Manchester's youngsters have reiterated their determination to build links with Europe through a bid to become European Youth Capital 2019 following the national referendum vote to leave the EU.
Renewed backing for Manchester's Euro Youth Capital bid
Councillors at the Council's Children and Young People's Scrutiny Committee, which met today (Tuesday 19 July) have confirmed their support for the campaign which is being driven by a Leaders Panel of young people aged 18-30 in the city. They also led a bid for the title in 2018 which saw Manchester highly commended but narrowly pipped to the European Youth Capital title by Cascais in Portugal.
The panel's strong message to the Council was that many young people in the city remain extremely passionate about building bridges with Europe and retaining their sense of European identity and that this resolve was strengthened, not weakened, by the referendum result.
The European Youth Capital title is not linked to the EU itself, which means therefore that Manchester's application can proceed even if the UK has left the EU by 2019.
The title has been awarded annually since 2009 to a European city for the city to develop its youth related cultural, social, political and economic life through a year-long programme of events and activities. Winning cities are expected to use their year in office to improve the position of young people and their participation in society, and to be a role model for other European cities in the field of youth policy, as well as helping to strengthen links between European cities and young people across the continent.
The title is awarded by the European Youth Forum, a representative body of European youth organisations such as national youth councils and NGOs working on young person and youth related issues. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is the official endorsing partner of the title.
Manchester is very much a young city - in fact the proportion of young people living in the city is ten per cent higher than the national average.
One such young person is Ashley McCormick, aged 25, who is part of the young Leaders Panel that is driving the city's bid for European youth status. He said: "It would be an amazing opportunity for the spotlight to be firmly on young people in Manchester - not just for a couple of weeks, but for the whole year. We believe it would give young people, like me, a powerful voice to be heard - not just in Manchester, but across Europe - which could help further improve services for young people in the city and across Europe.
"It would also be an opportunity to showcase the city's offer for young people and to involve them directly in developing a year-long programme of events that unlock the creative and innovative talents of young people."
Manchester's bid for the 2019 title is centred on three themes: changing the city, challenging the status quo, and celebrating diversity.
If their EYC bid is successful young people want to use the year to work to change the city and remove the barriers that prevent them from accessing the many opportunities available locally. This includes improving the transport offer for young people, and responding to the housing challenges, including homelessness, for young people. They also want to challenge perceptions across society amongst young and old people to show that anybody can have a voice at any age, and want to celebrate diversity Manchester's multiculturalism which is seen as a real strength of the city.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, lead member for young people for Manchester City Council, said: "Manchester is going through a rapid period of transformation through devolution and the Northern Powerhouse agenda, and it's only right that we consider the part to be played by young people in this.
"It is increasingly their future that is being shaped and re-shaped at a pace and scale of change not seen since the Industrial Revolution, and it's imperative that young people are involved in this.
"Young people have been very clear with us that despite Brexit, they consider themselves to be European, and becoming European Youth Capital 2019 would provide a very real opportunity to highlight and further the youth agenda not just in Manchester and Greater Manchester, but nationally and across Europe. Manchester is a young city, and we take young people seriously and are determined to do everything we can to ensure that they are well placed to take advantage of all the city has to offer as well as helping to shape it for future generations."
Manchester is one of five cities short-listed to be European Youth Capital 2019 - along with Amiens (France), Novi Sad (Serbia), Perugia (Italy), and Derry & Strabane (Northern Ireland). Final bids from each of the five cities are due to be submitted in October this year with the announcement of the winner to be made in November.
To find out more about the bid, include how you can support it, email email@example.com or follow @mcreyc2019 on Twitter.