Reflections on We Belong's 2021 Youth Summit

The highlights, our gratitude, and what happens next!

On Sunday 15th August, the We Belong 2021 Youth Summit drew to a close with our first-ever awards ceremony. As we virtually danced out to (I've Had) The Time of My Life and the ceremony came to an end, (with the winners holding up their shiny awards) we were really proud of all that we achieved over the course of the 3-day event. 

The 2021 Youth Summit was a celebration of the power of young people, especially within the fields of Youth Activism, Young Mental Health, and Digital Storytelling.

Our workshops ranged from 'How to Tell Your Story With Canva', to 'Social Media for Change-Makers' and even our own 'How to Influence Parliament'. 

We also showcased some youth-led organisations and young people who are great examples of our Youth Summit ethos: Vee Kativhu, Conversations from Calais, Shrouk El-Attar and Kira Charlton which you can read about in this animated video!

Our panel discussions came alive with an incredible list of guest speakers. These included: 

  • Percelle Ascot, Zimbabwean Actor, Writer & Producer
  • Marvin Crichlow, Founder and Campaign Leader of Dope Black Movement
  • Ruth Ike Olorunnisomo, Psychology with BSL Graduate and Youth Worker
  • Meg Zeenat Wamithi, Youth Mental Health Advocate
  • Lucas Codognolla, United We Dream Community Organizer, Social Entrepreneur and Advocacy Specialist
  • Arkam Babar, Equal Access Campaigner and Student Outcomes Officer at Kings College London
  • Sophia Alexander Hall, Children's Rights Advocate and Journalist
  • Ahmad Nawaz, Youth empowerment and Anti-radicalisation Activist
  • Daniel Lawes, Founder of Youth Politics UK
  • Mathilda Della Torre, Founder of 'Conversations from Calais' and Choose Love Communications Assistant .
  • Abbianca  Makoni, Community Affairs Specialist and Journalist
  • Adesayo Talabi (@simplysayo), Journalist, Content Creator, and Performance Kpoet
  • Adebola Lamuye, We Belong Core Campaigner and BBC Journalist

 

All of our guest speakers were fellow young people!

Emphasising our belief that not only can young people be the leaders of these important conversations, they should be the leading voices. Here are some of our favourite quotes from our panel guest speakers: 

 “We live in a very ageist society where young people are not encouraged to speak out. But remember we are experts in our own experiences, so one of the most powerful tools we have is to tell our stories.”

- Lucas Codognolla

"You can’t change the world but you can change your world; narrow down your focus to where you can make an impact."

- Meg Zeenat Wamithi

"When it comes to community organising, young people need to step up and say to the government: 'you’re not going to make legislation that concerns me without involving me in the decision making'”

- Daniel Lawes

It was so inspiring to connect with fellow young people who are rising to the challenge and sparking change in whatever ways they can. 

Throughout the Summit, one message remained clear: our voices deserve to be heard, and there is power in each of our unique experiences. 

Finally, we would like to give special thanks to mandla, a Manchester-based writer, programmer, facilitator and theatre-maker (and former Refugee Week Leader!) who contributed a performance of the poem 'Inherent Traveller' to mark our 2021 Youth Summit. It is a beautiful poem and a powerful performance. We hope you enjoy listening along with us:  

17 Aug 2021