As the first Solidarity Project to commence activities in the UK, Sailing the Mayflower to Equality & Justice has recently launched a youth-led campaign called FRED promoting fairness, respect, equality and dignity.
This 12-month project, run by a group of young people in Rotherhide, southeast London, aims to enhance community cohesion and integration.
Six months on, we caught up with Laura de Nuzzo and Desirée Noriega, two members from the youth management board, to see how they’ve been learning the ropes.
Solving challenges together
The project started in May, and the group has reached two milestones since then, creating and designing a new website, as well as launching an online art competition.
In Solidarity Projects like this, young people can get the support of an organisation. The Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) International Institute, for example, supports Sailing the Mayflower to Equality & Justice.
Six young people are currently managing the project, aiming to reach 100 people, including participants, competition contestant and stakeholders. Communicating the project to these different audiences has been the most challenging aspect for Laura. Her solution is to ask herself what kind of message the recipient would be interested in.
‘Designing a website for a youth competition requires a different communication style to the one used to approach sponsors for prizes and other local organisations for participants. It requires a more engaging, interactive and dynamic style, to reflect the youth-led methodology of the project. A more precise, formal and professional is used to approach sponsors and other organisations,’ says Laura.
The main challenge for Desirée was how to organise the online competition.
‘Drafting and agreeing on the terms of the awards, the number of prizes and how to handle submissions has been a challenge. I found out that the best way to overcome this is by sharing ideas and doubts with the team. We can support and help each other.’
Celebrating young people’s creativity
Desirée admits she felt nervous about starting her own project. She had volunteered previously, but had never done anything like this before.
‘Thanks to the support of everyone around me, the task was a lot less daunting,’ she says.
Although Laura has some experience in project management as an intern, she saw the project as a great opportunity to develop a broad set of skills.
‘As a newly graduated young person, I’ve found that running this project has been an amazing opportunity to grasp what it means to concretely implement a project in its entirety. I have learned how to work as part of a team, how to build and design a website, how to approach sponsors and funding organisations and how to recruit participants – I know there is much more yet to come,’ she says.
‘I’ve found that running this project has been an amazing opportunity to grasp what it means to concretely implement a project in its entirety.’
The project has also launched a new e-course for young people on how to undertake youth-led research in order to inform and influence social policy. Submissions are now open for the competition. Currently, the team are networking and liaising with local organisations to promote the project, and recruit participants and sponsors for prizes.
‘We will need to start engaging more directly with young people through social media and in person, so that they know that there is a project that will celebrate their creativity and give them a platform to voice their views in a more public forum,’ remarks Desirée.
In the next phase of the project, the team will engage in two main activities:
- handling submissions and deciding the winners for each category, following the awards guidelines they previously agreed upon; and
- writing the report to be published at the end of the project.
The inspiration for the project title came from the upcoming 400th anniversary of the Mayflower setting sail from Rotherhide, taking the first migrants to America, in 1620.
While raising awareness of local history, the group seeks to help young people in developing their skills, by motivating them to participate in a competition that could increase their visibility.