They say the simplest things in life are the best and that’s definitely the case with the Hangleton & Knoll Project’s Youth Manifesto. What sounds like such a simple idea is actually relatively unique in the youth services but in its first two years it has been a massive success for the local community. The manifesto was developed in 2013 by a group of young people in Hangleton and Knoll who went out to 300 peers to find out what the main issues were in their community and what actions they could take to improve things. What started as a list became a focused community action plan for younger people who were more aware of certain problems in the area and were now in a position to do something about it. The group found that there were a number of issues like health, crime and negative thinking in the area and they ran workshops around these topics to see what could be done.
Helen Bartlett, Youth Work Co-Ordinator at The Hangleton & Knoll Project, said, “It’s a unique document, certainly in Brighton & Hove. We wanted to collect young people’s views around specific areas, identified by themselves, and what actions they would like to be carried out. We consult with young people on how they think something can be improved and then they are involved in creating community change around these issues. Young people lead the whole process from the initial ideas through debating, consulting, researching and completing the work.”
Since launching the manifesto in 2013 The Hangleton & Knoll Project have worked with the initial group of young people and an ever-growing selection of people from the surrounding area. More locals felt the appeal as they saw their peers getting involved in pro-active and exciting projects which were making a difference to their community. Young people are involved in the whole process from the initial ideas through debating, consulting, researching and completing the work which is why this manifesto is so distinctive in its approach. The project has been commended by politicians across all political parties and some have met with the team to find out more about how it has been so effective. The nature of the manifesto is exciting for those involved because it’s an evolving document. Each year they can promote successes, review their achievements and prioritise the things which matter most to the community going forward. The first two years have resulted in a number of successes including the work they undertook on a notorious shelter in Hangleton Park. Following reported drug use and anti-social behaviour the group and the youth team held work days with young people to repaint the shelter which resulted in increased ownership of a positive area for local young people to use. The impact of this partnership has been a significant reduction in reports of drug use and anti-social
behaviour therefore reducing the need for other service intervention.
The Hangleton & Knoll Project are also a part of The Brighton and Hove Youth Collective, an organisation which brings together a number of youth services across the city to provide the best platform for young people to get a positive start in their lives.
Helen Bartlett, said, “I think working closely with a range of organisations and being able to share resources and best practices is vital and The Brighton and Hove Youth Collective has certainly built up those links. If you look across the city there are now so many ways we can benefit each other to support young people as a whole. “We’d like to link-up the manifesto and make it transferable across The Collective so everyone can see what is important to young people in each area. We think there will be common priorities across different areas and we can support young people to work on these priorities together to achieve change”. At the moment The Hangleton & Knoll Project are planning more events and focusing on how to achieve more from what they’ve learnt from past successes. They have recently held a fundraiser for an event in to be held in Hangleton Park in May 2015 to highlight health issues. It will be for all ages and will feature sports, activities and opportunities to learn more about health, wellbeing, sexual health and healthy eating for teenagers and young people. To find out more about the manifesto and any events it has lined up for the future take a look at their website here http://www.hkym.co.uk/.