Billy Ridgers of Team Video recruited a group of young people from different backgrounds to ask the question 'Who runs this place?' The idea' emerged out of the uproar around MP’s expenses scandal and the crisis in the financial system.
The reaction of young people to all this had been hardly noticed and mostly unrecorded. Many of them already felt disrespected and marginalised. What did it all mean for them? Their families were already beginning to feel the impact of the financial crisis. But what about them? What about getting to college or university, what about getting work, what about realising their dreams and ambitions?
In the current financial crisis young people are feeling the full brunt of measures taken to pay for the deficit. Rising youth unemployment, reduction in education and training opportunities and rising fees for further and higher education are blighting millions of young people's lives
This seemed an opportune moment to open up the political system to young people’s scrutiny. Let them ask the question: ‘Who runs this place?’ and ‘What’s in it for me?’ They were carefully recruited from school, college and a young offender institution to represent a cross section of young people in the UK. They were backed up by a team of facilitators, who helped them gain access to the commanding heights of the economy and polity, to scrutinise, enquire and question. They were enabled to follow an investigative trail from the city and business, through media and politics, and then back to themselves and their own lives.
Hasn’t this all been done before?
This project is different. It does not start out to familiarise them with the workings of an arcane political apparatus, or give them privileged insight and access to the dusty corridors of power. This starts with young people. They have a new and unique view of the world, self-centred maybe, but new and refreshing. Why shouldn’t the status quo that imbues the political and financial system be given the once over by young people?
The project enabled a group of young people to meet the people with power and ask questions about that power. What role do banks and big business have in running our lives? Have politics and power become too remote from everybody? Have governments and politicians become out of touch with people, only able to serve the establishment? Can global business, finance and media be held to account? Does globalisation disempower everyone except the most wealthy and privileged.
And the outcome of the enquiry gives the young people a resource which is uniquely theirs. This is it.
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