Engaging young people in the future of our city
Bradford is the 4th largest metropolitan district in England and Wales. The Office for National Statistics estimated in mid-2009 that there were 506,800 people living in the area, with this figure steadily rising year on year. Where Bradford differs from other regions is the significantly higher proportion of young people under the age of 16 - 22.6% of the population as compared to the national average of 18.7%.
The challenge facing Bradford is finding ways to ensure that our young people grow up in a city that offers them genuine opportunities for education and employment and where their skills, talents and energy are harnessed and nurtured.
There are lots of reasons to do this beyond simply the moral obligations we have as a society. These young people are the next generation of Bradfordians who in the decades to come will be leading the city through new endeavours and it is important that they grow up feeling the same pride in their heritage that is manifesting itself now all across the city. Businesses and projects like Malik House, The Gumption Centre, The Plaza Cinema and Hand Made in Bradford have all sprung out of local pride. Talented individuals with a genuine love for Bradford and are now encouraging investment and enterprise throughout the city and the forward momentum is growing. Many of the people behind these projects at all levels are individuals who were born here, grew up here and chose to stay to take advantage of the opportunities the city offers.
There are many recent examples of new high quality infastructure being built to offer better opportunities for our young people. Bradford College is undergoing a major expansion and modernisation program and has recently announced links with an established Bollywood institute in Mumbai. Culture Fusion opened its doors last year and has a wealth of provision for young people including the co-location of many youth-focused services provided by the NHS, Bradford Council, City of Bradford YMCA and others.
Places like these have made engagement with young people easier and more effective whilst achieving considerable success in promoting youth enterprise. At Bradford One we have made activity that is complementary to existing provision promoting creative and entrepeneurial opportunity for young people a top priority from the very beginning.
We are working on projects alongside our main feasibility planning that actively encourage the participation of young people. By exploring working relationships alongside education providers such as the Bradford College business studies department, Carlton Bolling college and centres such as Culture Fusion we hope to harness the huge talent that our young people have and inspire them to remain in the city post-education to start and expand their careers into adult life.
This is a really important task for the city as a whole. If we don’t provide meaningful opportunities for our young people and offer them the right support to develop then we risk losing the most talented individuals to other areas and produce social problems that will get worse as time goes by. Our vision for Bradford One is a project that all people, irrespective of age, gender or background can get involved in and feel a genuine ownership of. The co-operative model that we have formed around is one which encourages active participation and mutual support and will highlight how our community can work together towards a common aim. We will also be working with organisations such as Fabric who are making “meanwhile” uses of empty shops in the city centre and looking to encourage other projects that focus on tackling youth unemployment in a sustainable manner and provide entrepeneurial opportunities.
Bradford One is about more than just the former Odeon building. We hope to make a viable case for restoration that will be seen a flagship project across the UK and in doing so we will focus attention on the best that Bradford has to offer. In particular, what we as Bradford One would most like to draw attention to are the most prized assets of our city: our young people, their creativity and their talent.
December 1, 2012 Blog