Voyage is proud to announce its crowd funding campaign designed to grow young green leaders.

Join the campaign here

 

 

Voyage is delighted to announce our new leadership course Young leaders for Sustainable Cities has been validated and approved by our chosen qualification provider Pearsons.

Voyage has worked hard to secure UKs first Leadership Qualification in Youth Leadership focused on environmental sustainability and tackling climate justice. We devised our leadership course to transform the environmental sector, help our young people access growing employment opportunities and at the same time impact racial diversity in a sector that is only 3% ethnically diverse.

Our leadership course has been inspired through focused youth led research by Voyage graduates and our course content has been co produced by young people with the involvement of amazing sector professionals, climate and sustainability specialists and organisations such as @action for conservation, @greenpeace, @RSBP, @ZSL to name a few. Many of our partners will be contributing to the course so that young people not only learn skills they also will met amazing people and benefit from visits to places of interest and take up active citizenship. We aim to inspire and empower young people to take action in their communities, improve their academic results in school and begin to influence how the sector is promoted and accessed by young people of colour.

Our course will target young people aged 13, 14 and 15 years from African and Caribbean communities and encourage them to gain the skills and experiences that help address unemployment gaps as they transition from school to professional life. We aim to use the course to encourage young people to join our graduate schemes so they can access volunteering, work experience and internships opportunities that have not always been afforded to them. Many of these will be offered by our new found partners in the corporate, charity and private sector in the city of London.

Our course will be available for young people to access from September 2022 and we aim to run the course every two years to ensure we can offer a structured first year graduate programme for the same young people and see them rise.

If you require further information please don’t hesitate to reach out especially if you are a teacher, parents or a young person.

 

 

 

BAME communities VS Mental Health

Hearts Over Minds Series

Written by Laurrice Osei-Afriyie

To begin with I believe mental health is real and affects everyone in different ways. It is usually, to an extent, perceived as an abstract concept to some because of its complexity. But, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. It is important to not veer away from it just because of its complicated nature and negative stigmas.

Within many BAME households (specifically those where you are the child of a first-generation immigrant) mental health is majorly taboo. From a young age, it has been engraved into many of us that either we are being dramatic or if we are ‘sad’ then we should just pray about it. This stigma is quite detrimental and deepens mental wounds as the stats are also not in our favour. For example, ‘Black people are 4 more times likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act’ and ‘Suicidal thoughts among BAME youth increased by 27% under covid lockdown’. This demonstrates the damaging impacts stigma against mental health and then against BAME individuals can have. However, making ourselves aware that we don’t have to suffer in silence is the first step. There are professionals out there willing to listen and help us all.

Some do not realise that what they are feeling is down to ill mental health. Even if we do, many of us don’t know how to comfortably speak out about our troubles because we were never shown that they are valid issues. Some people from ethnic minority backgrounds also have their native cultural and religious values to uphold. They may feel shame or embarrassment talking about how they feel, especially with men in these communities. This leads to barriers to accessing mental health treatment. Alongside the conflict and tension cultivated from within communities, there is the issue of representation preventing BAME patients from accessing care. A fifth of nurses and midwives and a third of doctors are from a BAME background. We all deserve the right to ask for a professional that is from a similar background as you. This step can lead to a more positive experience and people who can understand and relate to the tensions within the given communities making it worthwhile.

BAME people are prone only to seek help at the point of crisis. Now more than ever we have to begin to dismantle the power that stigma holds. Stigma can be the reason why someone will not receive the support and treatment necessary for their recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from mental health problems and struggling, please seek advice from your registered GP or equivalent.

Get involved in the converservation here on LinkedIn

Education during the Tory Culture Wars

Hearts Over Minds Series

Written by Ahmad Faisal Muhibzada

Last Tuesday, I went on a school trip to the City of London for a historical tour into how London became the financial capital of the world. I expected the experience to give me an insightful, nuanced and holistic understanding into how London had amassed such great wealth over the centuries. I ended up leaving the tour feeling slightly misguided. The nasty, morbid and embarrassing history of British colonialism had simply been plastered over and concealed, the guide created a portrayal which appeared to be nothing short of nationalist. 

Whilst touring us around the early coffee houses where English merchants would trade coffee, I found it particularly frustrating how the guide’s lecture lacked any discussion of the exploitation and literal enslavement employed by English colonists. His rhetoric instead appeared to suggest that it was the competitive edge and skill of the English which allowed them to reach such levels of economic domination. How could it be that such a crucial, infectious aspect of European imperialism was left out of the picture? 

 

It appears that polarisation and nationalist rhetoric which has been spearheaded by the Conservative party since the BLM protests has manifested in what many have coined the “Culture War”. Particularly after the toppling of Edward Cullen’s statue in Bristol, many on the right feel as though the progressive left is actively seeking to undermine British identity and national pride. Either by erasing British history or by creating what many would call an overly Machiavellian and ‘anti-British’ portrayal.

In order to prevent this supposed erosion of Britishness in schools, many in the Conservative party have made altering how history is taught of top priority. The Department for Education has issued specific guidance restricting teachers from advocating for Black Lives Matter or contesting the legacies of controversial figures such as Winston Churchill. Instead requesting that teachers “teach the benefits of the British Empire”.

Despite politicians on both sides of the aisle agreeing that racism is a prevalent issue and every effort should be made to stamp it out, the actions of the government continue to undermine any effort made to educate students on British racism in the form of Empire and imperialism. This nationalist agenda will likely manifest until eventually, just like the tour of The City, the true history of imperialism is distorted into one of glory and not atrocity. 

It is essential that we do not allow demagogue politicians to construct farcical culture wars as pretenses to further their own political agendas. Empire, colonialism and its aftermath should be taught in unbiased, factual detail. Exploring how Britain’s wealth was fostered by the exploitation and enslavement of hundreds of millions of people, with similar structures and rhetorics being used to justify racism and xenophobia today.

 

Get involved in the converservation here on LinkedIn

YAB Blog – Child Q

Hearts Over Minds Series

Written by Nenah Hakim-Anderson

Recently, the horrific mistreatment of a young black girl by teachers and police officers was exposed. Despite a lack of tangible evidence, Child Q was suspected of being in possession of Class B drugs as her teachers reported the scent of cannabis from her direction. She was maliciously and unlawfully stripped naked, abused and even forced to remove her sanitary pad. Her story is absolutely heartbreaking, but it is evident that Child Q is not alone. Her story simply evidences the racist and discriminatory treatment young black children have faced for years from institutions supposedly designed to safeguard and protect them.

Child Q was the victim of an egregious failure of her school, who were duty bound to protect her. Rather than safeguard and support a potentially vulnerable young person, her teachers led her to the officers who disgracefully violated her. Child Q was denied fundamental civil rights and safeties, dehumanised and stripped without reasonable grounds, which will undoubtedly have devastating impacts on her mental health and wellbeing for the rest of her life.

The officers, who have unchecked access to children in schools, partook in a despicable act of injustice, which unfortunately is not an anomaly among police cases in London. Time and time again we see young black children subject to adultification bias, causing these children to be wrongfully targeted by authority in ways that would be unheard of to their white counterparts. We see this with the disproportionate targeting of black people, who are 9 times more likely to be stopped and searched than a white person.

Young people at Voyage and within our community constantly notice the poor treatment of teaching staff towards children in Hackney schools, and the lack of safe and secure environments built on mutual trust and respect. There is something to be said about the fact that this incident occurred within the walls of a London school, where teachers who should have been questioning the grounds on which the search was based, ended up remaining silent and complicit in this clear act of racial bias and extreme misuse of power. No child should be strip searched, let alone a young secondary school student ‘suspected of smelling of cannabis’.

Such an atrocity was only possible due to the structural and institutional racism and sexism which permeates throughout the police force and education system alike. Who are we to put our trust in the very organisations designed to protect us if they are the ones harming our children and abusing their power?

At Voyage, we have a police accountability group, and pride ourselves on consistent and meaningful police interaction. We aim to liaise with senior police officers, who can be held accountable and offer firsthand insights into their organisation. Creating a forum for open discussion and critique, with the possibility of strengthening trust between the police and the communities they have been assigned to safeguard.

Voyage has been working with police and police associations for over 20 years, and evidently these discussions have not made appropriate changes to the treatment of black children in London. Instead of putting funding into an increased police presence, the police must correct their broken relationship with the black community. Unlimited police access to schools has warped the boundaries between safety and criminalisation, when really, funding and efforts should be directed towards education programmes, youth clubs and charities, in order to efficiently serve the needs of black communities.

Voyage has routinely been denied access to schools, where we are there to recruit young people to join an organisation based on empowerment, self confidence and knowledge, whilst police are given a free pass inside institutions, often where their presence actually contributes to feelings of unease rather than safety.

Ultimately, we understand that the role of the police (in principle) is to serve and protect communities, and prevent crime in areas, and the message here is not that we should not have a police force. However, what has been made clear over the years is that drastic structural changes are required. This starts with the inclusion of respected individuals who are likely to be well received by communities, and rigorous police training to encourage emphatic, skilled and well educated officers who can conduct themselves accordingly and fairly.

Whilst racial bias is unfortunately inherent within white communities, it is important to ensure that teachers, police officers and others employed to work with people in predominantly ethnic minority communities are sensitive towards the issues they face.

It is necessary to employ public servants who understand their environments and properly and positively engage in the communities that they work in. In many Hackney schools, the teachers working there are white British women, often who are first-time educators. When teachers in an institution do not reflect the demographic that they teach, or have extensive knowledge of their communities, we risk very severe consequences. Students are quickly written-off as ‘misbehaved’ and are cast aside by teachers, either through exclusion or mistreatment.

For many years Voyage and many others have witnessed, written about and developed projects on the mistreatment and abuse faced by black people from institutions designed to safeguard and protect.

We now believe it is essential that the public, in collaboration with charities, continues to scrutinise, engage and hold the police, schools, and the government accountable. We must continue to protest and scrutinize in order to eradicate the possibility of young children, such as Child Q, being treated so horrifically by racist institutions.

Next steps and ways forward

Our Young Leaders have developed a set of questions they wish to continue to explore with their peers, parents and with professionals, and we hope to share this with you as we learn more.

  1. Do we really want police in schools?
  • Does the proximity allows abuse to take place?
  • Does this proximity need to have consent from parents and young people?
  • What’s the style of the policing in the school and is it the same in every school?
  • Do schools with greater numbers of Black students have a more militaristic and punitive approach?
  • How do you make sure everyone is treated equally and fairly?
  • How do we ensure policing is fair and consistent and equal?

2. In what ways can teachers and schools be held to account for abusive systems and poor performance on punitive systems and exclusion?

  • Monitoring teachers. In this case, teachers allowed atrocities to take place and gave a mandate to the police officers.

3 What are the lessons for our community?

  • Do we need to encourage more parental governors?
  • Are parental governors the best way to maintain oversight on these issues?
  • How does Ofsted take account of punitive systems?

We are please to share our report on the Round table that was held on Thursday 29th October 2021.

The roundtable VOYAGE Youth organised on the 28th of October 2021 brought together over 30 environmental charities and businesses to present and discuss the key challenges and issues to diversifying the environment sector, with special regards to young black people. We split the roundtable into two breakout rooms: in one we presented and discussed key elements of our Young Leaders for Sustainable Cities course; in the other young people shared their perceptions and barriers to the green movement and careers.
State of the sector

Globally, the West has alienated black people from environmental organisations by putting blame on countries in the South, without looking at the colonial past. Power, privilege and colonisation still have a knock on effect today and countries with a colonial past suffer from a lack of resources and infrastructure and struggle to adapt to climate change.

  • The sector has a eurocentric view on the world.
  • Environmental organisations do not know the right recruitment circles for employing black people.
  • Unpaid internships and work experience are a barrier to getting into the sector.

Changing the Culture

  • Protesting as a form of environmental action and campaigning and getting arrested is not a suitable form of action, because of the distrustful relation with the police.
  • Communication and story-telling will empower young people to share their story and will be examples for other black people to join the movement. This should not only be used in relation to race and discrimination to avoid tokenism.
  • The Young Leaders for Sustainability Cities course will have a strong focus on empowering young people through active learning. The course should also include economics as this drives the destruction of the environment and is about power and who is in charge.
  • A lack of support for black people in predominantly white organisations makes young black people feel inadequate and not welcome. A barrier is having to adapt to the culture of the organisation, rather than feeling welcome in a shared space.
  • For young black people to be able to speak out, space and opportunities need to be created to do so.

Increasing Diverse Access

Good representation in the industry will inspire and draw young black people into the movement. Uplift black voices from the environment and climate movement that are already there, but are not represented in mainstream media. This is also one of the aims of the course.

  • Create employability schemes, paid work experience and scholarships specifically for young black people.
  • Training for organisations is needed to bring in and to retain people of colour.
  • Actively seek out young people of colour by collaborating with organisations such as VOYAGE Youth that have access to the community as well as expertise.
  • Tapping into black networks of young and aspiring black professionals, such as University African and Caribbean Societies and Black Geographers will help to recruit people into the sector.

If there is one thing we can conclude from this roundtable, it is that diversifying the green sector is a challenging process that requires continuous input from and dialogue between environmental charities, businesses and the black community. Diversifying the sector will provide both young black people and the green sector with opportunities to make a difference. At VOYAGE we aim to support this process in any way we can to effectively bring young people of colour into green jobs, spaces and action.

Thank you to all participants. We honour everyone’s interest, enthusiasm and input and we welcome your ongoing input and participation. To continue the dialogue, please complete and share our survey within and outside of your organisation.

 

VOYAGE is delighted to announce our upcoming Roundtable for environmental organisations, Diversifying the Environment Sector, where we will be discussing key challenges and solutions to increasing the access of green jobs to young BAME people in the UK. 

 

It’s a crucial time to be thinking collaboratively about racial diversity in the second least diverse sector in the UK (only 3.1% diverse) with black unemployment rates at an all-time high since the Brixton riots and yet green economy booming and a huge expected demand for skilled workers in the lead up to the UKs Net Zero emissions target in 2050. 

 

Our discussions will begin as a whole cohort on the overarching theme ‘Diversifying the Environment Sector’ which will cover access, retention and progression and will be Chaired by Rashid Nix, Green Party’s Equality and Diversity National Coordinator.

 

Rashid Nix, Green Party’s Equality and Diversity National Coordinator.

 

This will be followed by a short discussion on the future of green jobs and the government’s £12billion investment into this to reach net zero by 2050. We will subsequently follow up with a survey on job creation plans to reach these targets and benefit from the green economy with environmental organisations attending. 

 

You will then enter the following breakout rooms; 

 

  • Young Leaders for Sustainable Cities: Led by Wendy Maples, an established environmental course writer and Green Councilor for Lewes and Layla Bahrami the Special Projects Manager overseeing the development of the course. Here we will review aspects of our new and bespoke course with our course writers Wendy Maples and Margo Tulkens for input on the strength, relatability to young black people and its environmental scope.
  • Young People: Led by Lamin Tarawally, our Youth Advisory Board chair who will discuss how young people can help improve inclusion and diversity in green industries and young people will share their views!

 

Questions will be asked throughout for both discussion and through the use of Survey Monkey. We kindly ask that all participants put their name, organisation and occupation as their zoom name when joining the meeting. 

Beyond this roundtable we are looking to collaborate with organisations in order to support the delivery of our new Young Leaders for Sustainable Cities course, our graduates scheme (through work experience and placements) and our Youth Investigators Network.

Roundtable date and time: 5pm on Thursday 28th October on Zoom.

To register your interest in attending or further questions please email layla@voyageyouth.com. We strongly encourage environmental organisations to attend, especially CEOs, EDI officers or those heavily involved in increasing diversity within their environmental organisation.

Voyage is a charity that empowers and enables young black people through a range of educational and leadership courses, specialist and peer mentoring, developmental and skills building opportunities and work experience. It is both youth and BAME led and has a strong and growing track record of effective and recognised impact.

We are looking for new tutors to help us deliver our ambitious and new course called Young Leaders for Sustainable Cities and its follow up graduate programme starting in March/ April 2022. Our course is currently being validated by Pearsons and will be primarily delivered to year 9s and 10s from North East London schools. Young people are recruited directly from our partnership schools who introduce us to cohorts via assembly presentations. We are currently seeking to train up a new team of youth and community workers who will help us deliver our ambitious agenda combining important discourse on conservation, nature and climate justice alongside empowerment, leadership and how to stay safe. We will be committing all potential tutors to join us through a structured programme of training, engagement, micro teaching before youth workers are allocated pay scales and days of work. We have a unique programme of work that requires us to support YP over a three journey which requires our workers and tutors to be part of an ongoing programme of development and training so their skills can be synthesised alongside our curriculums, mentoring and our approach to safeguarding.

To achieve this we seek individuals from diverse communities with passion for supporting young black people and process a willingness to see them rise as leaders, connect them to their communities and help them to navigate the usual hazards growing up in London. We place incredible value on those who can use their unique lived experience to connect with our young people and effect change in them. We also recognise and value experience over qualifications and we aim to nurture our pool of tutors through an emerging and thriving Youth worker, Tutor and mentoring Network which will include access to training and developmental opportunities.

The training we aim to run will start in min January and we aim to include new tutors in our community engagement programme designed to test skills and help Voyage determine scale and salary payment.

We are preparing tutors to deliver our new course starting in March/ April 2022 will run for 12 weeks each year across 10 Saturdays and will involve both team and solo teaching. In terms of development and progression, tutors will take part in training and shadowing other tutors at the beginning of the course and will go on to either teach in teams or solo once they complete training in the later part of the course. Once tutors have completed their training and the first round of teaching, we will continue to develop and support them with training and engagement opportunities as the young people rise as our graduates.

Key info:

  • Application deadline: 13th December 2021 at 12noon
  • All our engagement with young people occurs over the weekends, evenings, or school holiday periods
  • All candidates that make the final cohort will be required to have an Enhanced DBS and those who are successful through our onboarding and training process will have their pay evaluated using the JNC scale (https://www.nya.org.uk/youth-work/jnc/).

Please send your CV, clearly state your hours and days of availability and provide 500 words max on ‘Why you should be a VOYAGE Youth tutor’ to admin@voyageyouth.com

Be sure to include:

  • Any relevant experience with young people (including any safeguarding training)
  • Any qualifications or experience relating to the environment
  • Your unique lived experience that will help you connect to and empower young people

Dear friend, colleague and young leader,

We’re excited to announce that Voyage’s Youth Advisory Board has developed a youth led enquiry project which will be reviewing and planning to hold to account 6 key industries (health, education, environment, police, heritage/ culture and corporates) who are embracing new plans to be more inclusive and diverse. We understand many of these agencies and businesses appear to be motivated by the impact of the pandemic and inspired by the death of George Floyd. Many have chosen to increase their commitments to inclusion and diversity in a new drive to reduce and remove the pernicous spectre racism in the work place. Because of this we feel this is a special moment in time were we detect a growing receptivity to the voices and lived experiences of young people of colour. Whilst this is timely and most welcomed we believe our young people have the answers to how this can be done to achieve the change they wish to see as they become employable.

Our new Youth Investigator Network (YIN) will work alongside our partners to investigate best and bad practice models and use this knowledge to promote good work and use this to encourage the much needed change in sectors seldom accessed by people of colour. We aim to announce key findings each year at Black History Month and use the event to encourage more partners to join us.

So if you wish to join make sure you sign up below as all young people involved will access

  • valuable work experience and a reference
  • training to boost key investigatory and presentation skills
  • presentation and public speaking opportunities
  • visits to places of interest
  • refreshments, meals and travel expenses

The project will involve 30 young people each year who will form our core Youth Investigator Network (YIN) and be tasked with investigating and presenting their initial lines of enquiry at a fundraising event we are developing for Black History Month in 2021.

All the young people will be trained to act in key leadership roles to ensure the event runs smoothly, reaches its target audience and engages case study partners. The event will be promoted as a youth led enquiry by young people and we aim to use the initial and informed research questions and begin active lines of follow up and enquiry as a next stage.

We aim to use their findings to target more partner companies and encourage them to engage young people as they;

  • hold them to account on what their policies say
  • problem solve recruitment, retention and progression strategies
  • widen access and ongoing participation

Furthermore, we believe our young peoples contribution will give shape to an annualised programme of youth voice work that will encourage more young people to join us and help them develop amazing profiles making them highly skilled and employable.

If you want to find out more contact the office at admin@voyageyouth.com.

If you are a young person interested in committing to this Youth Investigator Network, the project will require 12hours of commitment per month.

 

 

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