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One Ipswich: Making It Happen

So what did happen at our June event?

Monday June 19th 2023, Adastral Park

When we met as Allies to kick off the Ipswich Social Mobility Alliance (ISMA) in January, we launched the "Festival of Youth Voices" a listening project where we collected the views of our young people in one place, then agreed to come together in June to consider their messages and think about how to take action.

This Monday was that action focused event, brilliantly opened, led and closed in style by children and young people from a range of our organisations: Cliff Park Primary School, 4YP, Suffolk New College, St Helen's Primary, #iwill ambassadors and Volunteering Matters. We also took time to listen to the views of young people as shared on our Festival Map from Claire at Future Female Society, Out Loud Music, The Oaks primary school, St Helen's primaryCliff Lane primary, All Hallows girl guides, Dance East, Castle Hill primary and Suffolk New College ambassador group.

The overarching purpose of our event was to capture the key actions needed for our town action plan that we'll publish in Autumn.

Morgan from Volunteering Matters stressed the importance of talking up the town and communities with positive language. He asked attendees to consider 5 things they would do by the end of the meeting - if 100 attendees took 5 things away on their to-do list that would make 500 small changes to improve social mobility in Ipswich in an afternoon.

Holly Notcutt from the #iwill movement and Ben Miller from Ipswich Community Media took us through some thinking on how we create change on complex issues like social mobility by working together and navigating good practice and best practice... the takeaway? Complex challenges need lots of incremental improvements across a system, leading us to ask "What if the next big thing is lots of little things?". You can sign up to a workshop to explore this thinking with Holly and Ben by registering here, and they'll send details. You can find their slidedeck below.

Children from Cliff Lane and St Helen's primary schools took us through some thought experiments - "How does your organisation support us and our families?", "How do you overcome barriers we might have to taking up opportunities that are free?".

TJ, Tom and Sam from Suffolk New College gave their own testimonies about challenges they have faced as young people and asked participants how they could "Be the hero you needed when you were young". They gave some great tips for things that they could add to participants' "5 things" list, earning some well-deserved applause:

  • Give us work experience to expand our CVs. 

  • Help us develop the employability skills you look for in employees. 

  • Share industry based guidance to support relevant learning. 

  • Show us that YOU can be our safe adult by coming into our learning environments and inspiring us. 

  • Become part of our community.

  • Get to know us. 

  • Show kindness. 

  • Care about our futures and support us in making them positive.

Finally TJ, Tom and Sam challenged us to host another event in October, and feed back to young people what progress our organisations are making in response, as well as the changes we are making as individuals.

We heard from two #iwill ambassadors; Hannah Walton who talked eloquently about her own journey from overwhelming mental health challenges to taking a PhD next year: "Social action literally changed my life", and Molly Taylor, who returned after a deeply thought-provoking story in January to chair our "What If" panel.

Gavin Stone of 4YP led us in thinking "What if..." before our lightning presenters gave us 3 minutes on the following ways we might all make changes to work better together for children and young people in Ipswich:

  • "What If we had collaborative physical spaces to work more closely together?" (Urban Rooms)
  • "What if young people could rate and share safe and welcoming spaces?" (Welcoming Places)
  • "What if we had a digital collaborative space to work together?" (Switchboard)
  • "What if we all commit to youth voice in our decision making?" (Power of Youth Charter)

All are projects that are live in our town, which you can get involved in and power up.

George Fielding of the #iwil campaign congratulated Ipswich on being the place with the highest number of organisations (13!) signed up to the Power of Youth Charter but insisted It's not enough! As the UK's first town of social action, let's see all ISMA partners signed up and putting young people in a position to challenge our thinking and influence decisions that matter in their lives.

It was great to see Sam from the Suffolk New College group sing us out to "This is Me" and all our young people on stage to close the event.

But what next?

In Autumn we'll publish our action plan - but you don't have to wait until then to start improving social mobility in Ipswich!

You could: