UEL hosts first Newham Youth Independent Advisory Group meeting
Problems faced by young people addressed at ground-breaking meeting in Stratford
The first ever meeting of the Newham Youth Independent Advisory Group took place this week at the University of East London (UEL).
Youth workers, police officers, counsellors and other experts, along with more than a hundred young people, joined the newly elected Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, for a two-hour forum to address the many challenges facing the borough’s young people.
The advisory group was invited to stage the event in UEL’s University Square Stratford building by the University’s Chair of Governors, Geoff Thompson MBE, after the UEL hosted a successful youth-led forum on crime and safety in January.
The event was organised by youth activist Arfa Butt (pictured second from right) and introduced by Professor Abdalla, Pro-Vice Chancellor Dean of UEL’s College of Arts, Technology and Innovation (pictured right). Expert panellists included Ms Fiaz (pictured centre), police officers, youth workers and experts in mental health. Julia Davidson, (pictured second from left) who will be joining UEL as a Professor of Criminology in July and is a leading expert on cyber bullying and exploitation, also took part in the discussions.
Among the issues debated on the night was the police’s use of Stop and Search, school exclusions, cyber-bullying and the mental health services available to young people in the borough.
Ms Fiaz, who made improving the lives of young people a key pillar of her mayoral election campaign, told the meeting she planned to deliver on her promises.
She said, “The starting point for me is that young people’s voices are going to be at the centre of what we do. We’re going to be doing a 360-degree, deep-dive review of our current youth service offer and there are no no-go zones.
“While I appreciate all the great work that’s been done to date, I am concerned that there are some important areas where some people are slipping through the gaps. I’m not getting a sense that young people’s voices are being heard sufficiently and I don’t understand why they are not continuously around the table.”
Mr Thompson was unable to attend the meeting in person but said: “It was an honour to host the first ever meeting of this important youth forum and to welcome more than a hundred young people and such a distinguished panel of experts to our university.