One of the most challenging elements of increasing inclusion is how do you reach young people that you’re not currently reaching? You may have already had the conversation, or have thought about how it might go.
“We’re not reaching these young people with our offer.”
“OK, so how do we reach out to them?”
“Well, we don’t know exactly who they are, we just know we’re not reaching them.”
So, how do you engage with a group of young people that you know you’re not reaching, but you don’t definitively know who or where they are?
This is where engaging in partnerships comes into play, and not just music or arts partners. Organisations in your area are most likely already working with a wide range of young people that aren’t represented in your participant base. For example, there will be an organisation or department of your local council that are working with Young Carers, council departments like Early Help or the Youth Offending Team will be working with a diverse and wide range of young people with different circumstances, local community organisations that can support you in reaching out to different communities that may be more challenging to access using the traditional methods we employ, virtual school and home schooling networks to reach those participants that we don’t through our regular school work.
By reaching out to and working with these organisations and groups, we have a better opportunity to reach more young people. Importantly also, we also have the chance to involve them in shaping how we work. Youth and community voice can become powerful tools for us to engage with young people and find out what they want to do, what kind of music they’re interested in, what is culturally relevant to them that our offers may not satisfy and crucially, why they may not have engaged with us in the past.
It might be that the geography of our offer excludes them so placing something closer to them, perhaps in their local community building if they have one, would support them. Language and paperwork may be a barrier, so we can work with them to overcome that. Finances, as we know, are a major barrier so by engaging directly we can let them know first-hand what support we can offer. Communication, as ever, is the key.
So, for those of you that have had that conversation at the top of the blog or thought about how it might go, know you’re not alone. It can be daunting to figure out how to reach people you know you’re not reaching, when you don’t specifically know who or where they are. But by reaching out within your area, your community, your network, you will find people to help facilitate those conversations, and hopefully result in reaching more and more young people from all backgrounds who want music in their lives.