May 2024: The Transformative Power of Youth-Focused Programs

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At May 2024's MKBLP Members’ Breakfast Briefing event, Jenifer Cameron, CEO of Action4Youth, captivated the audience with a powerful message about the intersection between youth development and the business community. Her insights not only underscored the significant impact of youth-focused programmes but also highlighted the vital role businesses can play in nurturing the next generation of business leaders.

Action4Youth provides a myriad of programmes designed to support over 25,000 young people annually across Milton Keynes, Buckingham, and beyond. These programmes are designed to be inclusive, catering to youths of all backgrounds, abilities, and socio-economic statuses, ensuring that no one is left behind.

At the heart of Jenifer’s presentation to members was the charity’s Inspiration Programme, a shining example of how targeted initiatives can build aspirations and equip young people with essential life and employability skills.

The Inspiration Programme was created out of a pressing need identified by a diverse group of business leaders, educators, and community stakeholders. Too often, young people leave education ill-prepared for the realities of working life. The programme addresses this gap by helping youths from all walks of life find positive routes forward. Whether they are involved in knife crime with no apparent path out or come from privileged backgrounds where everything has been handed to them, the programme fosters independence, leadership skills, and teamwork—qualities that are indispensable in any workforce.

Bringing her points to life, Jenifer shared success stories including how the programme supported an academically gifted 17-year-old first-generation immigrant who, despite having little life experience, was able to apply to Oxford University to study medicine. This young man attributed his newfound confidence and ability to articulate his aspirations in his interview and personal statement to a year-long Inspiration Programme and the local business experiences it facilitated.

“Businesses can play a pivotal role in shaping the future workforce. The skills these young people acquire through our programmes are precisely what employers look for—resilience, problem-solving abilities, and a collaborative spirit,” commented Jenifer.

Jenifer also shared exciting developments, including the Junction in High Wycombe, a multi-service drop-in youth centre that has led to a significant decline in anti-social behaviour within the town, and her hopes for a similar initiative in Milton Keynes.

There were also calls for supporting the renovation of the George Amey Centre at the Caldecotte Xperience. The facility, which offers outdoor adventure and educational activities that challenge young people and build their confidence, is currently part of an ongoing £1.4 million appeal to be remodelled into an accessible, state-of-the-art centre. Jenifer pointed out that, while Action4Youth is halfway to reaching its financial goal, more support is needed.

Youth-focused programs like those run by Action 4 Youth are transformative. They not only prepare young people for the future but also ensure that communities will be led by well-rounded, capable individuals. Businesses have a unique opportunity to contribute to this mission, creating a ripple effect that benefits society as a whole.