In the wake of the disturbances across some cities in England during early August 2011, children and young people in Croydon wanted space and support to share their thoughts and feelings and ideas for the future. The Chief Executive of Croydon Council, John Rouse, similarly wanted the authority to explore the implications of what had happened with those affected and to draw out understanding to inform wider strategy, including the reconfiguration of youth services.
A range of conversations were taking place. On 23 August, 52 children and young people took part in a large event to reflect together on what had happened and talk about the way ahead in Croydon. The event was supported by Croydon Youth Service and facilitated by Practical Participation and Associate Young Researchers from De Montfort University. The large event led onto locality based ones, exploring what had been learnt and focusing on the way ahead. This report on key themes contributed to these and to a Cabinet paper to support critical questioning of current strategy and intended provision across the Borough.
What we did
52 young people took part from different parts of Croydon and with links to a number of organisations. Also attending were 10 non council adults accompanying young people, 14council staff accompanying young people, eight council staff helping with the event and the Practical Participation team of six. Those taking part reflected on their lives in Croydon, the causes and consequences of the riots and what would make them proud of living in the Borough. They then heard from Linda Wright, Head of Service – Youth and Social Inclusion, on her understanding and Croydon’s response. Having identified six key issues for focused discussion, the young people explored actions that could be taken by them and others to move forward. These were then gridded by young people on a large matrix, plotting what was easy and what was hard to accomplish and what could be done soon and what later. This detailed understanding of making change happen was taken forward within the Council and its partners and at further locality based events.