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Managing Funding Cuts Event
Conference 8th June 2011
Managing Funding Cuts and the Impact on Black Young People (Anna Burgess)
On Wednesday, 8th June 2011, MENTER ran an event in Peterborough to think about how to manage high unemployment rates with BME youth alongside current funding cuts. Recent policy change will have an impact on all young people in England and Wales, and research shows that it will have a disproportionate impact on BME young people. In January 2010 the Institute for Public Policy Research reported: âBlack or Black British people aged 16 to 24 years old have the highest rates of unemployment at over 48%, an increase of nearly 12.8% since the start of the recessionâ. In January 2009, the BBC stated that the UK entered a recession for the first time since 1991, and recovered in January 2010. This month, the Telegraph say Britain's economy will take until 2012 to get back to where it was before the financial crisis. We know the total number of adults under 25 who are out of work moved close to the 1 million in January this year. MENTERâs Anna Burgess, the main organiser of the event, queries whether this means that there has been another 12.8% increase of unemployment among Black or Black British people aged 16 to 24 years old. The percentage therefore potentially stands at a worrying 61%.
Thirty seven people attended the event in Peterborough, having travelled from as far away as Brighton. This was a regional event that brought together people from across the nation, reflecting the growing need to better address BME young peopleâs needs. BBC broadcaster David Akinsanya, PREC director Mahebub Ladha, Adam Williams from the National Youth Agency and MENTERâs Anna Burgess opened the day exploring the context. The call for race equality was clear in morning and afternoon workshops like Unheard Voices and Diversity in Apprenticeships. BME youth unemployment is one result of an experience BME youth face and it is essential to listen to experience. In Unheard Voices Craig Pinkney brought real life stories from Black young people. The first time one young person had left his area of residence was when he went to prison. Craig made clear points about the need for detached youth work, backed up by real life experience. One young person said âyou have to interact with usâ. Craig emphasised Black young people are not hard to reach. They are âdifferent to reachâ and encouraged those working with young people to leave comfort zones and enter contact zones. This point was echoed in the Diversity in Apprenticeships workshop run by Liesbeth ten Ham. Delegates felt apprenticeships needed better publicity and consistency in the access routes to apprenticeships. It was felt careers advice lacked good guidance on apprenticeships and needed to improve contact with BME communities. The same issue came up about apprenticeships âbeing a different routeâ, not fitting apprenticeship misconceptions, and therefore advice and guidance given to BME youth about apprenticeships in particular needs to improve.
The experiences had resonance with the conference attendees. For example âit got put on usâ was similar to an experience Muslim young people had been through when the EDL went on tour last year. The media put terrorism onto Muslim youth by adding fuel to a public reaction from citizens who do not know or understand their local Muslim community. People in these circumstances hearing terrorism reports from the media may then build their views of Muslims around a media portrayal. The ensuing treatment Muslim youth get subjected to as a result, like name calling or being asked to shave their beard to get a job, is racism. During the final panel Question Time with David Akinsanya, Zain Awan made a passionate address and I quote âI can see clearly on the EDL event list on facebook youâve got White indigenous peopleâ and âthey were at that march, they were exposed to radical views, where is the preventing violent extremism in the White indigenous community?â The issue here is tackling Muslim extremism with preventing violent extremism policy is provocative when equally extremist groups like the EDL are not tackled in the same way.
The day made many suggestions for ways forward but the main points to highlight are about listening, reaching out to unengaged youth, sharing learning and involving BME young people in decisions. This is particularly relevant to funding cuts to young peopleâs services and at MENTER we wish to emphasise the need to talk to BME young people. MENTER make a call for action to:
Tackle disproportionate impact of public sector funding cuts on the most vulnerable
Support and advocate for young peopleâs access to skills and education that create a good platform for employability
Engage, mentor and support Black and minority ethnic young people to tackle race inequalities and to access new skills
There will be a conference report available from Anna Burgess on firstname.lastname@example.org . Power-point presentations are available for downloading below.
MENTER gives a special thanks to David Akinsanya, Mahebub Ladha, Adam Williams, Zain Awan, Carlton Howson, Craig Pinkney, Jabeen Shafee, Yasmeen Maqbool, Ed Murphy, Justine Henderson and Ruth Barnett.
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