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ftwork: My Place

presented at the Mayor of London’s Homes for Londoners conference, October 2019

Training children and young people in community engagement and management, through practical involvement in every stage of estate regeneration.

Andrew: “At 13 I knew about sex, I knew about drugs, I knew about knives, I knew what was right and wrong. I don’t see why I can’t work then”

Ibrahim: “If I was year 8 and I started to get introduced into jobs and I’m already making my own money, I won’t be thinking about selling weed”

ft’work recently made two short documentaries, in which young people voiced opinions on their environment – the first regarding postcode violence and the second the redevelopment of their estate (a process that will continue into their adulthood). Their thoughts and ideas were both enlightening and practical, showing valuable insight about their area. My Place acts in direct response to their comments and, in the process, offers them the means to obtain work experience, training and a small income. But it also has a broader aim – to help address the damaging disconnect between existing communities and the development process. Let young people drive the process of creating well-integrated places that can thrive.

We envisage that My Place might have 3 distinct stages:

as soon as regeneration is proposed, local schoolchildren, aged 13-15, apply or are nominated (via schools or local organisations) to be trained and earn pocket money (like a Saturday job) accessing opinions across all social groups

from 16 additional training prepares them to collaborate in the design and planning stages – on social infrastructure, open space, inclusive design

then from 18, as phases are completed, they can qualify to manage community facilities (whether venues like youth clubs or other aspects of estate management), either on their own estate or elsewhere

Some young people might progress through all three stages, but they could equally engage with just one or two. It’s idealistic perhaps, but imagine the knock-on benefits – the sense of ownership, community buy-in and education value.

ft’work proposes to run a My Place pilot in 2020, to test the assumptions behind the idea:

partnering with a local facilitator and developer, already engaged in a carefully selected regeneration project

recruiting a small group of young people to help define the parameters of the project

recruiting a small number of children and young people to participate in the pilot (also to establish willingness to take part!)

enlisting voluntary support and the professional input required to train and oversee them

Our conversations so far have been informal, but have provoked considerable interest among potential partners. Please do get in touch if you are interested in being involved.

What are your thoughts?