It’s safe to say our focus group at Brixton Impact Hub on Thursday 5th of May was a complete success and has invigorated everyone further to ensure this is just the start of genuine change and innovation. We were able to meet and engage with 20 black youths, aged 18-30 years, to uncover some of their barriers to finding employment.
Plus, the cultural interface we provided allowed for some hard discussions around some of the challenges experienced by the group regarding loneliness and isolation, especially over the last two years.
The young people highlighted a dearth of opportunities, compounded by not being treated fairly in the workplace as youngsters. For instance, they mentioned that rather than be given time to develop, shadow and be supported in the workplace, they were given menial and laborious tasks which older staff did not want to do.
Even while seeking jobs, the young people found they were at a disadvantage. The employment market takes advantage of young people, giving them numerous and tedious responsibilities for low pay. This inevitably leads to resentment, frustration and isolation.
Black females in particular felt isolated, expressing the feeling of being "trapped at home". Avenues for counselling were also difficult to access, while even simple interventions, such as talking therapies, were not on offer for low-income communities.
Following the conversations we had on Thursday, it’s uplifting that Paul Addae and myself are still having conversions with some of the participants. We must give a massive shout out to Dr Dianne, Amanda and Eche for allowing Centric to demonstrate its potential across South London conurbations.
Big thanks also to the Brixton Impact Hub for being great hosts and my team for their work in progressing the Cen Ethics work, which will focus on sustainability, climate, employment etc. It forms part of the Centric ecology and will be youth-led so, it’s vital to connect with young people, the very group we aim to help.
It is imperative to listen to these younger voices and develop this focus group into a co-designed intervention, thereby ensuring a logical continuum where they are involved at each stage. Only then will there be true engagement, where young people are comfortable to reveal the amazing insights about how they see the future, as they did during our focus group.
All this at a time when there is distrust towards the system and cynicism about asking questions. In the post-pandemic landscape, it’s vital we future-proof our operations and this means including seldom heard voices from the younger generations and letting them take the lead.
We will be arranging another focus group, along with our partners TSIP, Guy’s and St. Thomas' and the NHS. We also have the roundtable coming up, all fitting into our work with the integrated care systems (ICSs) regarding the future workforce and what this means for those who do not engage.
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