The concept of youth-friendly cities is becoming more and more visible, but groups such as adolescents and/or young ethnic minorities are still overlooked in the city-making process. Recent research has shown that almost 80% of UK youth have never been consulted on the future of their neighbourhoods despite wanting to be involved in the process. The risk of making assumptions or excluding their voices from urban and policy debates is a reality.
While everyone has been impacted by Covid-19, young Londoners from dense urban areas, marginalised communities or minority backgrounds have been especially vulnerable. Therefore, it is important to better understand their relationship with the city during the pandemic to recognise how their experiences and desires might have changed over the last year.
Young people are mainly visible at the moment as numbers through statistics or targeted consultations. Bringing young voices to the forefront of urban policy decisions needs to happen in a more inclusive way in which young people can become co-creators of London’s recovery post-Covid. Young people are true citizen experts. Their familiarity with the neighbourhoods they have grown up or reside in can bring valuable perspectives to any city-making process. Their stories, lived experiences and observations of everyday life can be fundamental to help plan neighbourhoods that are designed to respond to young people’s needs.
This is why Jane’s Walk London, with support from The Academy of Urbanism, created YOU(TH)scapes as a way to give young Londoners a platform to make their stories more visible and help shape a more youth-friendly London.