March 3, 2022. News

Thames Valley to host first in national series of “Hope Hack” youth voice events

On Friday 4 March 2022, the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit and local partners are proud to be hosting the first in a series of national youth engagement workshops which will involve young people in finding solutions to a fairer society and safer communities.

Held at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, 80 young people aged 16 to 19 and from a range of backgrounds will attend from schools, colleges and youth work organisations from across the Thames Valley region.

Young facilitators will support discussions on the day focused upon the key issue: How can we make a fairer and safer society for all?

The event will be opened by Paul Canoville, former Reading Football Club player who was the first black player for Chelsea Football Club. He himself has overcome racism and adversity and is now an ambassador championing the potential of young people.

Paul Canoville believes sister's voice saved his life as he battled through coma | The Independent
Paul Canoville – former Chelsea FC player who will open the conference

The event will be the first of a series of 22 individual “Hope Hack” events which will be held across England and Wales seeking the widest input from young people. The events will feed back to the Prime Minister’s policy unit at No 10 and to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.

The events are being coordinated by VRU in partnership with the Hope Collective, a grass-roots organisation which was formed in partnership with the Damilola Taylor Trust and a wide range of other public and voluntary bodies.

Shortly before he was murdered in 2006 aged just ten years old, Damilola said his ambition was to change the world.  In 2020,The Hope Collective was established to help keep that legacy alive and to inspire hope in new generations of young people, giving them opportunities to have a voice in how to make society fairer and safer.

The Hope Collective held their first youth voice workshops last year. Five events across England and Wales brought together hundreds of young people, giving them a platform to discuss the issues and inequalities that they face growing up today and what they wanted to see changed for their futures.

The findings from these events were presented to the Prime Minister and policy teams at a Downing Street reception in November.  Last week, those findings were published in the report Changing the Conversation. The challenge to the Hope Collective was to go further and run more events.

Young people in a previous workshop

Stan Gilmour, Director of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“I have been closely involved with the Hope Collective since its establishment in 2020 and I share their commitment to giving young people a voice in how we can improve our society.

“We are proud to be hosting the first of what will be a major national programme of youth voice workshops. We aim to hold an inspiring event which will give young people hope for the future.  We want to hear about the challenges they face and how we can respond to tackle those inequalities and create opportunities.

“This event is the first of what we hope will be a programme of youth engagement by the Violence Reduction Unit, with further events and opportunities being planned for other areas later in the year.”

Gary Trowsdale, Managing Director of the Hope Collective, said:

“When our first Youth Ambassadors presented the findings of last year’s events to the Prime Minister in November, we were challenged to do more. We were asked to seek the voice of more young people, to involve more people in more locations.  We have a unique opportunity to have a direct influence on policy and decisions.  

“Our series of events last year were incredibly powerful, showing how valuable it is to give young people a voice and to help identify the solutions to how we make a fairer and safer society.”