As part of international #womensday we want to celebrate the impact young women have on helping other young people cope with making a living. That’s why we’re really chuffed to share with you our interview with Sarah Drummond @rufflemuffin Co-Founder of @wearesnook and Director of@thisisthematter.
@thisisthematter is a newspaper run, produced and published entirely by young people. Each edition is their public response to a question asked by the government or a business.
@thisisthematter helps young people realise they can make anything happen, whilst giving them the confidence to stand up for what they believe in. It teaches skills that are essential to employers by getting young people to form teams, undertake research, work to deadlines and pitch what they’ve produced. For the clients it is an innovative and effective way of engaging with young people.
@thisisthematter is a collaboration between @wearesnook, a social innovative service design agency and @youngscot, the national youth information and citizenship charity for Scotland.
How did @thisisthematter come about?
@thisisthematter started off being pitched to the Working Well Design Challenge which is asking the question “can you solve the issues around youth unemployment”. I really wanted to do something around that, as around all the projects that we do at @wearesnook, we get a lot of insights about young people through interviewing them for other clients.
I get really disappointed that young people don’t really have a lot to do even though there are things to do. But those things are just not catering to what they need or would like to do.
My family grew up in and around Craigroyston and Muirhouse, a neighbourhood in Edinburgh, which has it’s challenges, to be honest. We did a project there and I met a person who inspired me to do this, who just spent all the day at home doing nothing and then drinking in the park in the evening.
I thought, “what if there was an activity that inspired people to do something different and get off their backsides”. @thisisthematter could be a filler for that. It really made me think about creating this new kind of programme. NEETS is all about education, employment and training. We should have an E for entrepreneur!
There’s no trajectory for those young people to do that. When you look at skills programmes, they’re to get people to do crap jobs. I want to think about how you can take entrepreneurship and add that into the term NEETS. Then, the third thing came from a talk I had online on careers. Someone asked a question about entrepreneurship and the first thing they said was “how do we get young people into being more entrepreneurial?” The answer someone gave was “start with identifying the gap in the market.” You’re like, “come on, gap is like a shop to them”. It was silly advice, all about Alan Sugars.
We need to demystify what the term entrepreneurship means. So we came up with a back of a napkin idea. It was getting young people to research and design a newspaper.
It was really successful in its first pilot, so we said we’d run two pilots. When we ran the first one, we did it with Edinburgh Council, there were 600 people. The client posed the question about how young people’s voices could be heard in community planning and partnership.
So what we do is recruit people from a local youth centre. We meet them around four to five times over the programme. We provide them with content about what we’re going to be doing, it’s almost like a micro enterprise, i.e. “what’s the aim, what’s the mission statement, what are the roles in the team”.
We give them a challenge and help them build up their communications and enterprise skills online. We give them research techniques “what do we mean by vox-popping in the community, what do we mean by doing a stakeholder map to identify who you need to speak to in the community”.
Over the eight weeks, we meet them to supervise their research and then teach them how to be do copywriting, editing and design the newspaper.
Across the whole process, everything’s shared online and there is a launch event. The first one we had at the council and there was about 30 people which was a quite a good turnout given it was the first meeting. It went really well. The group of young people we had presented magically. They organised everything before we got there. They were asked for interviews by a couple of local newspapers. The local councillor came and took one of their ideas through the community grant process.
We’ve done a second pilot, which we’re finishing now, which has been more difficult, but we’ve produced thicker content for the newspaper.
The elevator pitch of what we’re trying to do is shape youth consultation online by getting young people to research, design and publish a newspaper which answers the question set by client. The whole point, without labouring too much on this, is that we do teach employability skills as we go that increases people’s confidence and develops their customer service skills, the things that are in every single policy paper.
Through evaluating that on our pilot, it’s showing an increase in those skills. For me, the most important thing above all of that is that after the Edinburgh pilot, we asked the young people what they got from it and they talked about confidence. The said “we believe we can make anything happen”. That for me, was a real winner because we’ve got a group from an area which is very deprived. Probably the last two generations haven’t been in work and you’ve got young people going “everything’s achievable”. They’re tweeting people in Dundee about their newspaper and selling it. It’s great to have people stepping out of their geographic and mental boundaries.
Read the next parts of the interview at Making a Living