Back to the Future – Common Futures Forum 2018
In a climate of political uncertainty, never before has youth political engagement been so integral in the upkeep of British democracy and its continuation as a platform for voice, justice and advocacy. The Common Futures Forum (CFF) aimed and succeeded at fulfilling this need by providing a space for debate, conversation and networking. The event, hosted by My Life My Say (MLMS) at Plexal Park in Hackney, featured speakers from all aspects of public life, including David Lammy MP, Alistair Campbell and Afua Hirsch, among others. Each speaker shared their experiences in politics as well as the importance of engagement and activism in the youth community of the UK, while engaging audiences with personal stories about their own experience facing political backlash, discrimination, and adversity.
The CFF commenced with an inspiring speech by Steven Kinnock MP, leader of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Better Brexit for Young People (APPG-BBYP), in which he highlighted the importance of young people’s engagement in politics. He set the mood for the rest of the day’s events by reminding the public that the UK has a bright future if those that care about today’s issues come forth and fight for what they believe in. After this, Jennifer Jackson-Preece, lecturer at London School of Economics (LSE), shared the results of the Building Bridges: A Youth Vision for a Common Future After Brexit report, in which MLMS and LSE collaborated in an effort to find out what young people in the UK and across Europe wanted to see after Brexit.
What followed were several Lab Sessions in which attendees had the opportunity to participate in active discussions with experts on a variety of topics. Sessions such as How to Create a Movement brought in speakers with experience and knowledge on grassroots initiatives, while the session on Democracy: In Critical Need of an Update had lively conversations about how our political system needs to adapt to the fundamental changes we see in society on a daily basis. After some intense discussion on the subject, a quick lunch break allowed attendees to let off some steam before moving on to the next activity.
What followed was a lively conversation between Nissy Tee and David Lammy MP, in which David shared many of his experiences attempting to break into the world of politics and answered questions about his 18-year career as a Member of Parliament for the constituency of Tottenham. After another quick break over tea and coffee, a second round of lab sessions took place. In The Future of the Tech Sector, speakers and attendees discussed the need for tech companies to adapt to a changing political and social landscape, while the Rebalancing Britain’s Economy Post Brexit session dealt with the important issue of understanding how future generations will be able to thrive economically after leaving the EU.
After these important discussions, everyone gathered to hear Alistair Campbell, famed journalist and politician, speak about the importance of maintaining mental health as a priority both in the political and personal sphere. He answered some hard-hitting questions about his struggles with mental health while working as a broadcaster. What followed was a truly hilarious send-off by London Hughes, where she put a smile on attendees’ faces by explaining her perspective as a young black woman in entertainment in a truly unique and comedic style.
All in all, the CFF was, in its essence, a space for different ideas and perspectives to come together and grow together; for people from all walks of life to understand each other in this divisive time, and for us to find common ground as Brits, Europeans, and people.
Photo Credit: @James_Briefel (Instagram)