Co-op College project helps London youth reshape their community

‘It has been a privilege to see this highly focused and motivated group of young cooperators take ownership of the project’

The Youth Co-operative Action London project, run by the Co-operative College in partnership with London youth group 7PK, has brought a group of young people together to organise a programme of skills-boosting events.

The programme, in Lewisham, is focused on equipping young people with the skills they need to create change in their own lives and their communities.

Running from 28 July to 5 August, the event programme covers a wide range of topics starting with CV writing, youth safety, and money management. The series will proceed with workshops on topics such as effective communication, everyday overlooked issues and overcoming peer pressure and will culminate in a careers fair.

YCA London is supported by the Les Stannard Fund – and is an offshoot of the College’s national YCA programme supported by the Co-op Foundation’s #iwill Fund,which is delivered in towns and cities across England.

Each cohort of Youth Co-operative Action is encouraged to think collaboratively to solve problems in their community and understand the real power of their voice. Empowered with the skills, knowledge and platform to tell their story, they work together cooperatively to inspire real, meaningful change.

Through the scheme, all those involved have learnt new skills, met new people and had fun, says the College. Focused on teamwork, problem solving, and community engagement, participants have gained the confidence to tackle the issues that matter to them, such as loneliness, highlighted as a key issue by young people and emphasised using the project’s hashtag #TogetherNotAlone.

In response to the murder of George Floyd last year that sparked an increase in racial awareness worldwide, the College made a number of pledges to increase racial awareness and tackle this issue, one of which being an increased commitment to the community.

This particular cohort of YCA has been born of this pledge, and as such is run in in Lewisham, purposefully selected for its large black African and Caribbean community and high social inequality, run in partnership with 7PK, a local, black owned and run organisation, and is made up of a majority of black African and Caribbean young people set to become the co-operators of the future.

Daniel Cox, project manager at the College, said: “It has been a privilege to see this highly focused and motivated group of young cooperators take ownership of the project and run with it like never before. From individual and collective growth, to identifying social needs and developing a renewed engagement in their local community, this cohort has been inspirational in their commitment and passion for collaborative, co-operative social action.”

Louis Howell, founder and director of social enterprise at 7PK, said: “To think that in just a few months, a group of young people who did not know one another, admitted to never seeing themselves as leaders and never felt connected to community in their local area are working together so effortlessly and now taking it upon themselves to create vital opportunities for their peers is mindblowing.

“Credit to the College for opening this door that has allowed these young people to not only develop personally, but also develop critical skills, experiences and relationships that will benefit them in their lives and careers whilst
helping them transform society.”