People and Skills - 11 April 2024

Our region’s Youth Voice Ambassadors take centre stage at the Connected Futures Youth Led Event in Birmingham

PHOTO: L-R: Clare Talati, Lead Delivery Partner; Kai Partington, Youth Voice Facilitator; Habibah Ghani, Jack Corbin, Emily Fellows, and Akil Johnson, Youth Voice Ambassadors for the East Midlands

The East Midlands Connected Futures partnership is led by D2N2 LEP, Direct Education Business Partnership (DEBP) and Nottinghamshire County Council.

Representatives from the East Midlands partnership attended the Connected Futures: Youth Led Event in Birmingham last month. The Youth Led Event was all about putting youth voice and leadership at the centre of the discussion, and our region’s Youth Voice Ambassadors took centre stage and were really inspired by the event. It was designed in consultation with all nine Connected Futures partnerships and led by the Connected Futures Youth Steering Group and the Future Voices Group.

Clare Talati, DEBP Chief Executive Officer said:

“Our local partnership is examining the processes and pathways available for young people with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism spectrum conditions, to enter and progress within employment. As part of this, Youth Voice Ambassadors representing the four districts of D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, and Nottinghamshire) are facilitating a Youth Development Board to listen and learn from young people with lived experience, and empower them along their journey into the world of work.”

The event marked the end of Phase 1 of the partnership, which focused on exploring with young people the challenges they face, and where support is lacking, and looking ahead to Phase 1.5 which involves testing solutions and readiness for Phase 2.

The day was broken down into three sessions: Hackathon: Knowledge Exchange – working in mixed partnership teams, representatives were invited to share knowledge and thoughts to offer creative solutions to key questions, system issues, or areas for further exploration that Connected Futures partnerships have highlighted through Phase 1. This pool of knowledge and experience from a range of young people and organisations was then collated and shared.

The second session was the Youth Participation ‘Un-Panel’ – this enabled young people and organisations who specialise in youth participation to share their experiences, learning, and best practice to enable meaningful youth leadership and challenge power dynamics. Panel members were spread across the audience and other youth representatives were encouraged to engage in dialogue with the panel members.

The third session was the ‘Build Your Future’ Creative Challenge – where the partners and youth representatives shared their learning and vision for Connected Futures with the rest of the delegates. They could use whatever method they wanted, this could include spoken word, a drama performance, or visual representations.

Kai Partington, Youth Voice Facilitator for the East Midlands Connected Futures Partnership, said:

“For the creative challenge, the team were inspired by the passion one of the Youth Voice Ambassadors, Akil, has for cooking. Together they created their ‘Recipe for Success’: Jack created a visual representation of the ‘ingredients’, and as Emily and Habibah narrated the ‘recipe’, Akil acted out making the ‘success pizza’ and added his secret spice, ‘youth voice’ to bring all the flavours together, with the team sharing their mantra of ‘nothing about us, without us’ which relates to young people co-producing solutions and being part of the decision-making process, when high-level decisions are made.”

Comments about the day from other Youth Voice Ambassadors included:

“It was really interesting, fun and useful”

“We saw and listened to other partnerships, getting some great suggestions on how to tackle some of the key issues being faced”

“The event made it clear how similar all our respective missions and goals are. We’re all in this together!”

“It gave a great sense of optimism to know we’re all lifting each other to build the future we all want to see”

“We were inspired by the event and can’t wait to explore ways to use what we have learned and embed some approaches within the Youth Development Board”

Emily Fellows, Youth Voice Ambassador said:

“It was inspiring to see such a large group of passionate young advocates for change. After a lifetime of being told, “it’s just the way it is”, meeting so many like-minded individuals who aren’t just talking about systemic change but actually enacting it was a powerful experience.”

Find out more about Connected Futures

Find out more about D2N2’s People and Skills strategy



D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) covers the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire region, convening the businesses, universities, colleges and local authorities in our region to drive low carbon, economic growth and productivity, skills & careers, inclusion and delivery excellence. The D2N2 LEP team and functions will transition into the East Midlands Combined County Authority during 2024. 


For media enquiries, contact: 

Nicola Swaney 

Head of External Affairs, D2N2 LEP 

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