Sound Connections (Spotlight Project)

What is your project about? How long has it been running?
Sound Connections is developing a new ‘Young Londoners Music Council’ (YLMC) as a way for young Londoners from all backgrounds with a passion for music to communicate their thoughts, ideas and opinions about music making, and to lead in creating new activities and events.

Describe your role on the project?
I am the YLMC coordinator – Laura Gribbon; working part-time for Sound Connections. My role is to recruit and support council members, as well as to feedback to funders (London Councils and Youth Music) and partners on our achievements and learning.

What is the aim of your project?
The aim is to provide a space for young Londoners to have their say on how Sound Connections and our partners (3000+ music projects) fund and deliver music projects across London, as well as to run workshops and consultation sessions with other young Londoners; signpost young Londoners to events and music services, and campaign for gaps in services.

The YLMC will also provide its members with opportunities to  - meet other young Londoners who are passionate about music, from a variety of backgrounds across London; be exposed to new cultural expressions and musical genres; gain skills in events organising and public speaking, and learn how to market and run a campaign.

How are children and young people involved in your project?
There are currently 31 YLMC members (13-21yrs) from across London. By March next year, we aim to have 60 members (1 or 2 from each London Borough) on board, with a core group of 15-20 members and sub-groups working on different campaigns and events.

What has been the key outcomes/ learning from the project so far?
YLMC members have been involved in

• 4 full council meetings at different music venues across London.
• Making and editing a short film, as part of the Rhythm of London festival
• Performing at a ‘Youth Music Mentors’ network sharing event at Lati-Ri in East London.
• Running a day of workshops (‘Aspire’) on the Music Industry and performance skills, culminating in a performance in front of a panel of industry professionals, as part of Youth Music week.
• A mayoral consultation session at the O2 arena.
• A National event showcasing talent – ‘Talent Matters’, at the Tramshed in East London, as part of Shine 2009 week.
• Selecting and recruiting a web design company to work with members on the branding and design of a new YLMC website.

The key learning for the project has been the need for flexibility in recruiting and maintaining the interest of council members and getting everyone together centrally for meetings. We have used Facebook, online blogs, doodle polls, email, texts, video, presentations, gigs and a number of other ways to consult with members and enable them to inform the work of the council. Many of our members have extremely busy lives – juggling work, school, college, uni, local youth groups, and in one case – running their own radio show, so flexibility has been key.

Also – ensuring members get their transport refunded and paying expenses wherever possible, as well as adding extra incentives for members wherever possible – discounts in venues and at gigs, and free food!

What are the key success factors of the project?
Going out to different boroughs to give presentations on the YLMC and lead workshops and events that capture the interest of young people.

Sound Connections’ relationships with 3000 member organisations, and contacts through other programs that we manage, such as Youth Music Mentors and Music Leader.

What have been the key benefits of the project to young people?
Getting to meet one another, access to new music venues through meetings and events, and experience of recruiting and branding.

What barriers have you experienced when setting up and delivering the project and how were they overcome?
Getting in touch with youth participation workers in all London boroughs was challenging. Different boroughs have different structures, and no one seems to have a concise list of who to contact. Also, getting workers who were already stretched to promote the YLMC in their own boroughs was tricky - some did and some didn’t.

We have found that asking to deliver a workshop or present at a youth centre or youth council meeting in individual boroughs has been the most effective way of recruiting, as well as being more creative about ways of publicising the council – through volunteer centres and smaller arts based and outreach based initiatives.

In your opinion, what has been the most significant thing about this project in terms of engaging children and young people to participate in decision-making/ have their say?
Getting members to voice their opinions hasn’t been the challenge to date. Developing the right networks for them to influence decision-making London wide is an ongoing challenge for us. Rebecca Palmer at the GLA, and Umar Kankiya from UKYP, were both extremely helpful early on in networking us in to Regional groups and providing us with the right contacts.

If you could give your top tip to anyone who wants to develop a project in this area what would it be?
Be creative, and prepared to invest time and energy in selecting and maintaining the interest of your members.

Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth AgencyNCB