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YOUNG PEOPLE FEEL THEY'RE EXCLUDED FROM DECISION MAKING AND CHANGES

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Many young people want to take a more active role in their communities - especially when issues of regeneration and...
Many young people want to take a more active role in their communities - especially when issues of regeneration and new resources are being discussed. But, according to research undertaken by De Montfort University's Centre for Social Action, they share common experiences of being excluded from decision making and not being informed about changes to their neighbourhood which would affect them.

And, according to one young person who took part in the nation-wide consultations projects: 'Much more could happen if people listened to our ideas and involved us.'

The centre's new Research Notes briefing paper, entitled 'Young People - a force for positive social change: rethinking young people's involvement in regeneration,' draws together the findings from a number of reports of youth consultations undertaken by the Centre for a variety of commissioners.

In contrast to the usual lack of involvement, three case studies reported in the briefing paper demonstrate what young people have been able to achieve by following a social action process and deciding what they wanted to see happen in their local communities.

For instance, young people in Derbyshire lobbied the Guinness Trust to have their local park refurbished. In Brixton another group developed plans for a community centre, youth club and youth council.

And in Leicester, a group developed ideas for improving their community which were submitted to the New Deal for Braunstone Community Association.

Alison Skinner, from De Montfort University's Centre for Social Action, says: 'These actions can help to change the thinking of service providers.'

A Guinness Trust worker said during the evaluation of the Derbyshire project: 'Personally it has made me think about this group being clients too. I'd never given them much thought in the past - I'd seen them as a potential problem rather than looking at how to address the problems by addressing their needs.

'That will stay with me.'

The centre believes that there should be greater commitment on the part of managers of programmes such as single regeneration budget, housing actions trusts, new deal for community and neighbourhood renewal groups to find ways in which young people can be more productively involved in contributing to the regeneration process.

'The centre's experience over a number of years is that social action provides a tried and tested process for engaging with young people, enabling and supporting them to take a more active role in their communities in their communities in response to regeneration initiatives,' says Alison Skinner.

Notes

* also see LGCnet'POLITICS: PANTS OR PUKKA? MINISTER DISCOVERS WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE THINK OF VOTING'

'Young People - a force for positive social change: rethinking young people's involvement in regeneration' is the latest issue in the Centre for Social Action's Research Notes series. It is available free of charge from: Centre for Social Action, Faculty of Health and Community Studies, De Montfort University, Scraptoft, Leicester LE5 3JB. Telephone: (0116) 257 7777. E-mail: dmucsa@dmu.ac.uk

The Centre for Social Action is a training, consultancy, research and publications unit based in the Faculty of Health and Community Studies, De Montfort University, Leicester, England. It works alongside people in a range of settings with the aim of achieving positive social change through community, project and professional development.

Social action is a five-stage process that enables groups of people of all ages and circumstances to take action to achieve their collectively identified goals. It is shaped and informed by six social action principles which encapsulate a set of beliefs about the unrecognised skills and capacities of people who may be marginalised by decision-makers.

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