing, without over-reliance on volunteer reps to undertake the work.

Engaging with students in the Further and Higher Education sectors potentially offers more immediate organising gains. Large numbers of students are already in work and often concentrated around campuses with student unions offering a range of support services that trade unions can work with.

The TUC and NUS protocol signed in 2006 was a significant development and new strategies emerged as a result. This has included the joint production of information on employment rights and housing for students as well as some pilot organising projects delivered in two TUC regions and currently in Wales.

Engagement with students has often been most effective where unions have been able to link with vocational training relevant to their industries. Equity, NUT and NUJ are examples of how this can prove very effective, particularly when backed up with student structures within the union. UNISON has also established a similar approach with student nurses.

Increasing awareness and recruiting young members is only part of the challenge. We need to develop future activists and make our unions attractive and inclusive for young people. It’s therefore essential that unions develop our younger members and empower them with a voice within their own unions.

16 of the 55 TUC affiliated trade unions have some kind of targeted activity with younger members and most of these have internal structures which help bring young members into the trade union mainstream. Unite, PCS, UNISON and CWU are some of the unions that have seen real growth in activism as a result of establishing young members structures. It stands to reason that young members get active when the union is seen to value them.

The TUC’s Young Members Forum and Conference makes an essential contribution to the work of the TUC, giving young members a platform to make their views known to the TUC and its affiliated unions though the General Council and ensuring that their voice contributes to national TUC policy. It also acts as a forum to bring young activists together from across our unions, an engine room for ideas and change at the heart of our movement.

The TUC’s Organising Academy, and recently launched Activist Academy, are key vehicles for building the skills of our young activists both within the trade union movement but also with students, through our partnership with the NUS. And the Activist Academy offers real potential to motivate new activists.

Finally, it is imperative that we consistently make the case for a better deal for young people. We need to continue to lobby for a National Minimum Wage that does not discriminate against younger workers, for more and better apprenticeships and to tackle the chronic lack of affordable housing for young people.

Ultimately, we need to be seen as the champion of young people in the workplace. And to show that becoming a trade union member is not some relic of a bygone industrial age, but the best way of guaranteeing decency and dignity at work in an age of huge change.

John Walsh, General Council member and Chair of the Young Members Forum. Also published here.

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

How can we support young social entrepreneurs?

Peter Ptachko works for Unltd. There are two million young people unemployed; there are also two million opportunities.

How do UnLtd support young social entrepreneurs?

UnLtd are experts on funding and focus on building soft skills and confidence. They’re all about backing people. They focus at the moment more on individuals. Often there are many young people who approach them with enthusiasm but not yet with the ideas/practical plans.

The idea of Young UnLtd is to fund the social entrepreneurs. Development managers follow the people for over a year. They offer specialist advice and meet them on a 1:1 basis giving them training and volunteering opportunities.

Their programmes focus around volunteering with projects - usually small scale ideas, such as environmental ideas.

UnLtd try and find out what makes the individual special and they can help support the young person to benefit their project in local communities. They aim to empower people to make social change happen.

How can social enterprise support public services?


Regarding social enterprise and public services, we discussed the John Lewis model of service provision, with a focus on employee ownership. The audience wasn’t convinced this was the right way to run public service. The debate around public services at present is based around whether social enterprises who will do a better job of providing services.

Peter stated that to support young people out of work

* They should be encouraged to tap into the wider social network of social entrepreneurs
* Apprenticeships and paid volunteering should be looked into more to help them

Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?

1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea

The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.

EL LCID

Labour's transformed the lives of many people in the last decade, and nowhere has the impact of a Labour Government been more acutely felt than in international development. For many of us, eradicating poverty is the reason we joined the Labour Party, and there is much to be proud of.

Since 1997, Labour has helped lift 3 million permanently out of poverty each year. We've helped get some 40 million children into school. Polio is on the verge of being eradicated and 3 million are now able to access life-preserving drugs for HIV and AIDS. 1.5 million people have improved water and sanitation services.

Tackling global poverty has been high on the agenda of our Party, and we want to keep it that way. That's why we, a group of Labour activists, have recently set up Labour Campaign for International Development.

We want to keep international development high on Labour's agenda, and to push our Government to build on its success and be bolder and go further still, in a similar way to our fraternal friends at SERA do on the environment.

We also want to use it as a vehicle to bring people who care about global poverty and other single issues in to the Labour Party. Be they young people engaging in politics for the first time, or former members who've turned away from party politics, we want to engage them.

First and foremost, we need them to vote Labour. In the lead up to the election, we'll be scrutinising the Conservatives to show just how much damage they would do to everything we've fought for over the last decade. Even if their promise to match our pledge to spend 0.7% on aid could be believed, it is what they would spend our aid money on that is most damaging – the same failed private sector solutions that failed in the 1980s. No one must be complacent of the Tory threat, or think that a vote for the Greens or Lib Dems will bring any more than a Tory Government.

But we can and will be more positive than that. We've got a proud record on development and we intend to shout about it to anti-poverty campaigners. By encouraging them into the Party, we can gain from their skills and energy and, we hope, help invigorate the Party in the process.

LCID is a growing organisation, and we'd love to have your involvement. We've set up a blog with regular news and comment at LCID.org.uk, and you can become a fan of our Facebook page to get regular updates.

To formally launch LCID, the Rt Hon Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, will be speaking at an event in the House of Commons on 02 February at 7pm. Please visit our website to RSVP.

We look forward to working with everyone in the Party over the coming weeks and months to keep Labour in Government transforming people's lives and lifting millions out of poverty.

by David Taylor, Chair, Labour Campaign for International Development

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

Hull was the city with the highest amount of youth unemployment in the UK in 2009; many of these Job loses are the results of the finacial crises.

Recently graduates and students have found themself under huge pressures due to a lack of jobs and financial support.

Compass Youth is running a campaign All Doled Up around the issues of youth unemployment; what is the reality and what should be done?

Please come and join us for this short gathering, tell us how unemployment has affected you, what should be done while young people are out of jobs to make the most out of their time and how it has effected students in particular. And we can for a drink after:)).

Click here to register.

CONGO DYING FOR HELP - WHY BOTHER?

by the Right Hon. the Lord David Alton of Liverpool

November 19th marked the Centenary Anniversary of the Great Congo Demonstration when, one hundred years ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Christian leaders, along with many Peers and fifty Members of Parliament assembled at the Royal Albert Hall to protest against the abuses by Belgium in the Congo –then known as the Congo Free State.

The Belgians had been responsible for terrible depredations in the Congo. That story is brilliantly told by Adam Hochschild in his admirable and comprehensive book, “King Leopold’s Ghost.” In many respects the shocking abuses of that period paved the way for the violence that has continued to haunt the benighted people of that disfigured land. More than 3 million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to this day unspeakable violence continues in the East of the country.

To mark the centenary of the Royal Albert Hotel gathering - and to protest at the continuing suffering inflicted on the people of the Congo - another group recently assembled at the same location and on the same date. Much of the credit for keeping the spotlight on these events must go to a young Congolese living in Britain, Vava Tampa, who is director of “Save The Congo.”

Vava Tampa was determined to emulate Edmond Dene Morel - the young man who campaigned to raise British awareness about the horrors being perpetrated in the Congo at the turn of the twentieth century. In particular he wanted to replicate the great “Letter of Protest” organized by Morel published by The Times, the letter was signed by eleven Peers, nineteen bishops, 76 Members of Parliament, the Presidents of seven Chambers of Commerce, thirteen editors of major newspaper, and every Lord Mayor in the U.K. It was an extraordinary achievement.

E.D. Morel – like Tampa - was a young man, in his twenties. Morel was an employee of a Liverpool shipping line which had the monopoly on all transport of cargo to and from the Congo Free State. The company had the franchise for the loading and un-loading of all ships working the Congo trade.

At the Port of Liverpool Morel saw his company’s vessels docking, filled to the hatch with valuable cargoes of rubber and ivory. He also saw the same ships return with soldiers, firearms and ammunition. Clearly, the sale of arms into Africa is sadly not a new phenomenon. We should hang our heads in shame that 95% of all the small arms used in Africa’s continuing conflicts are manufactured outside the continent.

Morel concluded from the evidence of his own eyes that the armaments and militia being sent back to Africa were being used in the Congo to enslave the local people into producing the bounty which Belgium was selling into British and other European markets. This was subsequently investigation by Sir Roger Casement, the British Counselor in the Congo. In his 1904 Report Casement concluded that up to ten million Congolese had been killed because of the practice.

Morel decided to resign from his Company and, single handedly, he led what became one of the most significant international human rights movements of the twentieth century. The British Foreign Secretary of the time, Sir Edward Grey, a man not given to overstatement, when describing E.D. Morel’s accomplishments declared that: “no external question for at least thirty years has moved the country so strongly and so vehemently”

In modeling himself on Morel, Vava Tampa says that “the “hear nothing, see nothing and do nothing” approach adopted by the world communit is a betrayal of our promise to “NEVER AGAIN!” stand idly by while innocent human beings are slaughtered. It denies justice to the victims; and questions our commitment to humanity.”

Tampa is right.

It is instructive that during November we have also been commemorating the fallen in two world wars. The sheer scale of the slaughter of the World War one trenches still horrifies anyone who thinks about it. But Africa has been going through its own World War One – with an estimated seven million dead across Equatorial Africa – victims of continuing conflict. And nowhere has suffered more than the Congo, as I have seen first hand.

In rewriting Morel’s letter of one hundred years ago, Tampa says his purpose is to join our voices in Britain with those of the sixty million Congolese people demanding peace, security, justice, an end to illicit mining, respect for human rights, empowerment of women, good governance, investment in education for the 15 million unschooled children and the curbing of the speed at which HIV AIDS and Fistula are spreading. He says that the human cost of these conflicts and wars can be curbed if major aid donors to governments in the Great Lake region unite in their determination to make the restoration of peace and justice in the Congo a priority.

As things currently stand, regional leaders – helped by the biggest United Nations Peace Keeping force in the world (MONUC) - have been unable to end the violence. We have been impotent in bringing to justice the leaders of rampaging and marauding militias.

Last month in Parliament I asked about our failure to Joseph Kony to justice. He's the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has carried out atrocities in Uganda, Southern Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Congo. They LRA recently carried out an attack in Darfur. Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Yet he remains at large.

I asked the Government what assessment we had made of where they get their funds and weapons. The Minister who replied said: : “ We have no verifiable information on the funding and provision of arms to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Anecdotal reports suggest however that the LRA has sustained itself through subsistence farming, pillage, preying on humanitarian assistance, brutal intimidation and killing of civilians and contacts with other regional militia groups.”

The complacency that this reply reveals is chilling. And until we get real about men like Kony, and militias that have killed, maimed, looted, and raped – and recruited thousands of orphaned child soldiers – the situation will not improve.

In replicating the 1909 letter the signatories of the 2009 Letter of Protest have rightly drawn attention to these continuing horrors. The letter states with great clarity:

“Today, with a death toll greater than that of a 9/11 every single day for 356 days, genocide that struck Rwanda in 1994, ethnic cleansing that overwhelmed Bosnia in the mid-1990s, genocide taking place in Darfur, and the great tsunami that struck Asia in 2005, and the number of people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined and then doubled, the world is looking away with hardly a peep.

“This conflict has pushed the Congo to the very edge of ruination; decimated social harmony; killed an estimated six million while sending millions more running in fear; brought material destruction and looting on a mass scale; orchestrated death squads; invented new horrors in rape on scale never seen before; and attacked Congo’s future generations with an HIV AIDS pandemic triggered by orchestrated campaigns of sexual atrocities against women - still spreading today at an alarming speed.”

They add:

“We know that there are, sadly, innumerable urgent humanitarian and human rights crises around the world, all of which require the world’s attention. Yet the Congolese conflict is the greatest since World War Two and addressing the unfolding human tragedy, the thriving culture of impunity and corruption is of paramount urgency. A peaceful Congo is critically important for the citizens of DRC and the whole Great Lakes region.”

Its’ a message the whole world needs to hear.

BODY IMAGE AND MENTAL HEALTH

In today’s society we are constantly bombarded by images of perfection. Billboards and posters surround us everywhere of beautiful people - whether you are standing at the bus stop, with images of Cheryl Cole staring back at you, or walking into a Newsagent to be confronted with copies of magazines such as Glamour and Vogue. It has been argued within the psychological and sociological world that these images have become our ideals and have therefore have affected the way we act and behave. Everybody wants to be perfect – even politicians are at it – we all know that David Cameron has been airbrushed in his latest poster campaign.

Research demonstrates that these images can lead to mental health issues such as, low self-esteem and depression due to us not being able to reach ‘ultimate perfection.’ Further mental health issues are becoming more common such as, anorexia and bulimia – John Prescott suffered with bulimia for quite a while. Eating disorders are extremely detrimental to people’s health – it was predicted that Brittany Murphy died from such a thing. Additionally, we all know that sunbeds can increase the chances of skin cancer, yet a majority of us still use them so that we can become one step closer to becoming perfect.

Negative body image is definitely a concern and people should be made aware of its impact, especially when it comes to young people. The Channel 4 presenter, Gok Wan, noted most famously by his hit TV series, ‘How To Look Good Naked,’ campaigned heavily last year to try and get ‘body confidence,’ on the school curriculum as over 70% of teenagers are estimated to have little or no body confidence, leading to issues such as self-harm. This needs to stop and from a moralistic standpoint, I believe that we need to start acting and campaigning on such things.

The new series of ‘How to Look Good Naked,’ begins tonight at 8.00, on Channel 4. I am very excited about this as I believe that this show is much deeper than materialistic ideals. Wan, challenges perceptions as he teaches people how to make the most of their body, by tackling self-esteem issues and ultimately increasing confidence. As a disabled activist, I am further excited, as his latest quest involves people with physical disabilities which is often overlooked in the fashion world. Wan tackles real issues to do with real people, and I think that we can all learn a lesson or two from him.

Rupy Kaur – Disability Coordinator

CREATIVE CAMPAIGNS CAMP - 7 FEBRUARY

Do you want to learn creative campaigning techniques and use them to help shape our campaign?


We’re launching "All Doled Up" our campaign on youth unemployment and we want you to try out new techniques to help develop it!


Almost one in five young people are out of work. Unemployment affects us all, whether we're out of work or our friends and family are.


That's why we want to work with you so you can do something about it together. So you can get together with other young people to campaign on youth unemployment where you live or study.


Toynbee Hall and Compass Youth want to invite you to an all day training day. So you’ll be able to



  • Use stories young people have shared with us on youth unemployment to spread the word about our campaign and get those in power to support and act on our pledges



  • Learn creative campaigning techniques - such as making viral videos, get your message out to the media and designing campaign visuals



You'll be able to try these out on the day itself with other young people and most importantly what you create will be what we use to campaign on youth unemployment - your videos, your slogans, your flyers!



This is what our last campaigns camp was like, just imagine you could take part in our next one!











Creative Campaigns Day 09 from Creative Campaigns Day on Vimeo.





What are you waiting for?

THE CUTS DON'T WORK


Do you want to vote which ideas we campaign on youth unemployment?

Do you want to help develop how we campaign on this?

The Cuts Don’t Work
Saturday 30 Jan - 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Congress House, Great Russell Street, London, United Kingdom


Why do we have to pay the price for their crisis? When they want to charge us more to get into university and get housing? While they carry on slashing our pay, our jobs and our services. It’s time to fight the recession. It’s time to take back our future.

Whether you’ve been involved in organizing before or not, you’re probably curious about how to campaign and maybe even fired up about an issue you’d like to campaign on.

You’ll be able to help develop campaign strategies on issues that are affecting young people the most through the recession. You can then work out with us and other young activists how we spread the word and how we target those in power to act.

We’ve also invited a cracking line up of speakers who are organising for young people right across the country:

Noel Hatch – Chair of Compass Youth

Rowenna Davis – Journalist at the Guardian, Independent and Headliners

Sam Tarry – Hope not Hate Organiser and Chair of Young Labour

Nizam Uddin – President of University of London Union

Bell Ribeiro-Addy – Black Students’ Officer for NUS

As well as the Mercury Music Award Winner – Speech Debelle!

So come and join us and Progressive London on Saturday 30th January between 10-5pm.

Sign up here!

Everyone who signs up to this session will get a free campaign toolkit on the day

Ideas are nothing without action. But together we can build the London we want to see.

This session is part of a wider conference that will bring together leading figures in London and beyond to discuss the most important issues for progressive politics in 2010, nationally, internationally and in London and the ideas, alliances and policies we need to move forward.

Progressive London was initiated by Ken Livingstone in 2008 as a cross-party, multi-community forum involving politicians, artists, trade unionists, bloggers, community activists and campaigners to promote social progress in the capital.

What will you pledge?

1. Sign up now

2. Bring along three of your friends

3. Come along

WHERE ARE THE YOUNG WOMEN IN POLITICS?


With the current political debate taking place on families and marriage it looks like issues close to women will be being discussed in the coming election campaign.

That's why we at Compass Youth hope we can use the platform to discuss women's representation in UK politics and beyond as well as 'women's issues' on the political agenda.


All four of our amazing speakers have different areas of interest and expertise so it should make for a really broad meeting and hopefully we should get some ideas for the future too.


Speakers confirmed:

  • Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
  • Dr Rainbow Murray, Politics Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London
  • Bellavia Ribeiro, Black Students' Officer, National Union of Students
  • Tulip Siddiq, Labour Party council candidate in Regent's Park and BAME Officer for Young Labour
Contact our Vice Chair - Cat Smith at cat@catsmith.co.uk if you have any queries.

What will you pledge?

1. Sign up now

2. Bring along three of your friends

3. Come along

YOUTH RESPONSE TO THE ECONOMIC CRISIS - 23 JANUARY


Crunch time - what's happening?

The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work is now 952,000 - the highest figure since records began. We’re in a down turn, but we refuse to believe we’ve crashed.

We’re the upside of down and it’s up to us to take action. Working with you, Compass Youth are developing a campaign that’s going to be led by you to start the bounce back.

Who's been queuing up?

Over the last six months, young people across the country from universities, youth groups, schools, graduates on the street and people in the job centre have been listening to each other and developing ideas for that we’ll then act on to make change happen.

We want your support in Barking and Dagenham

Whatever your background or situation we believe you’ve got a voice and the ability to act. Young people have come together across the country and now we’re bringing people together in Barking and Dagenham between 23 January between 10.30-3pm to explore the impact of the crisis and develop ideas for action.

From 11 to 12.30 we’ll be running a listening session with young people on the problems’s we face and the solutions we propose.

We’ll then take our conversation to the streets and campaign with Jon Cruddas on the issue of the economic crisis locally.

What next?

After listening to young people of all ages and backgrounds across the country we’ll work with you to decide the three most effective ideas for action at the session we're holding at the Progressive London conference on 30 January and then enable you to learn campaigning techniques to shape our campaign on 7th February at Toynbee Hall, before campaigning over the coming months.

What will you pledge?

1. Sign up now

2. Bring along three of your friends

3. Come along

SCHOOLS TAKEOVER THE AIRWAVES

INTERESTED IN FILMAKING, FASHION OR CAMPAIGNING?

Are you aged 16-25 and interested in filmmaking, fashion or campaigning?

Chocolate Films and London Metropolitan Archives are looking for young people to take part in:

STREET HERITAGE

Work with other young people to make documentaries giving a contemporary view on two aspects of London’s history that have had a presence on the streets of the capital – fashion and campaigning.

By taking part in a series of workshops run by professional filmmakers and archivists you will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn how to write, direct, shoot and edit a short documentary using professional camera and editing equipment.
  • Gain skills in archive research, film publicity and event management
  • Have your films screened at the LMA’s Youth Maze event at London Guildhall, submitted to film festivals around the UK and uploaded online to the Chocolate Films Youtube channel.
  • Work towards an Arts Award.


When

Street Heritage workshops will take place on:

Thursday evenings from 4pm – 7pm commencing Thursday 1 April and

full days 10am – 5pm during the spring half-term Mon 31st May – Friday 4th June.

Where

London Metropolitan Archives

40 Northampton Road

Clerkenwell

London EC1R 0HB

Places are limited - to sign up or for more information

Please get in touch with Ana Tovey at Chocolate Films

ana@chocolatefilms.com or 020 7793 4287

We are also looking for young people to get involved in deciding how the project runs by joining a youth steering group – please get in touch asap if you’re interested.

Do you have a story to tell about campaigning techniques you've been using or an activity you want to talk about? Email youthchair@compassonline.org.uk now!

WANT TO HELP RUN A CITIZENS' CONVENTION?

We want to thank you for the proposals you put forward at the session we organised with POWER 2010, including the idea you voted for us to campaign on.

Together we turned our ideas into government policy

Which is what we did! Thanks to your help, we got the government to pledge to hold a referendum for a fairer way of electing our politicians.

But our fight for a fairer democracy is not over. In small spaces can appear big ideas. You also told us you wanted to reform the parliament structure like a proportionally elected lords to re-engaging with local politics for a better local democracy.

Do you want to help run a Citizens' Convention?

That's why we want to offer you an exclusive chance to take part in an amazing opportunity to continue shaping POWER 2010.

Do you want to be a part of a Citizens Convention? A partner campaign, Power2010 is holding one as a part of its 21st century constituent assembly in this time of political crisis.

We're looking for people to help run the event, looking after the participant from 9:30 to 7:30 this Saturday and 8:30 to 6:30 on Sunday with meals provided and transport expenses within London paid.

For more information contact george@power2010.org.uk.

SCHOOLS TAKEOVER


Did you know that almost one in eight 16-19 year olds are not in education, employment or training? That almost one in five young people are out of work? That one in three 16-17 year olds are out of work?

Like other under-represented groups in the places of power, young people are marginalised. That's why we're opening up the doors of the House of Commons for young people to debate on the issues that matter to us.

After inviting young activists to organise our events on climate change and democratic reform, we want to invite you to help us shape our campaign on youth unemployment and debate school education.

Compass Youth is running an evening of debates at the House of Commons, in coalition with
New Turn and the Campaign for State Education, and we need you to join in!

How we should tackle youth unemployment for school leavers?

Get inspired by New Turn's Hayley Carr and Bren Albiston
Discuss and vote on which idea you think we should campaign on!


This house believes that Britain would be better off without private schools

For the motion, we have Arthur Baker, Harry Coath and Maya Thomas-Davis
Against the motion, we have the University College School London team

Debate and vote on whether you think Britain would be better off or not without private schools

LET'S STOP HIDING HIDDEN DISABILITIES

Let’s move away from the ‘quick fix’ approach and stop hiding ‘hidden’ disabilities.

A few months ago I was chatting to some friends about how there needs to be more disabled activists in the world and the different ways in which we could make this happen. We got onto the subject about the difference between physical disabilities and hidden disabilities.

About me

I was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP). CP is an umbrella phrase for those who encounter damage to the brain at the time of birth (usually due to the cause of a lack of oxygen) or at an early age. CP is not hereditary or life threatening and affects people in different ways, I have limited mobility.

If I am ‘out and about’ people instantly know that I am disabled as I can’t really hide my wheelchair from them. Therefore, I have never needed to ‘justify’ my disability to anybody as it has always been obvious.

I was asked on BBC Radio Manchester how I ‘dealt’ with being disabled. My reply was being disabled is just a part of me. Like most people who are born with a physical disability I have just adapted to my surroundings. Having CP in itself is not a barrier for me - in fact the reason as to why I was being interviewed was because I’m due to do a sponsored skydive for HOPE not Hate in March 2010.

I’m not saying everything is ‘hunky dory’ and obviously physically disabled people do face barriers in the world but a lot of the barriers faced are due to the fact that society has not fully caught up with the needs of disabled people. This is why I am a disabled activist. I am committed to promoting the social model of disability; this is that the term ‘disabled’ is largely a social construct (that’s a whole other blog, for a good explanation see - http://www.mdctrailblazers.org/campaigning/social-model).


Hidden disabilities

I have a lot of friends who have hidden disabilities ranging from aspersers to dyslexia to mental health issues.

From my understanding and observance, people find it difficult to understand the concept of hidden disabilities. I suppose, if you have a broken leg, then people know what tools are needed in order for that leg to be ‘fixed.’ It may be argued that the reason as to why people do not comprehend hidden disabilities is because the disability is not visibly obvious and therefore it cannot be ‘fixed.’

Some of my friends stated that it was easier for them to ‘hide’ their hidden disability as they did not want people to make an issue about it. One of my friends even suggested that opening up about their disability was just as difficult as telling people that he was gay.

The above got me thinking. Mental health is a disability and it is estimated that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health issue over the course of their lives. It is also estimated that the suicide rate is twice above the national average with young Asian women.

I come from a Sikh family and have noticed that there has always been a lack of understanding when it comes to mental health. I know quite a lot of depressed Asian women and it seems like the community have a ‘snap out of it and get it fixed’ kind of thinking and attitude. There is still the idea that people can be ‘cured’ and that by getting a pill from the doctor or psychiatrist can ‘fix’ the issue.

My degree was in Psychology and eventually I want to be a Clinical Psychologist. I went to a seminar given by Jon Cruddas a few months back and he made the point that there needs to be a greater emphasis on sociology and psychology within the political world. I agree and his comment fits nicely with this blog.

It is very rare to find a ‘quick fix’ solution, especially for mental health issues. As a future psychologist I believe we need to step away from the ‘quick fix’ approach. It seems that nowadays as soon as somebody mentions the word ‘depression’ to their GP, anti-depressants are given out. I am not saying that such drugs need to be banned but I do believe that medical intervention should only be given as a last resort.

There needs to be more of an emphasis on what ‘support structures’ can be provided for individuals rather than changing the chemicals inside of their brains. I do not think the amount of mental health issues will decrease if correct support structures are in place but what I do think is that people will feel increasingly confident to use the tools that are provided to them to prevent incidents, such as suicide, from happening.


Closing remarks

I know I have focussed heavily on mental health issues but the same reasoning can be applied to other hidden disabilities.

I personally believe that ‘disability’ is around us much more than we think. Whether you choose to self define or not I bet you have a disability or know of somebody who has one.

Finally, during the ‘noughties’ we have seen disability enter the political spectrum in a much more positive light. We need to continue with this as finally the world is slowly beginning to come round to the Social Model way of thinking. I hope that during the next decade, not only should awareness be raised about disability but support structures are put into place and this can only happen with real action. If we are to change society’s perceptions and attitudes about hidden disabilities then greater engagement from both disabled activists and politicians is needed.

Rupy Kaur, Disability Coordinator, Compass Youth

Do you have a story to tell about an issue you care about? Email youthchair@compassonline.org.uk now!