Last week the Wavemaker Team had the absolute privilege of working with a small group of young people from The Prince’s Trust in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
The Prince’s Trust, in short, is a youth charity that supports unemployed young people and those struggling at school, to get their lives on track.
Our mission, which we chose to accept, was to work with a specific group around the Government’s counter terrorism strategy called Prevent. Prevent is about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism and it aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. Our role was to provide tech specialisms, equipping the group with STEM skills, utilising The Trust’s fantastic SAMSUNG digital classroom and giving the group the confidence to use these facilities more regularly.
To say we were slightly daunted by the task and political minefield that lay before us, was an understatement. How would the workshops be received? Would we be able to educate young people fairly around an area that is already influenced so heavily by the media and personal opinion? Would the young people engage and focus on what is a pretty heavy topic? Which biscuits do teenagers like the best?
With all these questions swimming around our minds, the Wavemaker Team set off from HQ to spend the next two days at The Prince’s Trust. We were there to offer the young people a way of exploring the issues around Prevent, using interactive technology, to help educate and support their learning. The third day of the project was for the young people to bring together all they had learned about the strategy and present their findings, in the auditorium at the Mitchell Arts Centre, to an audience of local council members, local schools, the police and the leaders of The Prince’s Trust itself. Not Prince Charles, but we were assured that these people weren’t far off. No pressure.
Over the course of the next few days the young people at The Prince’s Trust just blew us away. The maturity and empathy they showed, the sense of teamwork and support they offered each other and the ideas they generated to combat issues, that even leave the politicians scratching their heads, was truly admirable. They welcomed us into their space, cooked fantastic food for us and ate with us. We talked to together and even laughed together.
The group attacked each challenge with gusto: from designing interactive online quizzes, editing a wealth of footage into a film that would rival any BAFTA nominated short, listening to speeches from the local community cohesion officer, in addition to someone who had even been through the Prevent system themselves after becoming radicalised. A section of the group even took to the streets of Hanley, to ask members of the public their views on what is a very challenging topic; revealing quite controversial and contrasting opinions at times. Even when faced with this, the young people of The Prince’s Trust showed impeccable manners and respect for the opinions of others, no matter how much they clashed with their own.
On the day of the presentation, nerves were fraught…and that was just us! The Prince’s Trust team were all responsible for presenting their project to the audience, introducing the speakers, the video and also hosting the interactive quiz. Finally, after a morning of learning lines and the running order, the time had come.
Each speaker took the stage a true professional, battling through nerves and forgotten script to deliver their understanding of Prevent to other people within the community. The young people used all the knowledge on Prevent and technology that they had acquired across the three days, to put on an event that engaged everyone in attendance. The interactive quiz created a real buzz among the school children, the video really brought home the importance of such training and the questions to the panel at the end, which consisted of council members and the police, really highlighted how far the young people at the Prince’s Trust had come. They were now creating ideas and questions for themselves, using the knowledge they had obtained to seek answers and offer resolutions for the issues they had discovered within the community.
As the event ended, a collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout staff and young people alike. A success. A project that had definitely delivered and had not only educated the young people at The Prince’s Trust, it had educated the staff, the Wavemaker Team, even the community, and not many people can say they have ever achieved that.
As young people of The Prince’s Trust said their goodbyes and left, their only trace being tabletops strewn with biscuit crumbs, a sense of pride and also sadness descended over the Wavemaker Team. It had been an absolute pleasure and now we felt a little emotional. As we started to clear up the working areas, we discovered a young girl from the group busying herself in our making space, trying her hand at the vinyl cutter. Taking confidence from a successful day, pouring this into creating something else, another thing to feel proud about.
The Wavemaker Team couldn’t feel anymore proud of the work the young people at The Prince’s Trust produced, and we can’t wait to work with them again. We learned so much from our time with The Trust, not only about Prevent, but that there are some really special young people in this city…and that they really like biscuits.