From Blueprint to Reality

Back in January of 2020, a group of us were called upon by Ruth Ibegbuna, with very little context as to why, to meet in a Manchester city centre office space at 1pm on a Saturday. We sat and scribbled on a whiteboard what we would have wanted school to look like, and what young people now would want. We ourselves were still young people, and we weren’t too far from the ages of the people we were trying to support. The meeting was creatively chaotic, brilliant and refreshing. Fire alarms went off, the working space had to change halfway through, but ideas still bounced and we managed to end the meeting at 5pm, confident we knew what young people needed and that we had the blueprint for ‘the school you wish you’d attended’.  

Fast forward to now, in a post covid world with 3 lockdowns, 3 prime ministers and 3 new iphone releases under our belt I can confidently say we didn’t know what the young people of today needed. As our plan came to life and developed so did our understanding of our own disconnect from the young people we so wanted to support. Although not much older, the issues that dictated our youth were different, and the issues young people now face seem to have adapted to mirror the crazy world that we reside in. 

We have had to move fast, even during WW2 children still attended school and we are only now dealing with the repercussions of a whole generation missing out on a year of schooling. Aside from not being able to be in a learning environment the gap in their social interactions was huge. The effects are unknown, and the damage to young people’s mental health is something we have to see unfold as time goes on- there is no research to show how this will pan out. 

As a young person it is hard to engage when you are no longer used to extra provisional support being available to you. Every single person who attended the original pioneer meeting in 2020 was able to attend some sort of youth organisation, be it a youth club or a youth program. We know this hasn’t been the case for younger generations and we were the last cohort of individuals who had access to this type of support and it was vital for us. 

In the early days of social media, during my high school years, I found myself as much of a novice as my peers, all of us clumsily exploring its complexities. Unlike today’s children, who have grown up immersed in social media, we were navigating uncharted waters, unaware of the potential dangers and harm it could inflict. Now, as adults, it’s imperative that we look to the younger generation for insights on how to steer the course of social media toward a future that prioritises safety and well-being for all users. We have had to educate ourselves in the world of social media, how it is now being used, and how much of a role it plays in young people’s relationships and socialisation.

In our ongoing journey of adaptation to the rapidly changing world, we’ve recognised and grasped the significance of embracing continuous learning and growth. Our young people, who are brimming with energy and enthusiasm, remain a beacon of inspiration and hope for us all even amidst the daunting challenges of the modern world.  Regardless of age, the world can often seem intimidating, but we’ve come to realise that creating a supportive environment for youth to thrive is essential. It’s about ensuring young people have a space where they can confidently navigate through the complexities of life, all while enlightening us older folk with their fresh perspectives and unique experiences.

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By making a donation to Rekindle, you’ll be supporting the young people who attend the supplementary school.