National youth conference brings housing associations and community groups together
On Tuesday 17 April, Clarion Futures and LiveWest hosted the first national youth conference of its kind, bringing together community and charity groups focused on youth provision, with representatives from across the housing sector.
With more than 100 delegates from 40 different organisations, the ambition of the conference is to build a diverse network of organisations, all committed to improving services and raising aspirations for young people living in social housing. The conference has been generously funded by Rixonway Kitchens, a contractor to Clarion Housing Group.
In particular, the focus of the conference was on three themes:
• How housing associations can develop an inspiring youth offer that creates space for all young people to grow, develop, experiment and learn
• The importance of challenging and changing the negative language too often used in reference to young people in society, so we start more often by emphasising the positives
• The potential for housing associations, community groups and charities to collaborate to attract external funding for and deliver youth projects.
The drive for greater cross-sector collaboration is exemplified by the Housing Association Youth Network (HAYN). The network includes fifteen housing associations and will be using finance from the Big Lottery Fund to significantly expand Community Ambassador Programmes across the country (CAP). The CAP model gives social housing residents aged between 11-16 the opportunity to learn new skills and to deliver social action projects in their local area.
Keynote speeches at the conference were made by Laura-Jane Rawlings, the Chief Executive of Youth Employment UK (YEUK) and Anisa Haghdadi, CEO of Beatfreeks. YEUK is dedicated to improving employment opportunities for 16-24 year-olds, while Beatfreeks is a charity working with young people to use creativity for the common good.
Phil Miles, Director of Clarion Futures commented: “Clarion Futures is committed to making a positive difference to the lives of 15,000 young people every year and we’ll only be able to realise this by working in partnership with like-minded housing associations, charities and community groups. It’s inspiring to be able to bring so many diverse groups together and reflects the shared passion we have for supporting young people in our communities.”
Kathy Gilmore, Executive Director of housing support from LiveWest commented: “LiveWest is proud to offer young people the opportunity to develop their skills and achieve their aspirations. We work from the basis that young people are our future – both as residents and staff and we have worked with them to develop a youth offer that young people will want to be a part of and will be available to those in our communities as well as our young people accommodation.”