A youth perspective on supporting young people in Southwark
At IVAR, we’re exploring different perspectives on power and equity. IVAR is the learning partner for One Southwark – which aims to level the playing field for underrepresented young people in Southwark through collective action. We asked Beverly, a young member of One Southwark, to reflect on her involvement in the programme. She shares her experience of living in Southwark, being part of the programme, and where she would like it to go.
What do you love about Southwark?
Southwark will always and forever be my home. It’s one of London’s most beautiful boroughs and there are endless opportunities to explore. As someone who loves to practice mindfulness and wellbeing, walking around is the easiest form of therapy. It has wonderful greenspaces which help me feel grounded and allow me to reconnect with nature. It’s a melting pot of art and culture – if you have your ear to the ground. I love it because this place has shaped my story, without it I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
What’s difficult about living in Southwark?
The big issues for young people living in Southwark are housing, employment, gentrification, and a lack of opportunities. The rising demand for and cost of housing, along with low wages, mean young people born and raised here cannot afford to stay. It’s heart breaking to see faces disappear from the area because they can’t afford to live in Southwark.
What would you like to change for young people?
I’d like for young people to have access to support that will help them build the knowledge, experience, and confidence to kickstart their adult lives. I’d like to see the local authority, businesses, charities, and individuals create more opportunities in Southwark so young people can find opportunities here, close to home (if that’s what they want).
In recent years there have been huge cuts youth services. Growing up, I had access to a whole range of activities and clubs to increase my cultural and social capital. From arts and crafts to creating pieces for public displays. I visited galleries, expanded my culinary experiences, played tennis, went go-carting and horse riding, and met with politicians. I had mentors who were invested in my future, completed work experience, and got support from community members. All these experiences gave me insight to a world different from my own.
I’d like to see more opportunities like these for young people. And I would like young people to have more of a say in how resources are allocated. Young people have power, and we can mobilise better than ever before – we should occupy decision making spaces in our community and be brave enough to put ourselves forward. And I’d like to see local authorities remove barriers to help young people find their voices and passions, and help us bring about the changes we want to see.
How is One Southwark helping you?
One Southwark gives a small group of young people from Southwark an opportunity to connect as a peer group. It has changed people from faces to friends. I can count on my peers for help, emotional support, build connections and get inspiration for ideas. Being part of a peer group drives us to be better versions of ourselves, pushing us forward.
One Southwark is trying to change the environment for young people beyond this small group – building partnerships and networks which can create more opportunities for young people across Southwark.