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Council invites local businesses to play their part and help make 2022 a year of opportunity for all young people

Girls singing in the Parrswood High school choir

Business leaders and influential figures from across the city were out in force last night for the launch of Manchester City Council’s new initiative, 2022: Our Year.

Guests gathered at Manchester’s renowned People’s History Museum where Manchester Council Chief Executive Joanne Roney OBE, Leader Bev Craig, and Executive Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Garry Bridges, officially launched the transformative year-long campaign.

Many of the official 2022: Our Year ambassadors were also present to show their support. 

These inspirational Mancunians have pledged to support the Council’s 2022: Our Year by contributing their experience, talent, and time to take part in events, support fundraising projects, and provide practical opportunities such as work experience and mentoring.

They include global fashion brand owner Seema MalhotraDeputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester and LGBTQ+ campaigner Carl Austin Behan OBE, festival and events director Jon Drape, sports lawyer and commercial litigator Marc Yaffe, media editor Shelina Begum, barrister Sally Penni, Night Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord, Manchester Youth MP Alex Kennedy, climate change activist Emma Greenwood and inspirational speaker and storyteller, Krish Patel.

Seema Malhotra said: “I am so proud to be part of Manchester City Council's Our Year initiative to support the UNICEF Child-Friendly City programme as I believe that we have a duty to provide a safe and happy environment where children can flourish and reach their full potential.

“I am a huge advocate of mental health and there has been a devastating impact on young people during the pandemic, not just mentally but also financially.

“We need to listen to their needs and create a legacy for our next generations to pass on. Now more than ever, it's time we made a change from the heart and what better place to start than Manchester.”

Bev Craig, the newly elected Leader of Manchester City Council, stressed the profound impact 2022: Our Year will have on the city.

She said: “Over the last couple of years we have lived through an extraordinary period of history. What we do next will be part of that history. Together we can take a giant stride towards our ultimate ambition of making Manchester the best city for young people to grow up in. 

“As I become the first new leader of the City Council in a generation I can’t promise – even harnessing all our collective energies – that we will be able to eradicate those inequalities which hamper young people’s lives overnight. 

“But I can pledge that we will give it everything we have got. If you share our ambitions for our children and our young people, as I know so many of you do, come, and join us on this journey. The Our Year campaign is just the start.”

To inspire and encourage local residents to view the city through the eyes of young people, Manchester City Council commissioned local poet Reece Williams to write a poem to kick start 2022: Our Year.  Titled ‘A City for Young People’ the thought-provoking poem was recited by local young carers, children from St. James CofE Primary School Rusholme, and young people from Norbrook Youth Centre in Wythenshawe.

Poet and Contact Theatre Trustee Reece Williams said: "I'm honoured to have been asked to write the poem to commemorate 2022 Our Year. 

“Championing the voices of young people has been a part of my personal and professional life for a long time, from my work with Young Identity and The Agency project delivered by Contact, so it is fitting that I can be a part of such an exciting initiative. I feel strongly that our City's future is dependent on the present that we create for our young people."

The Council also invited global educational charity Debate Mate to host a lively debate about social inequality led by talented, local youngsters from Manchester Youth CouncilDean Trust in Ardwick and Eden Boys' Leadership Academy.

The compelling discussion: This House believes that social inequality is the biggest factor affecting young people today’ was chaired by Our Year Ambassador, BBC Radio 6 Music presenter, Chris Hawkins. 

Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children and Schools also addressed guests, and revealed what young people told the council they want during the biggest face to face engagement exercise with children the city has ever carried out.  He said:

"Over the last few months we've been out speaking to children and young people right across the city. 

"They told us they don’t want to hear the doom and gloom, they don’t want to be labelled the COVID generation, and they don’t want this experience to define them.

"What they want is actually pretty simple.

"A decent education, the chance to experience what it's like in different careers, to hear from people with backgrounds like theirs; the chance to take part in activities, clubs, and trips, and to have places to just hang out with their friends.

"Our children aren’t asking for the world and I really can’t accept that any of this is beyond our collective ability to make happen for them."

Chief Executive Joanne Roney closed the event with a powerful call to action. 

She said: “To meet our ambition to create a true legacy, which will help young people in this city to achieve their dreams, we need to work together - public and private sectors pulling in the same direction to put young people at the heart of the city’s future.  

“We want to dedicate 2022 to the children and young people of Manchester, to create a year of opportunities, experiences and activities that inspire, engage and support them to have a successful future.”

The Council has launched ‘2022: Our Year’ to create a legacy for children and young people living in Manchester and to help bring UNICEF's 'Child Friendly City' recognition for the city.  2022: Our Year will kick-start the accreditation process for Manchester to be recognised by UNICEF as a Child Friendly City.

Naomi Danquah, Director of Child Friendly Cities and Communities at the UK Committee for UNICEF said:

“We’re delighted that Manchester is aspiring to join the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) Child Friendly Cities & Communities programme as part of its commitment to put children at the heart of everything it does.

“The programme would see the council and its partners working with UNICEF UK over three to five years to better understand the needs of local children and young people and use children’s rights as a guide to make the city the best possible place to grow up.

“We look forward to exploring this opportunity to work together throughout Manchester’s Year of the Child and beyond.”  

2022 Our Year Ambassador Krish Patel said: “Manchester is full of potential, full of character and full of diversity, however if we are not able to let that potential shine and that character to blossom, then we are not embracing the spirit of hope and community that Manchester represents.

“The UNICEF Child Friendly Cities accreditation will be another great cause for us to unite towards being one of the leading cities in the world, helping to build a foundation for our young people where their voices are not just listened to, but heard, with direct action taken in our society.

“If we truly want a brighter future for our young people, then let’s give them a voice towards what lies ahead.”

Bobbi Hadcraft and Ishaa Asim presented the event, which was also live streamed on the council's website.

Guests were also treated to some festive favourites performed live by Parrswood High School choir and jazz band. 

Manchester City Council is asking businesses to pledge their support and has outlined various sponsorship packages on the 2022: Our Year website here

Sponsorship opportunities range from £5k - £50k for local businesses to demonstrate their commitment to social value and build a better future for children and young people whilst showcasing the creativity of Manchester.

Businesses and members of the public will be able to access more information and register their interest or support for the cause through the website.

Manchester’s private sector can also pledge in kind support for 2022: Our Year.

Suggestions include the donation of play, sports or ICT equipment, free tickets for events, vouchers for experiences, volunteer hours, event space, work experience and storage space for resources.

A wider public launch is scheduled for January with further details to be released in the new year.

2022: Our Year ambassadors include: Dr Kirsty Fairclough from Manchester Metropolitan University’s School of Digital Arts, leisure and hospitality entrepreneur Aaron Mellorrenowned litigator Geraldine Ryan, professional boxing coach Jamie Moore, actress Cath Tyldesley, fashion brand owner Seema Malhotramarketing expert Viv Yao, festival and events director Jon Drape, actress and business owner Brooke Vincent, climate change activist Emma Greenwood, media editor Shelina Begum, sports lawyer and commercial litigator Marc Yaffe, Contact Theatre trustee and poet Reece Williams, professional footballer Kean Bryan, national radio presenter and The Prince's Trust ambassador Chris Hawkins, Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester and LGBTQ+ campaigner Carl Austin Behan, OBE, finance business leader Anthony Morrow, hospitality business leader Karina Jadhav, Manchester Youth MP Alex Kennedy, barrister and diversity leader Sally Penni, female sport entrepreneur Grace Vella, digital talent director Ruby Melling, inspirational speaker and coach Krish PatelGreater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, artist Justin Eagleton, tech and innovation consultant Naomi Timperley, and actress and disability campaigner, Melissa Johns and Foundation 92’s Tom Hutton.

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