Newham Youth Map: a new digital resource for young people
By Caroline Francis, on 17 March 2021
This blog post is part of a new series exploring what UCL Community Engagement work has looked like during the Covid-19 pandemic. The article has been written by Mariana Faty Embalo and Irshad Chutoo who share their experiences of creating Newham Youth Map with Leah Lovett and Duncan Hay from UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.
The project was supported with funding from UCL Culture and UCL East as part of Listen and Respond.
Firstly, Irshad Chutoo discusses his experience of participating in the Newham Youth Map project with Tom Bailey from Youth Empowerment.
Can you tell us about the project?
The Newham Youth Map was created by a group of young people that included people from Youth Empowerment, HeadStart and Fight for Peace and UCL. We made it so that organisations and young people could have a map to share and discover all the activities that are happening around Newham.
The process was a series of meetings with Duncan [Hay] and Leah [Lovett], and we used a mapping program designed by Duncan. Throughout the whole 8 weeks of the project, we learnt about the history of mapping, how to use the software, how to upload information, and how to train other people to upload information too. I enjoyed learning about how digital maps work and how Duncan developed the Memory Mapper software so that it could be successful.
We had individual tasks that we had to do to upload information about the different areas of Newham. Some people looked at organisations in Stratford, or Ilford Park. We created different themes – so parks, youth groups, different types of organisations.
At the end of project, we decided a logo. Ada [Jusic] helped us create a storyboard of the whole process.
Why did you want to be involved?
I heard about it during one of the voluntary sessions. I was already doing IT and networking stuff, so had a bit of knowledge around digital maps and creating blogs, really anything digital related, so it was on the lines of the career that I want to get.
What did you learn from the project?
I enjoyed working with other young people and helping to design a Newham Youth Map that people can now use. I learnt how to coordinate with other people, and to improve my different types of skills.
You led on parts of the training for other adults. How did you find that?
That was very informative – it will really help me in the future when I need to deliver presentations to companies and directors. It gave me a first idea of how to deliver a presentation in front of a whole team. There were more than ten people during the training, from both youth organisations and the council.
Has participating in this project had any longer-term impact?
Actually, yes – for my university course now, it really helped me. I’m supposed to be delivering and co-designing a presentation next week for the UEL module leaders. Having this experience helped me understand how to do that and the types of questions that might be asked. It helped me develop my skillset in speaking and presenting.
In the past, I’ve presented in front of teachers, but this was a different level. Presenting to different organisations with different aims, we needed to think about how to deliver that information to move the project on.
Is there anything else you want to add?
What I found interesting is how, because the youth map is visual, Leah came over to a volunteering session to discuss accessibility issues with me and Yousef. She listened to our access needs and relayed them to Duncan. We picked out key accessibility issues for people using screen readers, and we fixed them together. Duncan created a text-based version of the site with an enlarge button to enable people to increase the size the text.
The map is useful to young people because, in Newham, all the activities are not usually put out. Young people can go onto this map, select whatever field they want, and easily see what is going on in their own area. We discussed how it’s different from other maps. For example, Google maps doesn’t highlight accessibility, but here, we included a voice description that can read out information about the venues.
Next up, Mariana reflects on what she’s got out of the project…
To adventure into software design and marketing with no experience seems a bit worrying at first however the UCL researchers will assist you every step of the way as they did for me. The Newham Youth Map was made by UCL researchers and different youth empowerment organisations from Newham with an intention of helping young people in Newham in finding activities during their spare time e.g., summer holidays. I did research on some youth organisations around Newham and inputted the information in the Newham Youth Map.
The thing I like the most about this project is everything. From promoting the map to multiple youth organisations, to building a software map from scratch is quite a journey which is packed and filled with useful and adaptable skills. Along the way of this amazing experience is the great team of individuals from youth organisations whom I didn’t know before. The accolade of working with people alike sets the creative atmosphere.
Taking part in this project has made an impact for me in expanding valuable skills I will take with me for the future, such as, productivity in writing emails, active communication via online in addition learning to create a software which is easy to use for our targeted audience.
I would recommend for anyone to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.
The Newham Youth Map was co-created through a partnership between One Newham, Youth Empowerment, HeadStart, Fight for Peace and the Connected Environments Lab from The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. The map is maintained by the London Borough of Newham. The project was funded by UCL Engagement and UCL East through a Listen and Respond grant.