At the end of 2019, together with Reading University and 10 young researchers, we embarked on some extensive research to learn about what it is like to grow up in Reading. The aim of the research was primarily to look at how we, as a collective of statutory and voluntary agencies, can improve the lives of people living in Reading, but we also wanted to amplify the voices of young people on important issues.
Our young researchers had some research training with the UofR and eagerly went off into all corners of the town to consult with their peers on a broad range of topics. The topics included: education, health, community and culture, crime and safety, creativity, freedom and more. Our young team devised a questionnaire (which yielded over 600 responses- amazing!) held several focus groups across the town and undertook a couple of individual case studies (sadly cut short due to lockdown).
You will find the full report here and an abbreviated version of the report here. It is our intention to present the findings to significant organisations later this year (when Govt. guidelines permit us to) and start a conversation around what actions we collectively need to take forward as a result of these findings. Broadly speaking, things that young people want to see improved include: reduced crime and safer streets; more activities for young people and especially safe places for young people to hang out and socialise; stronger, safer bonds between young people and adults in the community- thus a bringing together of people and communities; and better support for young people to help them flourish in terms of mental health and career progression. I think this research speaks loud and clear about how wise and switched on our young generation is.
From an RVA perspective we intend to focus on youth social action with the development of a youth platform whereby young people have a support structure to speak up on matters that they feel need to be addressed. The youth platform will be a place that brings young people together to share and discuss, as well as link them up with those organisations and individuals who need to hear what they are saying. Our hope is that this platform will be a bouncing off point for social action and change. If you are a young person and would like to be part of this work then please contact: email@example.com