It’s official: youth organisations really matter to young people

January 5, 2021

Collage made from images from Exposure and Jack Petchey Foundation

Nicole Colucci reports on how extra-curricular activities make a real difference to young lives

In a recent survey conducted by the Jack Petchey Foundation, over 6,000 young people in London and Essex were asked about their experiences of lockdown and what they wanted to see for young people in the future. Respondents expressed views about a variety of topics including education, employment, social and emotional wellbeing and the importance of youth clubs and extra-curricular opportunities.

Responses to the survey
In the survey, 43% of young people said clubs and extra-curricular activities were important for their wellbeing over the lockdown which is something I can relate to as a member of Exposure. Over the lockdown period, I was able to voice my own experiences and connect with the experiences of others through the organisation which published several pieces of my writing. Writing articles for Exposure on topics including timekeeping, recipes, and nostalgia helped me remain inspired and motivated and allowed me to focus on something positive in my free time.

Exposure’s support over lockdown
Although Exposure’s young people were unable to physically get together, I was able to communicate with the organisation via email and text where I received plenty of support, tips and guidance to assist with my creative work. This was particularly motivating, as after each article was published, I became even more inspired to write another.

Something which I believe is truly special about clubs and extra-curricular activities such as Exposure are the opportunities and skills they offer to young people, which schools often don’t have time to cover.

During my time at the organisation, I have been able to develop my IT and communication skills, time keeping, professionalism and more, which I know will be hugely beneficial moving forward with my future career prospects.

Here are what other young people had to say about the youth organisation:

“Exposure have really boosted my confidence, and have immeasurably improved my writing skills. They’ve always given me plenty of encouragement when writing articles. I can’t thank them enough for the kindness they’ve shown me and the opportunities they’ve given me.” – Arjan

History enthusiast Arjan has been involved with Exposure for two years after taking part in workshops put together by the organisation at his Sixth Form. After writing an article on the Suffragettes to commemorate the 100th anniversary of British women getting the vote, he was amazed to find out a few weeks later that he had won Best Young Journalist Aged 14-18 after Exposure had entered his article into the London Voices Award. Ever since then, Arjan has “written a number of articles for Exposure on different subjects, most recently about the pandemic and how it has affected young people, including [himself].”

“Exposure has helped me express myself during tough times where self-expression is vital.” – Aloki

Aloki has been involved with Exposure for over a year and has contributed some excellent pieces to the organisation over lockdown on topics including exercise and literature.

“Exposure has been a positive way for me to write about topics I’m interested in; it has enabled me to think creatively!” – Aya

During lockdown, Aya believes “Exposure has been a great output to research and write about current issues, such as BLM and the effects lockdown has had on the environment and individuals”. During the pandemic, Aya has written some touching pieces, including a heartfelt poem in response to the murder of George Floyd and articles on discrimination and the impact of lockdown on an individual and environmental scale.

“I’ve been working with Exposure for six years and I am forever grateful for the platform it has provided me with to talk about issues that matter to me and other young people and for the support I get with my creative work and personal development.” – Angela

Angela has been involved in Exposure’s lockdown projects since the beginning of the pandemic. She has covered experiences with anxiety during lockdown and the impact on Italy (where she has family) and the impact of Covid on midwifery and theatre to name a few. She has also delivered a project called ‘Coping with COVID’, funded by ThriveLDN and played a huge role in Exposure’s ‘Learning from Lockdown’ video.

Angela explained, “I’m grateful to have been awarded the Jack Petchey Community Award and Haringey Hero Award for my contributions to Exposure during this time. I am really proud of all the work Exposure has achieved during this difficult time and of my involvement in it. It has provided me with an invaluable opportunity to develop my skills and confidence whilst supporting other young people.”

“Exposure has helped me learn how to write a good article, increase my confidence in sharing awareness, as well as being around other people in a happy environment in the media industry.” – Max

Max is a regular at Exposure and has been involved in the organisation’s projects throughout lockdown. He has written some insightful reviews and short stories about the pandemic, which are accompanied by his own excellent illustrations and images.

“Exposure has not only helped me gain confidence in writing, news researching and editing articles, but in expanding my skills to new sectors and increasing my contacts! Furthermore I have connected with other young journalists, sharing their messages around the world, including from Germany.” – Shakira

Shakira has used Exposure as a platform to celebrate her hometown of Tottenham with its film ‘Memory Lane’ where she gave a speech at the public screening, to promote local performing arts such as Chickenshed and Streetz Ahead and to highlight Disability History Month. She is particularly grateful for the opportunities and ongoing support Exposure has offered her, particularly throughout the pandemic: “During lockdown, when other young people’s services have been shut or can’t continue, Exposure continued online, allowing young people to write about the impact of coronavirus and lockdown on them. I feel Exposure has helped me develop from a shy wannabe writer with lots of ideas, to a fully-fledged young journalist, and I can’t wait to work further with them in the future.”

What can other youth organisations do to help?
As we move beyond the pandemic, young people will depend on support from youth organisations more than ever to connect with others, cope with mental health and recover from the constant interruption caused to their education.

The closing of schools has also meant that young people have been robbed of time to develop their skills and receive support with employability, which is vital moving forward. Through recognising the importance of youth organisations, and encouraging more participation, young people will be able to become more confident and recover opportunities and skills they have lost throughout the pandemic, which will create hope as we move past this difficult time.

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