Young on Hackney estates encouraged to create their own resident’s groups

Nightingale estate is one of Hackney’s largest council estates. Pic: Malc McDonald

Plans to introduce new “young people’s residents’ groups” to estates around Hackney are underway following recommendations of a youth led commission. The first residents’ groups will be organised on Nightingale Estate in Hackney Downs. It will have its own budget allocated by the council to organise activities for young people on the estate.

The plan was proposed after a yearlong consultation with over 2,400 Hackney residents between the ages 10-25 as part of the Hackney Young Futures commission.

The commission – chaired and led by young Hackney residents themselves –  was funded by the council in order to better understand the borough’s youngest demographic, who make up over a quarter of its population.

“Young people want to be part of the opportunities that regeneration is creating, [but] they’re not involved in it and they’re not asked to contribute,” Rohney Saggar-Malik, a project leader for the commission, told EastLondonLines.

The commission’s  initial report, released last month, found that many young Hackney residents are worried by gentrification and are feel increasingly alienated from their communities. Establishing a young people’s resident groups to Hackney’s largest estates is meant to counteract that.

Resident groups are already common across council estates in the UK. However, as Saggar-Malik points out they often have little to offer to the youth.

“What we predominantly find is that these resident groups are normally over fifties, they’re white, there are no young people, and they’re organising activities for that group. And when they are organising activities for young people, it’s usually a much younger age group, and they’re not doing any consultations to find out what young people would like,” Saggar-Malik explained.

The new resident groups aim to change Hackney’s estates to better reflect the needs of young people. This includes community centres, which the commission found are often inaccessible to children and young people.

 “Young people are saying ‘it’s great but we don’t get any access to them [the community centres]. They’re either closed every day at 8 o’clock. They’re not open on the weekends. The people who manage it won’t allow any young people’s activities’ … They’re saying ‘why can’t we have our wifi at the community centres so we can go and do homework clubs, job clubs,’” Saggar-Malik said. She explained that the coronavirus pandemic exposed the extent of digital poverty in Hackney, highlighting the need to provide young people with safe areas where they can access internet.

The pilot scheme will be delivered on Nightingale Estate over the next six months, if it proves successfully, it will be extended to other neighbourhoods and estates around Hackney.

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