Press Office


Ideas that make a difference


Creative young thinkers have been recognised by the University for ideas that could help shape future government policy.

The Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal organised a General Election Manifesto competition, which was open to all staff and students.
Entrants were asked to offer imaginative proposals, based on evidence, that related to the Social Renewal challenge of how individuals, communities and societies can thrive when faced with rapid, transformational change.

Along with a £1,000 prize for the winner and £200 for each of the runners-up, the successful students are being offered mentoring support to help turn their ideas into policy documents to send to the political parties ahead of the 2015 General Election.

Tackling the effects of child poverty and inequality is the driver behind winner Jonathan Mayes’ idea to set up New Youth Clubs UK. A kind of ‘SureStart for teenagers’, these would be community-based ‘safe spaces’ promoting health, education, community spirit and social awareness while also offering regular role models and mentors. A kitchen would also be a key element to provide nutritious food and drama and exercise classes would encourage better mental health and overall healthier lifestyles.

“The UK needs to adopt a more child-centred approach to tackling problems in society,” he said. “Youth organisations need to be modernised and improved and this is the way to do it.”

Runner-up Rebecca Prescott has carried out extensive background research into her topic of internships and interns. She is asking for an Internship Contract or code of practice which will help graduates and companies have realistic expectations of what an intern can achieve within a certain timescale, as well as offering them clarity regarding their role.

“The introduction and enforcement of an Internship Contract has the potential to benefit young people gaining experience and skills in and outside of the creative sector by providing clarity in structure, delivery and remuneration,” she explains.

Danny Dickinson, another of the runners-up, is looking to increase public participation in local democracy through his Local Policy Forums idea. These forums would be able to commission their own work and help bring about efficiency in local public services. “In order to thrive, local communities will need to facilitate civic engagement as well as maximising individual potential,” he says.

published on: 13 December 2013