In March 2020, the third cohort of young grant makers started working together, and they have now released their open call for applications. In this guest blog, two young grant makers, Poppy and Freya, talk to us about who they are, how the group has been working together during lockdown and why they wrote this call at this particular moment in time.
The Young Grant Makers are now inviting calls for applications that are looking to support young people in a safe and supportive space where they can talk and be themselves. These projects will focus on creating a sense of community.
Who are the Young Grant-Makers?
As Young Grant Makers we come together with ideas about what could improve about Islington. As young people living in the borough we tend to see things that might not be picked up on by older people with power and so we are using the voices we are given to change what we think should be changed.
As a Young Grant Maker, I’m someone who wants to make a difference locally now, so that it will have a knock-on effect on a wider group in the future. I’m particularly passionate about mental health, availability of the arts and education. Education is an important foundation for all young peoples’ lives. Everyone should have a good start in life and education should be free, and I believe all students should be given support. Education should not just be about core subjects – we should aim to support peoples’ strengths.
How have the Young Grant Makers been working in 2020?
Since lockdown started, we have been meeting on Zoom weekly as we did before but with shorter sessions to try to make the work we do and the decisions we make as effective as possible. It has been a fun and interesting way to do things but I’d much rather be meeting again in person!
As everyone in the group is polite and respectful, everyone has had a say. Despite any technical difficulties, it’s been great to work online as it’s meant that momentum in the group has not been lost. It’s also lovely to see people every week; especially a group of wonderful people who want to make a difference. I feel it is a comfortable forum and I’m glad that people feel safe to say how they feel in front of others and express their views.
Why did the group write this call?
Young people now tend to feel quite lost and alone, especially during the transition into adulthood where we are expected to just learn to be independent. We know that young people need more support in this area and with the current pandemic the level of support needed has been elevated and so we wanted to make sure people actually have access to this support and to someone to talk to and somewhere to go.
We want to give young people the space and opportunity to be themselves which is something a lot of young people struggle with doing without the fear of being judged. The creation of a community is also therefore vital in ensuring young people have a sense of security and feel as though they have somewhere that they feel they can belong, as many need this but feel as though they do not belong or have somewhere to call a second home.
Young people are interested in a bigger variety of things and need assistance in getting to where they need to be, whether that be the traditional academic route, or a more creative route. As there is a lot more support around the more traditional route we wanted to come up with something that would allow young people to really explore other options, making things easier for them. We as young people are also becoming more and more vocal about our beliefs and so it is important opportunities are given for these conversations to be had where and when they are wanted to be had.
Isolation and uncertainty have definitely shaped why we wrote this call. Many people I know feel incredibly lethargic. This makes people feel guilty as the expectation of productivity is constantly pushed in our society. Mental health has been extremely fragile during this period. People are isolated at home with fears of illness and death, job losses, and everything under the sun over which they have no control. People feel powerless as they are unable to change what’s going on around them.
I feel that people are likely to develop various mental health issues as a result of this peculiar time we are living in. I’m thankful that after not having contact with my therapy centre because of lockdown, my referral for CBT for OCD went through and I’ve been having online sessions. This is helpful as issues are exacerbated during this time. This definitely made me want to push the importance of mental health support that is accessible, and can be accessed by anyone regardless of their financial situation.
Many people are feeling aimless during this time and are bored now the novelty of being away from studying or work has worn off. This has made me more passionate about funding for youth projects and centres that give people a chance to pursue hobbies and gain new skills, or just a safe space to hang out. Where can you go as a young person with no money apart from parks?