Young people to have their say on safety, inequality and poverty

Merseyside Hope Hack - 12-24year olds explore what a fairer society looks like

Dozens of young people will put forward their ideas and solutions on some of Merseyside’s biggest issues to the region’s Police Commissioner and her Violence Reduction Partnership tomorrow (Saturday 4th March).

The Merseyside ‘Hope Hack’ is bringing young people from across the region together to give them a platform to discuss how they would tackle key societal issues, such as poverty and inequality, community safety, racism and division and mental and physical wellbeing.

Taking place at the University of Liverpool, approximately 80 young people aged between 14 and 24 and from schools, colleges and youth organisations from across Merseyside, will take part in a series of creative and interactive workshops focused on hope.

These workshops will outline the change young people from across Merseyside would like to see to make our region a safer and fairer place to live and grow up in.

The event will be attended by Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell, and representatives from her Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), who will listen to their views and use their feedback to inform their response to the big challenges facing the region.

The PCC will be joined by two inspirational speakers; Efe Ezekiel, a youth mentor and founder of Ushine Ishine, and author Khan Odita, who founded Mulgrave Street Action Group CIC.

A number of ‘Children’s Champions’ will also help to lead the day, supporting the young people who are taking part, while also committing to promote and amplify the views of the young people within their own organisations across the region.

The Merseyside Hope Hack is supported by the Hope Collective, a grass-roots organisation which was formed in partnership with the Damilola Taylor Trust and a wide range of other public and voluntary bodies. It follows similar events in London, Manchester, the Midlands and Glasgow.

The region-wide event this weekend follows a series of ‘mini-hacks’ concentrating on each of the individual topics held in different areas of Merseyside.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Merseyside’s Hope Hack is all about giving young people from across our region a platform they might not normally have to put forward their ideas and solutions on some of the biggest challenges facing our communities.

“I want to hear their opinions and views on critical issues including safety, inequality, and poverty because I’m committed to building a fairer, stronger, safer Merseyside which works for everyone.

“Events like this are also vital in supporting young people to know they have a voice, that their views will be listened to and there are positive opportunities for them to make a difference on the issues that matter most to them.”

Youth mentor Efe Ezekiel said: “Hope Hack is going to be a transformative, educational and powerful day. I am so excited to be able to be part of inspiring the fantastic young people of Merseyside and supporting them in finding positive solutions to change their lives and many other young people all over the nation.”

Khan Odita, who is the winner of the 2022 LCR Award for Student Inspiration, added: "Hope Hack is an amazing opportunity providing young people with the platform they need to share their voice, be heard and have their ideas considered. Its giving young change makers like myself an opportunity to unite, find common ground and build capability to improve what the future will look like for us, the young people. So thrilled to be taking part.”

Geraldine O’Driscoll, Temporary Director of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, said: “We put the voice of young people at the front and centre of all the programmes and campaigns we deliver, and their views have led us to new topics and certainly new approaches in the recent past.

“Our surveys also reveal that young people sometimes have differing concerns than the rest of society, that are equally valid.

“The Hope Hack offers young people another opportunity to speak-up with the added guarantee that they will be listened to by decision makers. If we want to empower young people and make sure they do not feel disenfranchised when it comes to their future, we must encourage them to come along, take an interest and be the difference.”

The Hope Collective was established in 2020 to help keep Damilola Taylor’s legacy alive and to inspire hope in new generations of young people, giving them opportunities to have a voice in how to make society fairer and safer.

They held their first youth voice events in 2021 and in the last two years have given hundreds of young people across England Wales a platform to discuss the issues and inequalities that they face growing up today and what they wanted to see changed for their futures.

Professor Niven Rennie, the Executive Chairman of Hope Collective said: “Delighted seeing the great work coming together on Merseyside and excited to see the Hope Hacks engaging the young people of Liverpool.

“During my time as Director of the Scottish VRU we were always energised working directly with young people to hear their views on what solutions looked like and I’m sure the Liverpool Hope Hack will be a fantastic success”

About Merseyside's VRP

In total, 20 Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) have been established across England and Wales to help deliver the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy to tackle knife and gun crime and homicide.

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) lead on commissioning these multi-agency units in their areas, bringing together strategic partners to deliver system-wide interventions to prevent and reduce crime.

In Merseyside, we renamed our unit to the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) because we believe the word ‘partnership’ reflects the way we work and approach this challenge.

The VRP brings together Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, local government, National Probation Service and the county’s Youth Offending Service, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners.