X Close

Global Youth

Home

An interdisciplinary research centre that examines what it means to grow up in a global world

Menu

Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Intergenerational perspectives on growing up in coastal towns: a new project on coastal youth experiences

UCL Global Youth8 April 2022

By Rachel Benchekroun (Research Assistant, TCRU/CGY) and Pippa Curtin (Voice and influence co-ordinator, North East Lincolnshire Council)

Living in a coastal town in the UK offers unique opportunities, but research shows there are increased risks of poor outcomes in health, education and employment (CMO 2021, HOL 2019, Agarwal et al. 2018). Geographical isolation, limited transport networks and the decline of fishing and heavy industries since the 1970s have been key factors.

Our new project builds on earlier work led by Dr Avril Keating (Centre for Global Youth) with young people in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, and asks about growing up in coastal towns today compared with earlier, more prosperous, eras. We are co-producing the new study with young people and community groups, bringing together residents of different generations to explore their experiences of growing up in North East Lincolnshire. How has life changed in their coastal towns since the postwar ‘boom’ years, and how has this shaped young people’s experiences of growing up? What do residents of different generations see as the challenges for young people in coastal towns, and how might these be overcome?

Co-producing knowledge

We will also explore how co-production methodologies can facilitate intergenerational dialogue on these issues, and we’ll seek to develop shared understandings. UCL researchers, national organisation Young Advisors and NE Lincolnshire Council are excited to develop our collaborative work. This month, we’re training a group of young people as young researchers. Through a series of workshops, we’re working together to design and carry out research with young and older residents.

As a team, we’re developing innovative participatory methods, including community events to host group discussions, in-depth one-to-one interviews using potographic and mapping methods, and walking tours of Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Walking tours will offer opportunities not only for learning about local heritage, but also for finding out about future developments and sharing visions and aspirations. We aim to capture participants’ stories, reflections and ideas by recording conversations and taking photographs during our walks.

We’ll bring participants together to discuss and debate the challenges young people face growing up in coastal towns, and to share ideas for how these should be tackled. Together, we’ll make a plan to share our findings with local and regional stakeholders, such as the Greater Grimsby Board (responsible for overseeing the Grimsby Masterplan), decision-makers from NE Lincs Children’s Services and Adults’ Services, and the Coastal Communities Alliance. Our young researchers will play a key role in sharing findings from this research project. We want to ensure that policymakers are taking account of young people’s views in shaping the future of their towns.

Project partners and funders

Thomas Coram Research Unit, part of UCL Social Research Institute, is delighted to have been awarded funding for this project by UCL Grand Challenges Special Initiatives (under the ‘Intergenerational Dynamics’ theme), as well as additional funding from the Office of the Pro-Vice-Provost (UK). The funding will enable us to build relationships with a range of partners, including researchers at the University of Lincoln. Led by Prof Claire Cameron, and supported by Niccola Hutchinson-Pascal of the Co-Production Collective, we’ve started sharing ideas about co-production with Dr Anna Tarrant and Debbie Taylor of the Grimsby Dads Collective, participatory heritage projects with Prof Carenza Lewis, and heath inequalities in rural areas with Prof Mark Gussy. We’re keen to build on existing partnerships and look forward to developing new partnerships with local and national arts, heritage and community organisations and employers interested in our research topic, including Onside (currently developing Grimsby’s new Horizon Youth Zone centre) and Associated British Ports. This project will run from March – 31 October 2022.

Webinar on Race, Class, Youth and the City – 27th October

UCL Global Youth14 October 2021

The second webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 20th October from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on the inter-related issues of race, class, youth and city.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Presentation 1: Blasted Places – Smog, Steel and Stigma in a Post-industrial Region

Professor Anoop Nayak, Newcastle University

In 2015 the death knell tolled on Redcar steelworks in Teesside, North East England, ending 170-year-old history of steelmaking in the region.  The nearest major urban agglomeration, Middlesbrough, was literally brought-into-being with the discovery of iron ore, the rise of heavy engineering and later developments in petro-chemical manufacture.  Steel-manufacture, engineering and industry provided a stable future for generations of young people in the region.  But what happens when an area, spawned from the material elements of the Anthropocene, is no longer regarded as profitable?  When the iron core of its very constitution implodes, leaving it depicted as a redundant, polluted and blasted place?  This paper explores this transition and how Middlesbrough has come to be stigmatized as a ‘sulpherous zone’ (Wacquant, 2007), tarnished by chemical pollutants, high rates of unemployment, drugs and longstanding early teenage pregnancy.  It investigates the heavy weight of stigma in Teesside, how it comes to be attached to bodies, neighbourhoods, the natural environment and social life more generally.  However, contrary to the work of Wacquant (Wacquant, 2007; Wacquant et al. 2014) and other urban sociologists writing on territorial stigma, the study explores forms of local resistance and collective attempts by residents to reclaim, rework and re-script the supposedly stigmatized places they reside in.

Author Biography: Anoop Nayak is a Professor of Social & Cultural Geography at Newcastle University. His research interests are in: race and ethnic studies; youth, culture and social Class; and gender, masculinities and social Change. Anoop has published widely in these areas and is author of Race, Place and Globalization:  Youth Cultures in a Changing World (2003 Oxford: Berg).  He is co-author with Mary Jane Kehily of a joint monograph Gender, Youth and Culture:  Global Masculinities and Femininities (2013 2nd Ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan), and has published a social theory book on spatial relations of power with Alex Jeffrey entitled Geographical Thought (Routledge, 2013).  Anoop is currently leading a funded project exploring ‘Young People, Diversity and Belonging in a Post-Brexit Age’ (REA) and an ESRC co-production award exploring masculinities and care, ‘Boys to Men:  Developing New Templates for Masculinities in Primary Schools’.

Presentation 2: The Creative Underclass

Dr Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge

In his book The Creative Underclass, Denmead critically examines his paradoxical role as the founder of an American-based arts studio for youth. Some young people have credited the studio with providing transformative educational experiences, while, at the same time, acting as a gentrifying force in their neighbourhoods. Denmead will discuss how the concept of the creative underclass is useful in understanding this paradoxical dispossession-through-inclusion and the ways in which young people trouble the racial logics of creative-led urban transformation.

Author Biography: Tyler Denmead teaches in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and at Queens’ College.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Youth voice in the city: involving young people in research and planning and decisionmaking – 17th November.

UCL Global Youth8 October 2021

The fourth webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 17th November from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on the theme of youth voice, and will feature research from London and Athens.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

The practical ethics of doing urban planning research with young people

Hannah Sender, Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL

In this presentation, we’ll talk about what makes co-producing research with young people possible, and a positive experience. We’ll touch on different matters to do with practical ethics, including project management and design, mental health support, and payment. Whilst we’ll draw on our own experiences of working with/as young researchers in London, we aim to tease out some lessons we’ve learned which can be relevant for others working in different contexts.

Author Biography: Hannah Sender is a PhD student and Research Fellow at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. She is interested in how changes in urban areas affect adolescents’ everyday lives, subjectivities and futures. Hannah works with young people of different genders, nationalities, ethnicities and with different abilities, in Lebanon and the UK. She develops creative and collaborative methodologies which support young people to be researchers of their own lives and neighbourhoods.

Youth voice in the city – involving young people in research and planning and decision-making

Dr. Tom Western, UCL Department of Geography

This talk details a set of collaborative methods for creative activism. It centres on Athens, and the ways that people build autonomous spaces of research, knowledge, and cultural production – both as techniques of voice and mobilisation, and as means of remapping and remaking the city. I will narrate these methods through a project called the Active Citizens Sound Archive, which I run with my colleagues in the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum (SGYF). The archive is a space for amplifying citizenship work, youth activism, and community mobilising. It sings relational and collective geographies. It foregrounds imagination as a tool of social and political transformation, required to think things otherwise: to unmake borders, to form counterpublics, to assert presence and belonging, to open the city. The talk aims to share these methods of collaboration, relation, and imagination – detailing how academic and activist knowledges combine, and how vocal politics carry into research, planning, and decision-making.

Author Biography: Tom Western is a Lecturer in Social and Cultural Geography at UCL. His teaching and research centre on movements and migrations, cities and citizenships, relations and imaginations, activisms and anticolonialisms. Tom works primarily in Athens, Greece, where he studies and contributes to migratory activisms and creative citizenship movements. Based on this work, Tom is currently writing a book titled Circular Movements: Migratory Citizenships in Athens. The book hears how people in Athens creatively contest the logics of borders and citizenship regimes, reimagining questions of being and belonging in the city, and remaking citizenships against citizenship.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Webinar on Precarity, youth and the city – 20th October 2021

UCL Global Youth8 October 2021

The first webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 20th October from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on the theme of precarity, and will feature research from London and Nairobi.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Presentation 1: ‘Press-ganged’ Generation Rent: Youth homelessness, precarity and poverty in East London

Paul Watt, Professor of Urban Studies in the Department of Geography at Birkbeck, University of London.

This paper examines youth homelessness, precarity and poverty via a critical account of ‘Generation Rent’ – that young people are living in the private rental sector (PRS) in perpetuity having been locked out of both homeownership and social renting. The post-2008 crash period has witnessed a profound transformation in young people’s tenure expectations and experiences such that homeownership has become an impossible dream for most, while social renting has also become increasingly out-of-reach for working-class youth due to four decades of neoliberalisation and the last decade of austerity welfare cutbacks. Rather than being a transitional tenure for young people embarking on their housing careers, the PRS has become their de facto tenure of destination, hence giving rise to the influential notion of ‘Generation Rent’. This paper examines precarity and the notion of Generation Rent by focussing on employment (non-standard contracts) and housing (insecurity and evictions) with reference to in-depth interviews undertaken with 55 young people aged 18-30. This multi-ethnic group of low-income, working-class youth were living in temporary accommodation either in East London or in South East England having been displaced there from London. The paper illustrates the interlinkages between employment and housing precarity. However, despite the young people’s well-founded antipathy towards the PRS, they were being steered towards this tenure by housing officials – not renting from the PRS was no longer an option. Therefore, if the PRS is becoming a ‘tenure of destination’ for young people, this represents a case of coerced, ‘press-ganged’ Generation Rent for Black, Asian and white working-class youth.

Author Biography: Paul Watt is Professor of Urban Studies in the Department of Geography at Birkbeck, University of London. He has published widely on social housing, urban regeneration, homelessness, gentrification, suburbanisation, and the 2012 Olympic Games. His most recent book is Estate Regeneration and Its Discontents: Public Housing, Place and Inequality in London (Policy Press, 2021):

Presentation 2: Hustling recentred – thinking with Nairobi to understand young working lives in the post-wage economy.

Dr Tatiana Thieme, UCL Geography

This presentation draws on ethnographic research in one of Nairobi’s oldest and largest informal settlements, Mathare, where young people mobilise the notion of ‘hustle’ to express narratives of struggle, day to day income opportunities, and solidarities in under-served neighbourhoods. In this context, everyday young lives navigate constant economic, social and political insecurity, caught in a state of suspension (or ‘waithood’) while shaping local practices of provisioning in the absence of formal structures of support. The presentation will reflect on the temporalities and terrains of the hustle economy in Mathare, which include the emerging tensions and solidarities between different generations of youth, and between youth who stay and those who leave ‘the hood’. Finally, the presentation will pan out to reflect on how ‘hustling’ is situated within wider debates around the future of work for youth. Here I reflect on hustling as an increasingly globalised vernacular, that simultaneously presents an affirmative narrative of work outside normative conventions of the wage, while also echoing on-going expressions of racial capitalism and marginalisation.

Author Biography: Dr Tatiana Thieme is an Associate Professor in Human Geography at UCL Geography. Her research interests engage with different aspects of entrepreneurial and makeshift urbanism, and recent research has focused on alternative cultural and economic geographies related to the politics of urban poverty, informal work, and everyday coping strategies in contexts of precarious urban environments. The three sub-themes of her research are: Urban political ecology of sanitation and waste; Youth geographies and “hustle” economies; social enterprise and development.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

New webinar series for Autumn 2021: Youth and the City

UCL Global Youth10 September 2021

The Centre for Global Youth (CGY) is hosting a series of webinars to explore questions of youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

When? The webinars will take place on Wednesday from 12-1 on the following dates:

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dr Tatiana Thieme, UCL Department of Geography
  • Professor Paul Watt, Birkbeck University
  • Professor Anoop Nayak, Newcastle University
  • Dr Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Sarah Pickard, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris
  • Dena Arya, Nottingham Trent University
  • Dr. Joseph Egwurube, University of La Rochelle
  • Hannah Sender, Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL
  • Tom Western, UCL Department of Geography
  • Dr Gabriel Dattatreyan, Goldsmiths

The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on our YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua. To book your ticket and receive a link for the webinar, please visit our Eventbrite page.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Growing up in coastal towns: exploring the impact of place on young people’s life chances

UCL Global Youth21 June 2021

Coastal towns have come to the fore in recent UK policy debates, as some of the most deprived neighbourhoods are now in coastal areas. These debates often raise concerns about the future of young people in these towns, largely because of the limited educational and employment opportunities in these communities. Despite this, there is almost no research on the impact of growing up in coastal communities on young people and their future prospects. The core aim of this project, therefore, is to consider: in what ways does growing up in a coastal town impact on young people’s experiences, aspirations, and life chances?

The project is particularly interested in the impact of place-based inequalities as coastal towns tend to have distinct characteristics because of:

  • Location and infrastructure (e.g. geographical isolation and poor transport links)
  • Local labour market (e.g. limited opportunities for stable, year-round employment).
  • Educational opportunities: (e.g. few post-16 institutions and difficulties recruiting teachers)
  • Demography: (e.g. high levels of youth out-migration and residents on low incomes)
  • Public and health services: (g. difficulties recruiting GPs; cuts to youth services)
  • Environment: (e.g. less polluted, but environmental degradation because of funding cuts and concentration of deprivation).

Our first task is to examine whether these characteristics create place-based inequalities that mean coastal towns are distinct from other deprived communities in the UK. If so, do these inequalities have a unique impact on the life chances of young people who grow up in coastal towns?

The second aim is to ask young people about their experiences of growing up in coastal communities and asking them if these experiences have shaped their aspirations for the future. At the same time, we will also ask them: what are the solutions they would propose to improve their coastal communities? What do they feel these communities need in order to provide a environment for young people where they can flourish?

This will be a mixed-method project that will combine secondary data analysis with more exploratory qualitative data collection activities that combine arts-based methods with co-production and collaborative activities with young people living in coastal towns. The project builds on previous work undertaken in Margate.

For further information, contact: Avril Keating.

Project team:

  • Avril Keating, Director of the Centre for Global Youth
  • Prof Claire Cameron, Professor of Social Pedagogy, Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), and UCL-Institute of Education
  • Dr Michela Franceshelli, Associate Professor of Sociology, TCRU and UCL-Institute of Education
  • Dr Emily Murray, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Population Health Sciences.
  • Dr Stephen Jivraj, Associate Professor in Quantitative Social Science based in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Population Health Sciences.
  • Rachel Benchekroun (Research Assistant)
  • Francesca McCarthy (Research Assistant)

Start date: 1 June 2021

End date: 28th Feb 2022

Youth mobility webinar series week 5: Young Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers in the UK

UCL Global Youth21 April 2021

On Tuesday 1st June, 2021, 12 noon UK time. Register for this event on Eventbrite.

The fifth and final webinar in this series focuses on the distinct mobility experiences of young unaccompanied asylum seekers and the challenges they face after they arrive in the UK.

Dr Elaine Chase and Dr Rachel Rosen seek to understand youth mobilities (and immobilities) within the context of violent and discriminatory immigration systems and structures which also shape largely restrictive welfare regimes.  They argue that the most urgent issues we need to understand are not the factors driving young people to move/stay, but rather their experiences of and interactions with immigration and welfare systems and structures once they arrive in the UK/Europe. COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity to all this (impacting on access to asylum procedures/ justice/rights etc).  In such contexts, aspirations frequently become collective endeavours to reshape the immigration/welfare landscape through collective voice and forms of advocacy.

Presentation 1: Lives on Hold our Stories Told (LOHST): Unaccompanied migrant young people’s perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and wellbeing

Dr Elaine Chase, UCL Institute of Education

Previous work has shown how the wellbeing outcomes of unaccompanied migrant young people arriving in the UK, particularly as they make the transition to institutional ‘adulthood’ at 18, are structured by complex immigration, social care and related policies.  Hence, vulnerabilities in the context of mobility and migration are fundamentally politically-induced (Chase and Allsopp 2020).  COVID- 19 has added another layer of complexity to the lives of young people seeking the right to remain in the UK and build their futures here.  This presentation will capture the approach and early findings from a peer-research study into the impact of COVID-19 on young people’s access to legal and social support and on their lives more generally- LOHST. It illustrates how contexts of ‘crisis’ can be generative of endeavours to reshape the immigration/ welfare landscape through collective voice and advocacy.

About the author: Elaine Chase is an Associate Professor in Education, Health Promotion and International Development at UCL Institute of Education. Elaine’s teaching and research focus on the sociological dimensions of health, wellbeing and rights of individuals and communities, particularly those most likely to experience marginalisation and exclusion. Elaine is particularly interested in the interface between policy, practice and context. Current research focuses on the wellbeing outcomes of children, young people and families subject to immigration control and on educational wellbeing in contexts of mass displacement.

Presentation 2: ‘Between waithood and alternative futures: children and young people on the move’

Dr Rachel Rosen, UCL Social Research Institute

Accounts of children and young people young people who have come to the UK on their own through precarious migration routes have aptly demonstrated that their futures are held hostage by a restrictive migration regime. Prolonged periods of uncertain waithood for regularised status, combined with anti-migrant sentiments in the UK’s hostile environment, can foreclose imaginaries of the future in what anthropologist Nicolas De Genova refers to as an ‘enforced presentism’.

In this paper, I do not dispute the detrimental effects of restrictive migration regimes on the futures of separated child migrants. Instead, in thinking with research data from Children Caring on the Move (CCoM), I seek to complicate such understandings. Heeding recent warnings not to collapse migrants into the temporality of waithood or futureless lives where regularised status in a national order is the route to a stable future, I attend to young migrants’ care for and about others while they wait. Doing so, I argue, provides insights not only into waithood and its afterlife, but reorients conceptualisations of young people’s future to the uneven possibilities and practices for imagining and constructing alternative futures.

About the author: Rachel Rosen is an Associate Professor at the UCL Social Research Institute. Her research focuses on the intersections of unequal childhoods, social reproduction, and migration in neoliberal border regimes. She co-leads the ESRC-funded Children Caring on the Move project.

This series is hosted by the UCL Centre for Global Youth and co-organised by Dr. Avril Keating (Director of the Centre), Dr Sazana Jayadeva (University of Cambridge) and Rachel Benchekroun (UCL-IOE). The series is funded by IOE International.

 “CGY Conversations with…” a series of interviews with youth researchers around the world

UCL Global Youth28 September 2020

COVID-19 has disrupted our usual research dissemination methods, and it has not been possible to host our usual seminars and workshops this year. But we didn’t want to miss out on hearing about all the amazing research that is taking place right now, and so we started a new initiative called “CGY Conversations with…”

As the name suggests, the “CGY Conversations with…” series involve us having conversations with youth researchers about their current research and their future research plans. The hope is that this format will be more informal than a research presentation webinar, but still informative. The interviews take place on Zoom and the recordings are posted on our Youtube channel.

Some recent highlights include:

  • Dr Sarah Pickard (Sciences Po) talking about youth environmental activism.
  • Professor Judith Bessant (RMIT) introducing her new book, Making-Up People: Youth, Truth & Politics
  • Dr Brett Lashua (IOE) talking about music, place, race and innovative research methodologies.
  • Dr Kieran Mitton (KCL) discussing youth gangs in Sierra Leone, Cape Town, Rio and London
  • Dr. Crystal Abidin (Curtain University) on the emergence of internet cultures and influencers
  • Dr. Sazana Jayadeva (Cambridge University) on the impact of COVID-19 on student migration aspirations.

To find out more, check out our Youtube channel.

Last updated: 19/04/2021

Mapping young lives: what are the spaces and places that young people use in coastal towns?

UCL Global Youth18 July 2019

By Rachel Benchekroun and Avril Keating

The initial discussions with the Year 10 students in Margate suggested that there were key areas of the town that young people did not feel were safe or accessible. To try to identify the spaces and places that young people do feel they can use, Rachel asked the students to draw maps of their town.

For this exercise, the students were given about 5 minutes to create a map to show where they go and where they feel safe. The maps they produced highlighted the different types and levels of mobility within the group.

Home – School – Home

Several students said they do not go anywhere other than walking from home to school and back; this was reflected in their maps, which either depicted just their bedroom or house, or represented their home and school and the trajectory between the two. Jessie (female, 14), for example, drew her house and the corner shop, showing her movements between the rooms of the house and to and from the shop, where she said she goes to buy crisps.

Meanwhile, Sam’s map consists of a plan of his bedroom (taking up just one small corner of the page), with an image of the TV and PlayStation that he uses for entertainment, and a table ‘where my chicken is’.

Jessie’s map

Sam’s map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tendency to stay so close to home can be explained in part by fact that contemporary teenagers spend more time in their homes than previous generations. Although they remain within the home, Ito et al (2009) argue that we should not automatically assume contemporary youth are more isolated; instead, they are often engaged in online forms of ‘hanging out’ that replicate the youth activities (e.g. chatting, gossiping, collaborating) that used to happen ‘offline’. However, while this may be true for Sam, Jessie told us she spends so much time at home because: I don’t have friends to go out with. […] I stay at my house. I don’t go anywhere.

In this town, another possible reason that young people spend so much time at home is that they felt that going out was unsafe. Parts of Margate are plagued by high rates of crime, and its young residents are particularly vulnerable to some of these criminal activities. As a result, it is perhaps no surprise that one student told us:

I do like Margate but […] I don’t feel safe. I stay at home unless I go out with my family, like once a month for the community activity. My mum says not to go out because there are gangs. […] I don’t go out. I stay at home.

Making local spaces their own

When the students do stray beyond home or school boundaries, they told us that they tend to hang out at cheap shops and supermarkets in the town centre (such as Aldi, Lidl and Poundstretchers) or the large retail park that was on the outskirts of town. This continues the long-standing tradition of teenagers hanging out on the high street, but it also reflects young people’s often limited resources, and their limited access to, and exclusion from, various forms of public spaces (Ito et al, 2009, Shaw et al, 2015).

These retail spaces are not targeted at young people, but the students were creative in their use of these places and found ways of making them their own. Lydia and Evangeline (14), for example, took great delight in co-producing a large picture of the local supermarket where they claimed to spend most of their time. Lydia explained: “it’s my favourite place. It’s my home away from home.”

Rachel: How often do you go there and why?

Lydia: I live there, it’s my house! [laughs]

Teacher: Do you hang out IN [the supermarket] or outside?

Lydia: Both.

Teacher: What about the security guy?

Lydia: We play ‘Double Double This This’ [a clapping game] with him.

Lydia and Evangeline are thus an example of young people claiming urban spaces through ‘playful encounter’ and creating ‘momentary micro-atmospheres of joy’ (Pyyry and Tani 2017, Pyyry 2016). As young people ‘hanging out’, they ‘take part in urban life and in the creation of its fleeting atmospheres. They are involved with places that are important to them and claim these as their own, even if just temporarily’ (Pyyry and Tani, 2017, p.12).

Tourist areas = not spaces for local youth?

Of course, Margate has lots of non-retail local amenities, and some of these were reflected in some of the students’ maps. In these maps, the key landmarks that were featured were the beach, Dreamland amusement park, and the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in the centre of Margate. Yet, while some of students did utilise these places, the subsequent discussion revealed that most did not.  The students’ more typical relationship with these places is reflected in Lydia and Rory’s discussion of the latter’s map:

Lydia: My dear friend, why do you enjoy visiting those places?

Rory: I don’t enjoy going to those places… I just put [them] there for effect. Turner, I never go. Sometimes I go to Ramsgate Fried Chicken. I visit Tivoli [area of Margate] quite often. I hang out there.

In short, these sites tended to be viewed as spaces for tourists, not for young people that live in the town.

What do the maps tell us about youth mobility?

The students’ maps indicate that most have low levels of geographical mobility, even within their own town. Most of the young people focused on the micro-scale, and the (very) local environment. The one exception to this was James who, in contrast to the others, drew a detailed map of the Thanet district, showing not only Margate but other towns in the region, with arrows towards other towns, including London. James even included a key along the side of the map, to indicate how often he visits them.

This geographically-rich map provided a striking contrast with the other maps, but as this was a pilot project, we did not have an opportunity to explore why James focused on his connections with the wider region, rather than with the local town as the others did. One avenue we would like to explore in the future is if his greater exposure to mobility indicated (a) an increased propensity to be more geographically mobile in the future and/ or (b) a greater likelihood of social mobility in the future. As Skrbis et al (2014) point out, mobility is now widely treated as a passport to a better future for young people. As a result, the dynamics of globalisation mean that, for this generation of young people anyway, geographical and social mobility are closely intertwined.

This project was funded by the UCL Grand Challenge small grant scheme in association with the UCL Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding. 

Image result for ucl grand challenges

Attachment to place: how do young people feel about their seaside town?

UCL Global Youth16 July 2019

By Rachel Benchekroun and Avril Keating

A recent House of Lords’ report outlined the wide range of challenges facing coastal communities and highlighted the short- and long-term impacts that these challenges can have on young lives.  What was less clear was how young people themselves feel about their growing up in these communities. This was one of the key questions we wanted to explore throughout our pilot project.

Coastal communities in crisis?

Since the 1960s, global integration and cheaper international travel have created pressures on traditional seaside resorts whose economies rely on tourism (Agarwal et al, 2018). These factors, compounded by the global economic crisis and subsequent austerity measures, have led to many seaside towns experiencing a significant fall in tourism as well as cuts to public services. While some seaside towns have managed to recover and find an alternative economic base, many have become ‘deep pockets of deprivation’ (Rickey and Houghton, 2009, p.47). They are characterized by ‘youth out-migration and inward migration of older people, high proportions of retirees and benefit claimants, transitory populations, physical isolation, poor-quality housing, over-reliance on tourism, seasonal employment, low incomes and pressure on services during the summer months’ (Burdsey, 2018, p.37). How is this experienced by young people?

Margate in Three Words

One of the ways we tried to capture young people’s views of their town was to ask them to describe it in three words. Their responses were, for the most part, negative. Typical phrases included: eccentric, drug-infested, loud, unsafe, dirty and chavvy. ‘Chavvy’ was mentioned multiple times, and when I asked what they meant by it, Aiden (male, 14) quipped, “council house and violent!” Lydia (female, 14), however, was more nuanced in her response: ‘That’s one definition. Everyone has their own definition of what they see a chav is. The easiest way to describe it is […] quite aggressive, speaks and does things in a certain way’.

“Trampy” was another suggestion with similar connotations. Ryan (male, 14), for example, offered “chavvy, trampy and different” as his three words to describe Margate. He explained that ‘trampy’ meant “full of tramps”, which in turn he defined as: “[people who] chuck rubbish and everything. They think they’re hard and everything.” Similarly, Craig’s (male, 15) view of Margate was that it was full of “drugs, poverty, [and] gangs… Crime is everywhere, drug-use is, you always see homeless people on the street, it’s everywhere.”

Craig’s perspective is corroborated by Thanet District Council’s recent report highlighting some of the biggest social challenges in the local area, including exploitation, drug and alcohol misuse, and crime and gang activity . Thanet is affected by drug gangs operating from London (‘county lines’) and the practice of ‘cuckooing’, where a dealer befriends a vulnerable person and takes over their property to deal from there. In addition, the Council has outlined concerns about increasing numbers of vulnerable young people placed in care in Thanet from other parts of the country, putting them at risk from the criminal activity in the local area.

These local characteristics have not gone unnoticed by the young people we talked to; many felt that parts of the town were dangerous and unsafe for young people like themselves. Paris (female, 14) emphasised her frustration with the noise and feeling unsafe:

“…it’s so loud I struggle to sleep at night. The area where I live is more near the seaside – there are quite a few people who hang around at night and think it’s okay to shout and sing loudly! And it’s even worse on Fridays! It’s unsafe, [although] I’m sure there are lots of parts of London that are more unsafe than here.”

When I asked the students if there was anywhere in particular that they felt unsafe, “Cliftonville!” was the consensus. As one of the most deprived areas in southern England, and the highest crime area in Thanet, Cliftonville is known for the high levels of transience, poor housing conditions and problems with overcrowded accommodation; 75% of private sector tenants are dependent on housing benefit. The students described feeling intimidated by “lots of people in massive groups”, referring to the area as “quite rowdy”.

More positive views…

Although the young people expressed mostly negative views of Margate, the students also expressed some positive views of their town. For example, while Evangeline agreed that Margate felt ‘unsafe’, she also emphasised ‘unique’ places like Dreamland amusement park, which is “quite funky and could – [it] used to be considered a tourist attraction, so it’s quite popular”. The theme park was not seen as being just for tourists: Linda (female, 14) said Dreamland is a ‘safe’ space for her:

“It’s a place where I feel like I can hang with people and I have things to do; not just sitting around doing nothing.”

And in a discussion about images of Margate, some also mentioned positive things about the ‘nicer’ parts of town (“the old town is actually nice”)  and the beach that lies at the heart of the town (“I go to the beach – in the summer I’m there practically every other day”).  Many of the students (and one of the teachers) also drew my attention to Margate’s ethnic diversity, which was agreed to be an asset.

Ismet (male, 15) described Margate as ‘welcoming’ and ‘busy’, relating his observations to the tourist industry. But the tourism can also have its downsides during the summer. Rory (male, 15) described Margate as ‘crowdy’ when it’s warm:

“If you go to Dreamland, especially this season, or if it’s just warm in Margate, the beaches will literally be full, and you will have to oom! [mimes using elbows] [others laugh] They are full! Crowdy.”

In short, the students’ first instinct was to highlight the negative attributes of Margate, and their descriptions and discussions suggested that there are key areas in this town that young people do not feel are safe or accessible. In the next blog post, we explore the spaces and places that young people in Margate do use and consider the implications this has for their future mobility plans.

This project was funded by the UCL Grand Challenge small grant scheme in association with the UCL Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding. 

Image result for ucl grand challenges