In her regular column about life at The Mill, Helen Bigham has some encouragement for local young people
The famous English raconteur Quentin Crisp once said: “The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.”
Peer influence can be dangerous. Research shows that young people in Britain are more likely to drink, take drugs, have sex, join gangs, and get into fights, than almost anywhere else in Europe. A local community consultation identified concerns around anti-social behaviour.
One argument is that young people have a lack of places to get together. However, research shows that just providing a meeting place can do more harm than good. A more productive method is to run regular structured projects that interest young people. To get young people involved they need to be listened to and have their views taken into account. They need opportunities to decide for themselves how they would like to spend their time and for them to be able to influence what they would like to do.
The Mill provides space for activities set up by local people who come up with the idea and then run the project. A young person called Semih recently launched a weekly Japanese card game group based around the Manga series Yu-Gi-Oh. Although he lives locally, his school is an hour away and he had no-one in the area with whom to play the game.
Semih said: “It’s better than staying at home doing nothing. Other people can make their own clubs – it’s really fun. Before I set up the group I thought The Mill was more a place to show artwork, now I know there’s a place here for me and I can play something I enjoy.”
Our current exhibition This is Me features artwork by students from Whitefield School and Joseph Clarke School, and is well worth a visit. The artwork explores themes of identity and self through a variety of media and techniques explored by the students.
Why not also sign up to The Mill’s free weekend ‘Comms Boot Camp’ for people aged between 16 and 22 years? It takes place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November and is run by industry experts, covering everything from telling a good story to using social media for good.
And if you’re already part of a group or have an idea to support young people in the area around The Mill, St James Street Big Local is offering grants of up to £10,000 with a closing date for applications on 22nd November.
For more information: