Fearless Youth Hooks 4 Change
Jaya grew up in the Midlands in the UK, where she was the first in her family to attend university. A musician, rapper and singer, Jaya knows how important it is for young people - particularly young people of color - to have access to creative outlets as well as access to opportunities.
Growing up in the Midlands, Jaya experienced what it was like to belong to Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) community. “Young people from BAME communities suffer the most from educational inequality and lack of social mobility, ever-widening the gap of achievement and Black, Asain and minority ethnic representation across institutions and powerful positions. Not only are people from these communities stigmatized by racial bias, but they are more likely to be from impoverished areas which also has a direct correlation to access to education and social mobility. Furthermore, young people from these communities are more likely to be victims of crime, and less likely to have access to opportunities inside and outside of school to change their reality,” Jaya notes.
Talking to other young people in her community, Jaya explains that they felt that the education system did not cater for BAME communities for several reasons. Education focused too much on academic subjects and not enough on creative fields, which are now gaining more importance than ever before thanks to social media. They also felt misunderstood and that teachers and staff did not treat them with the same respect as their white counterparts. The young people Jaya spoke to expressed a sense of hopelessness and disengagement when it came to ideas around future education and jobs, suggesting that they felt doomed no matter what in a society that simply doesn't seem to care about them.
Jaya knew she wanted to do something to change this, but what really motivated her to take action was the fact that many BAME youth are extremely talented, with many rapping, singing and creating art but with no opportunities to use their talent. She created Youth Hooks 4 Change, a package that was delivered to young people to sign post them to jobs and creative opportunities in the local area in order to motivate BAME youth to pursue their dreams outside of violence and gangs. “We are offering young people from BAME groups and impoverished areas peer and mentor support alongside care packages that provide them with activities to help get them thinking about different career paths, as well as contact information for mental health, career guidance and volunteer services,” says Jaya. But that’s not it, Youth Hooks 4 Change also offers young people from BAME communities creative avenues to express their talent through free online courses and music studio time to help them explore their hobbies and interests on a deeper level.
With support from Peace First Jaya was not only able to pay for the contents of the care package but to also think about the long term impact of her project. Jaya with the support of Peace First began to think about how she could support young people beyond just the initial stage and develop more intimate relationships with those who sign up.
Reflecting on her project Jaya says that the project creation journey with Peace First deepened her understanding of the inequality of access, as many young people do not have access to the internet or even a phone, so her team had to think of ways to ensure that they cater to as many young people as possible. She hopes to secure more funding to expand the project beyond Nottingham and to other BAME communities across the country.