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  • Writer's pictureSami Gichki

Youth Empowerment: Building Bridges Across Generations for Societal Impact

The iWill Movement is all about giving power to the youth - We strive for a society where young people are able to drive and influence change - whether hyperlocal and within their communities, to the corridors of power and national policy. Ultimately, a vision for a world where young people have seats at the table and are able to share power in decision-making spaces.

To me, intergenerational is about omitting age altogether and working together. Intergenerational is the reciprocal relationship of learning I share with my mentors, me as a young person being able to hold my ground and challenge opinions on boards knowing they will be heard, it's a Saturday Parkrun! Intergenerational stretches beyond just the numbers that we use to define age - it's a way of working and creating something together by acknowledging our generational differences; yet embracing them to create something beautiful together.

Here at iWill, youth voice and leadership is prioritised and sought out as many places of power omit the voices of young people - though our Power of Youth charter signatories are pledging to commit to changing this, their numbers are still in the hundred and there are thousands of organisations out there that could still be doing more. One of the ways we take into account intergenerational thinking is through our wider work; our place based approach acts as a vessel for intergenerational working within the context of a community. It needs to be a collective effort to truly allow power to be shared with young people equitably. The different generations hold the different keys to opening the different doors to drive change for the better.

Though we do it so often that for us it's normalised - it's all about a relational approach - building the relationships, instilling dialogue, building trust; it all lies in the reciprocity. If you do all of these you automatically foster intergenerational connections. Sometimes this needs to be facilitated in present society as generations may not necessarily cross paths naturally as often. As an example, we do this through our hackathons. Our Ipswich hackathon was entirely planned and delivered by young people for stakeholders within the community. A model which isn't new, yet has the power to deliver as it puts young people at the steering wheel, letting them take the power to influence and inform the change they want to see.

In what ways do you believe intergenerational practice contributes to societal wellbeing and cohesion?

Breaking the stereotypes. I for one see the stark contrast between the power of our ambassador community - how each and every young person is driving meaningful change within their communities, and the stereotypes that are glued to our generation. Stereotypes exist but intergenerational working will help break them.

iWill takes into intergenerational connection across the board. I co-chair the movement alongside Dame Julia - receive support from the teams where age doesn't even act as a barrier as the organisational structure forces these relationships to be built on trust and reciprocity. There's the Youth Leadership Network and the cohorts of ambassadors, who reflect the range of differences within a few generations alone. Though we focus on youth voice and leadership; intergenerational working comes naturally to the movement, with allies paving the way for young people to embrace their power.

The key ingredient when it comes to all of it is trust - people cannot trust if they are not trusted; without trust progress stays stagnant, but with it there will always be growth.


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