Gales view - 25th June 2013
At the end of last week we celebrated the nineteenth TryAngle Awards presentations for East Kent (Canterbury, Thanet and Swale). The event was hosted, excellently, by students from Herne Bay High School and I`d like, immediately, to say a huge thank you to Jade Blackmer, Luke Davies and Hollie Ferrett for the self-deprecating good humour and skill with which they negotiated the elephant traps that are inevitably built into any such evening.
These young people epitomise the purpose behind TryAngle, which is to recognise the fact that while there is a tiny minority of adolescents that hit the headlines for all of the wrong reasons of anti-social behaviour there is an overwhelming majority that is getting on with their lives, having fun and achieving great things.
Nineteen years ago TryAngle was launched, very tentatively, during a school lunch hour at the lecture theatre at Pfizer, Sandwich. It was the brainchild of a senior social worker, Jan Askew, and a senior Youth Officer, Bill Butler. I was present to hand out one of the awards which were accompanied by a generous banquet of crisps and Cola! Now, the scheme covers the whole county in four separate presentations and we gather in the autumn for The Spirit of TryAngle awards. The TryAngle Foundation, of which I am currently the Chairman, recognises the arts, music, sport and outdoor activities, volunteering and service to the community, young carers, personal development, the environment and personal bravery. We have heard, over the years and from the four corners of the County, tales that have made us weep and tales that have made us roar with laughter. We have learned of astonishing courage, matter-of-fact dedication to tasks of caring that would leave many adults at the starting gate and significant contributions to the life of our Towns. We have also seen some of tomorrow`s stars – like this year`s young paraplegic athlete who will, given his determination, almost certainly participate in the next Olympics – and we have enjoyed spectacular performances by singers and dancers such as the Herne Bay High School Boys` Dance Company who also took part in the programme
Our comperes for last week`s Awards Ceremony all attend Herne Bay Youth Centre, they sit on the School Youth Forum and they take a keen interest in Kent Youth County Council. Which brings me back to Jade Blackmer.
Jade took the trouble to call to see me recently to discuss the promotion of KYCC`s Certified Employer” proposal .It is neither a fashionable nor politically correct view but I have always been of the opinion that we should not be overly concerned by the fact that young people are not interested in politics and that many do not exercise the right to vote even when they turn eighteen. Party politics, which is, of course, what most politicians think of when they discuss the subject, is of small interest to people who are rightly concerned with causes” (animal welfare, human right, developing countries, the environment) rather than whether a rosette is red or blue or yellow. Jade Blackmer`s Certified Employer scheme is, though, mainstream politics and I think estimable in its` objectives.
The programme seeks to recruit employers who sign up to the idea that young people deserve fair treatment and employment rights in the working environment. The scheme is designed to bridge the gap between employers and young workers and to raise the game; companies want the brightest and the best and those with bronze, silver or gold certification are most likely to attract the cream of the crop. It`s an interesting concept. We tend to assume that the job application and interviewing process is a one-way traffic and that in an age of high youth unemployment it is a buyers` market. That should not prevent socially responsible employers from signing up and making it known that they have faith in the kind of young people that, dare I say it, TryAngle has been quietly recognising throughout the County. I hope that many local and County-wide firms will take the trouble to find out more and to join.
TryAngle looks forward to this year`s Spirit” and then to celebrating our twentieth anniversary in the knowledge that the young people of Kent will not let us down.