Camberwell & Peckham Conservatives organise debate on youth poverty

After the summer riots last year, many reasons have been put forward for the eruption but the conversation needs to go on. We have to be able to talk about how we all get what we need and to discuss, debate and think about how we do it in ways that recognize that one-size does not fit all.

This is why Camberwell and Peckham Conservative Association has started what will be an ongoing conversation. Our first debate on 'youth and poverty’ began the series that will cover subjects specific to the inner-city constituencies such as health, immigration, housing and much more.

Our first panel of speakers: Maria Miller MP, Minister at the Department of Work and Pensions, whose portfolio includes youth and disability, Jennifer Izekor, Director of the apprenticeship company Dare2Achieve, Rosie Ferguson, the newly appointed Director of UK Youth, and Lindsay Burn from Kids Company each gave a different view of youth and poverty.

Lindsay is at the coalface of youth poverty and the cases described to the audience painted a picture of violence within and outside families leading to homelessness and consequent poverty. Ms Izekor is concerned that young people had lost the ability to dream: “poverty of aspiration meant young people did not believe in their own ambitions”.

Rosie is concerned that there was a lack of co-ordination in the youth services on offer and scarcity of networks bridging the divide between rich and poor.

Maria reminded us of the measures the government was putting in place to reduce some of the problems but admit that they could not accomplish it all without the help of the organisations represented on the panel. The Government has created nearly a half a million more apprenticeships, plus the work program and Maria hoped that harnessing the skills of retired professionals would assist the delivery of government initiatives for social mobility; and of course education secretary Michael Gove's reforms to improve the education system will bring some relief to these problems but not in the short term.

At the heart of it all however, young people need to take some positive control of these processes and families need to encourage and support their aspirations. Everyone agreed that without a families base, it will take much longer to defeat this hierarchy of poverty.