FORTY young people from across the borough joined the Develop Croydon Conference as part of an engaging and informative Youth Summit.
Titled “Generation Croydon”, the overall theme of this year’s conference was how the town’s ongoing regeneration will cater for all ages – both young and the old.
Sponsored by the Whitgift Foundation, the Youth Summit – involving pupils, aged 15-18, from Trinity School, Old Palace School, Croydon College and Coulsdon College as well as teenagers from OnSide Youth Zone – was designed to discover what the younger generations wanted from the future of their home borough.
The group were split into four round-table discussions, looking at culture, housing, workplace and infrastructure, and encouraged to pinpoint key points in each category by a team of facilitators, including: James Rogers, Community Manager, Hammerson; Hannah Durling, Community Manager, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield; Neil Chandler, Venue Director, BH Live Fairfield Halls; Harry Richards, Graduate Surveyor, SHW; Tom Lane, Head of London Region Community Development, Optivo; Katharine Glass, Director, White Label Creative and John McEntee and Ben Craig, from Network Rail.
The findings concluded:
The youngsters main concern were safety and affordability. They all agreed that they would like a central area in the town centre that they could come together. They thought events and activities could be better advertised through social media, to give them a clearer idea of what was happening and when it was on.
Concerns again involved affordability and the perception of the crime around the town. Some of the youngsters said they had now accepted they wouldn’t be able to afford to buy a home and would have to rent. They also said they would like to see some more green spaces added around the town to make it a brighter, healthier environment to bring up families.
Data-free apps with travel times and information and a reliable service were the youngsters’ main hopes for the future of infrastructure in the town. It was also highlighted that better cycle lanes should be introduced across the town centre to introduce more bikes and reduce pollution.
The main issue in the workplace was that the youngsters felt they didn’t know enough about the jobs that were already available in the town. They said there was a real lack of awareness of what companies were already based in Croydon. “I walk past these big buildings and I don’t have a clue who works there, my dream job could be right here under my nose!” explained one pupil.
Conference Chairman Mark Easton, the BBC’s Home Editor, joined the session for the closing stages to hear the youngster’s findings and then fed them back to the main conference hall to draw the day to a close.
“The young people need to know more about what is in their home town,” he told the attendees. “They need to know more about all the amazing employers here already. That would be a big help going forward and help make that connection much clearer.
“Croydon is a fantastic place and has changed dramatically over the past few years but it needs to stay ahead of the pack now. This place has so much going for it and you need to let the younger generations know that to ensure the future is even brighter.”