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Campaign to Combat Youth Unemployment
  • Campaign to Combat Youth Unemployment

    By Ava Patel

    20th Sep 2012

    I remember being in primary school and grown-ups asking me what I’d like to be when I’m older, I’d reply with a vast array of magical things, a unicorn, a superhero, a tight-rope walker…  This was obviously when I was quite young and as I got older my answers turned to lawyer, surgeon, teacher…  And then I graduated with a degree in journalism and started asking my younger cousins the same question.  As they replied I worried about how realistic their aspirations were.  I worried about the fact that they were looking up to me as some sort of positive role model when I myself was unemployed.  I worried that as we were sat talking about aspirations, there were over 1 million unemployed youths in Britain (Office of National Statistics.)

    After graduating I was so ready to work.  I thought there would be ample opportunity for me to practise the skills I had learnt at uni and was eager to impress.  What I quickly found was that it wasn’t about your skills or ambition, but more about how much work experience you had.  I started wondering how I’d get relevant experience when no-one would give me a job, and then fell into a lifestyle of searching for jobs all day whilst being on benefits.  I couldn’t take any more day-time television and after a well know supermarket rejected my application to stack shelves I started to wonder what I was doing so wrong.  Shortly after, I got a job answering 999 emergency calls and I remember being so proud of myself when I received my first wage, at that point the journalism dream seemed far, far away but it didn’t matter.  ‘Cause I had a job.

    That bliss didn’t last though, so I went part time and looked for journalism jobs every evening.  It was during one of these searches that I found what can only (cheesily) be described as the job I’d day-dream about, working with Battlefront as a paid campaigner for three months.  

    So, the Campaign to Combat Youth Unemployment.  I remember stepping into the office and going to my desk, MY desk?!  It was almost surreal, I got shown where the tea and coffee was kept and got access to my own personal email account, it all just seemed too good to be true.  It’s hard to look back now and imagine myself doing anything else and I couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning feeling happy about the coming day instead of dreading it.  So far the campaign has been everything I thought it would be and more.  

    The challenge set by my mentor John Higginson who is the Political Editor of The Metro means I have to gather as much press and publicity for the campaign as possible and as part of this, I’ve set up an under/unemployed choir  to raise the profile of young peoples’ voices.  So far Paloma Faith has visited one of our rehearsals and I went to see Max Clifford for his tips on how to get the most coverage as possible.  I was with Alastair Campbell last week and as well as taking the mickey out of my home-town football team, he provided invaluable advice on how to talk to top politicians.  It’s been a whirlwind of names and faces but the bottom line is, youth unemployment has effects that can scar a young person for life.  It’s not for the benefit or on the agenda of ANY 16-24 year old to become part of a lost generation, especially when we have so much to offer.  The situation that is over one million young unemployed people cannot be ignored for any longer.  And that’s where myself and four other young campaigners come in…  



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