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  • Iain Corbett

Unveiling the Impact of Young People in Today’s Social Innovation Landscape

At Neighbourly Lab, we recognise that the community belongs to ALL, and with that, we must strive to ensure that everyone within that community feels seen, heard and valued. 

Too often, when it comes to the decisions made in communities, this is reserved solely for the adults in the community. We are looking at consciously trying to buck that trend by creating ways for young people to be more active citizens.  Neighbourly Lab continues to explore ways in which young people can contribute to their community in ways that they have identified as usually being reserved for adults.

As part of our work on Essential Mix - a National Lottery Communities Fund-funded project - we asked young people in Glasgow which ways they would like to be involved in their community that they currently have no control over. Two of the strongest themes to emerge were, that they had no control over spending or decision-making in their community, and they had no opportunities to safely engage with adults outside their immediate circle. As part of Essential Mix, Neighbourly Lab sought to change that. 

Young people were asked what they would like to see in their community that didn't exist, and that they had never been consulted on. The participants in Drumchapel, in the northwest of Glasgow identified that there was no art or culture in their community and that they would love to brighten the place up with a community mural. So that is what they did. 

With some help and guidance from Neighbourly Lab and the infallible G15 Youth Project, the young people designed not one, not two but four community murals celebrating their community's 70th birthday. The young people wrote to several organisations to ask them to come and take part alongside the young people to use it as an opportunity to increase connection

For one mural the young people worked alongside war veterans from a local church, in another they worked alongside adults with additional support considerations from Fortune Works, a project by Enable Scotland and on another a whole host of local people came together to support the young people with their mural. 

Drumchapel became a much brighter place, not just because of the colour-adorned walls around every corner, but because of connection. People who would once walk by one another in the street now stopped to say hello. Young people and adults alike celebrated their artworks, sharing space to stake their claim on their community. 

The young people reported they felt safer walking the streets, the adults were now less intimidated by the youth - and all because they took some time to put paint on a wall. 

Bringing the community together was simple - changing who had the power, who did the inviting and who led on the project, we saw massive shifts.

In total over:

70 people took part in the murals.

70 people more connected to their place.

70 people feeling more safe in their community.

& 70 people with 70 new friends

Innovation doesn’t always need to be huge, sometimes a small change can make a big difference

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