Monday, 22 June 2015

The Football World Cup, I'm not going to launch into a discussion about bribes ...and the whole FIFA scandal...don't get me started on that one...

The Football World Cup is going on right now. Did you know? It's in Canada. England are through to the last sixteen and are playing Norway at 9pm tonight (22nd June). You can watch it on BBC3. In case you have no idea what I am going on about, it's the Women's World Cup. I'm very glad that England's matches are being shown on mainstream TV, a big improvement over a few years ago.

So, why do I think it relevant to mention this in a blog about young people? The benefits of sport on mental health, physical health, resilience, etc, etc, are too well documented for me to go into here. It still goes to show the difference in role models offered up by society to young women  and young men.  So, it's very important that young woman are exposed to the right role models to consider that sport is for "people like them".

I hope that you will be encouraging the young people, especially young women, in your life to watch the football and be inspired by it.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Equality and inequality

A week of sharp contrasts. Last Thursday I went to a highly informative and thought provoking seminar on child poverty organised by Surrey County Council and The Walton Charity. The two speakers were Professor Tess Ridge from the University of Bath and Helen Caldwell, the Strategic Development office from North Somerset Council, who between them have extensive experience of understanding and overcoming child poverty.

Some of the points that stood out for me:
- Living in poverty touches so many aspects of a child's life experience as they grow up.
- Children as young as six living in poverty will try to protect their parents by not bringing notes home from school that ask for money for, say, school trips.
- Low income homes are often doubly hit because the work that they do get is highly erratic, unstable and hence their already low incomes vary from one week to the next, creating a lot of uncertainty for the child.
- Participation of poor children in after school informal learning is key to giving them better life chances.

At the other end of the financial spectrum, on Monday I was highly privileged to be invited to attend the celebrations of the Magna Carta at Runnymede in the presence of the Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Duke of Cambridge, David Cameron, the Attorney General of the United States, and MPs. It was a lovely event with lots of young people from schools around Surrey participating in musical and ceremonial activities. It was a great opportunity to reflect on how most of us are lucky to live in one of the safest and most affluent countries in the world. Reflecting on the actions of those barons 800 years ago, I particularly liked the closing words by David Cameron: "What we do today will shape the world for many, many years to come."

What we need to be doing today is working together to ensure that young people growing up in poverty here in Surrey (yes, there 23,000 of them in Surrey) have the same opportunities and life chances as the rest of us.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Good surprises and impressive young people

No blog last week – I was on holiday with my family in the Lake District. My children frequently surprise me. Mostly with good things, sometimes not so good. Last week in the very good category, our four year old walked and scrambled up Blencathra,  the 16th tallest mountain in England. We expected lots of complaints, but got none, she was enthusiastic all the way. Our ten year old did complain, but only that we weren’t going fast enough nor letting him go on some of the interesting (i.e. dangerous) routes. I’m sure that I would have given my parents a lot more grief about being asked to walk up a mountain at that age.

Enough about my own kids, onto other young people who also impressed me. Just before I went on leave, I visited the Surrey Heath Youth Forum and saw for myself why they won the Group Volunteering Superstar at the Surrey Young Superstars awards. What a fantastic group of young people. I really enjoyed hearing their ideas and enthusiasm for how they can make a difference. They are currently running an anti-bullying campaign and are starting to plan some work on substance abuse. I look forward to hearing how they get on. You may have heard the term “Youth Social Action” from myself or others – this was definitely it. For groups wanting to run Youth Social Action, I can highly recommend learning from this group.