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Ipswich declared UK’s first Town of Youth Social Action

Ipswich has gained the title of the UK’s first “Town of Youth Social Action” working with the
#iwill movement, joining Manchester, the first City of Youth Social Action, in leading a national movement to put the voices of children and young people at the heart of local decision-making.

On Thursday 24th November the newly founded Ipswich Social Mobility Alliance declared its commitment to begin a long-term strategy to create a more joined up and effective system to support children and young people in the town to reach their potential. Signing the Power of Youth Charter at the University of Suffolk, the executive steering group promised to ensure that young people’s voices were at the heart of a new approach to ensure children and young people don’t fall through the gaps.

Richard Lister, Chair of the Ipswich Social Mobility Alliance said “Ipswich was identified by the Department for Education as an Opportunity Area in 2017 because of low social mobility. When that funded programme ended after 5 successful years, those of us involved decided that we just couldn’t let that go – in fact we wanted to grow it and get more sectors involved.” The steering group has an ambition to bring every organisation and community group that works with or for children and young people in Ipswich into the Alliance, crossing sectors and hierarchies, to create a stronger local system.

“Working in silos doesn’t work” says Richard, “and if you’re looking at social mobility you need to look longer term than 3- or 5-year Government programmes usually last. We are committed to improving life chances, and as a group we will be here for as long as it takes, with young people at the heart of decision-making.”

The Ipswich Social Mobility Alliance steering group was also joined by Minister for Civil Society and Young People, Rt Hon Stuart Andrew who talked with children from local schools Cliff Lane Primary and St Helen’s Primary, and young people from Volunteering Matters and 4YP about their youth social action projects, as well as with local and national ambassadors from the #iwill movement. He said in his closing comments “It’s projects that these young people have been talking about today that inspired me to get into politics - I grew up in a council estate where we had very little, but it’s groups like yours taking social action that got us a community centre and playground, and enriched our community. I really do see the power of people coming together and working for their communities and I congratulate Ipswich for the amazing amounts of work that you’re doing. I’m blown away by your energy and enthusiasm for making the community in which you live a better place.”

Organisations and groups that would like to join the Ipswich Social Mobility Alliance are invited to sign up to the “One Ipswich – A Meeting of Allies” event on January 20th 2023 at Adastral Park.