Issues of mental health and knife crime were put under the spotlight at the tenth Youth Takeover Challenge as young people shared their views on the borough’s big issues.
Young people met with Hammersmith & Fulham’s decision-makers on Monday (November 25) as Chelsea FC hosted a festival of workshops and activities around mental health, crime and safety, employability and sexual health.
The event at Stamford Bridge attracted approximately 130 young people from schools and colleges across the borough and beyond. With themes based on the H&F Youth Council’s manifesto, the day was a chance for young people to connect with representatives from 62 organisations and services.
Scarlett Knowles, the H&F Youth Mayor who attends Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, said the event was an important opportunity for young people to have a ‘voice about local services’.
“The Youth Takeover Challenge is about hearing what young people want to say and do in our borough, and making life better for everyone,” Scarlett added.
“It has been a really great way to collaborate and see young people getting involved.”
Previous years have seen young people taking over Hammersmith Town Hall, in King Street, which is currently being re-developed to create a new civic campus for the community.
A day of four zones
The Youth Takeover Challenge involved the stadium’s Great Hall divided into four zones, each focused on a different theme including feeling good and emotional wellbeing, staying safe, my body matters, and employability.
Groups including Family Support, the Metropolitan Police, H&F Mind, Bush Theatre, QPR, and Imperial College London were among organisations running workshops and activities for the young people through the day, which was sponsored by youth media platform, First News.
“Youth Takeover Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to hear from young people and give them a voice in the design of services,” said Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
“With so many complex issues it’s important we have honest conversations to try and ensure that young people are included in matters that affect them.”
The day kicked off with an introduction from the youth mayor Scarlett, along with the borough’s Member of Youth Parliament, Ozan Erder.
A thought-provoking performance from Synergy Theatre saw a group of three actors, who have previously been involved in crime, share a story of how emotions can escalate into knife crime.
Hammersmith Academy pupil Marley Billing-Delapenha, 15, added: “My favourite thing about the day was the interactivity of young people from different communities.”
Rahaf Aldawibi, 15, of Hurlingham Academy, said her favourite part of the day was the theatre performance and having chance to ‘learn about the actors and their motivation behind doing the play’.
While Faiza Yusuf, 16, from ARK Burlington Danes Academy, said: “I really enjoyed getting to meet all the different organisations and see how they assist young people in the borough.”
The future is bright
As well as taking part in activities such as ‘cheer pong’ - designed to get young people talking about ways to improve their mental health - workshops also covered technology and employability.
Academics from Imperial College London shared their research on improving energy use in cities, while Chelsea FC Foundation brought a robot football activity to the event.
Young people could learn how to use simple coding to get their robot football sphere to move and light up.
Matt Mead, head of education at Chelsea FC Foundation, explained: “The future will be about developing technology and coding skills, that is the future of our society.
“It is bringing a daunting subject to life through football and play. Hopefully it will have inspired young people to go home and take their education further.”
The day ended with a performance from Shepherds Bush hip hop artist Ox, and a panel discussion featuring representatives from the police, health services and education.
Sarah Anderson-Mohammed, 14, Hammersmith Academy
Sara Nabli, 15, Lady Margaret School
Christion King, 15, Cambridge School
Mohamed Abdikabir, 16, Fulham College Boys’ School
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