Listen to our youth

isaacIsaac Harvey

Councillor Rosa Gomez (Churchfields, Labour) is organising an event in South Woodford for young people to say what they really want. Among the speakers will be inspirational Redbridge hero Isaac Harvey

I’m convinced that young people are getting a raw deal at the moment. Covid meant friends couldn’t meet up for weeks and months on end. Education moved from the classroom to Zoom, presenting all kinds of new challenges. Competition to get the best grades has never been fiercer, yet now that students’ good GCSE and A level results have been announced, they face criticism that standards have fallen. And even with the best results and a degree, they face the prospect of sky-high rents and insecure jobs.

We need to listen more to the hopes, aspirations and fears of our young people. I get the impression they are worried about climate change and the environment, knife crime and gangs, the lack of things to do outside school, and their prospects for meaningful employment in the future. But I would like to get a better idea. I would like to hear it from their own mouths. That’s why I’ve organised an event in September aimed at young people in our local area aged between 13 and 18. Their input will give me a better idea of what to campaign for as a local councillor.

The event will aim to showcase what services are on offer to young people locally and what advice they can access to help them along life’s road. There will be entertainment, stalls and speakers, and I’m really excited that inspirational Redbridge community hero Isaac Harvey will join us.

In April, Isaac was awarded honorary freedom of the borough. He is an award-winning vlogger, producer, poet and supporter of Avril Mills’ Dream Factory charity. Born with a form of limb hypoplasia syndrome, Isaac is president of Wheels and Wheelchairs, a group of London-based skaters, rollerbladers and wheelchair users. He says of the event: “In my short talk, I will touch on topics such as overcoming obstacles and having a good mindset to want to achieve – and know that anything is possible if you put these practices into play. I will also be showing a short video showcasing some of my achievements.”

Singer and guitarist Tom Greenwood will provide musical entertainment, and there will be food and refreshments. Rebecca, Uzma and Angelo from Vocal Communities, a Waltham Forest group that helps provide young people with a voice, will be available to offer advice and provide inspiration. Other speakers include Rayla, a young local lawyer, who will talk about what inspired her to study law, and Stanford Quarrie, a self-defence instructor, who will speak about the value of this skill. It promises to be a great event and I hope to come away from it both inspired and with a clearer idea of the priorities our community needs to strive for to help young people.

The free event will take place at Woodford Memorial Hall, 209 High Road, South Woodford on 18 September, 11am to 3pm. Email rosa.gomez@redbridge.gov.uk

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