Is Plymouth Failing Our Young People?

 

tribe magazine founder, Mark Doyle, investigates how Plymouth is supporting its young people

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On the surface, things are improving in Plymouth in terms of a cultural offer. Lots of new developments are happening, there are new collectives starting up all the time, and more importantly, people seem to be actually talking to each other.

I’ve been working with young people in Plymouth via tribe (www.tribemagazine.org) for nearly 5 years now, and the change in the city over that period of time has been remarkable. But I’ll be honest about this, the city is still failing young people, particularly those looking for a viable outlet for their ideas. I’ll explain exactly what I mean.

During the 5 years that tribe has been in operation, we have worked with around 50 young people, mainly from Plymouth and the surrounding area. Many of them have been undergraduates and postgraduates from academic institutions in the city. By working with them I mean they have been volunteering with tribe as correspondents, editors, publishers, video editors, sound recordists… fulfulling all the functions of a modern media platform. I have also given talks and lectures in the city to hundreds of young people over that period of time. There has been a recurring and persistent complaint from those I have met that no one seems to be actually addressing in the city…no one is providing them with a sustained and worthwhile platform for them to fully explore and experience their ideas.

We try and do what we can with tribe – we are a global publishing platform and I do my best to provide the tools and expertise to help tribes volunteers explore their ideas, but I am only 1 person and can only do so much. I only have a certain amount of time to support them.

I’ve heard many young people come to me with ideas for projects, startups, publishing projects etc, and say that there is no one in the city that will help them. The tools aren’t there, the environment to support them is not there, and the expertise (largely) is not their either or if it is, it’s too busy doing other things. The young people I have engaged with over the past 5 years feel frustrated by this. They can’t get money or funding because no one is providing the support, advice and platform to do so. There is no nurture culture, no referral process, no single point of contact to help signpost young people to those that could help them.

Two of the global projects tribe have been working with recently in Jamaica and Bal Sahyog, India

tribe magazine is run and put together entirely by young volunteers

Tribe is configured to be super-skinny; no costs, no overheads, free, cloud based tools only. You can achieve a lot on nothing but you can do 100 times more with a little money if you have the ideas, the time and the expertise to utilise that money. We don’t have that mentality in the city it’s not part of the new culture in respect to young people. Other cities in the UK do have it. Currently, if a young person has an idea, they have nowhere to take that idea in the city. The feedback I get from the young people when they have approached organisations that are supposed to support them has not been great, if I’m honest. We need to do more as a city, because I truly believe we are failing them in this respect.

Here is an example of what can be done when you invest a little time and effort in young people. Tribe has received no funding or backing from anyone in 5 years. It’s entirely powered by young people. In that time I have received 3 offers from major publishers to buy tribe out, and last month I had a San Francisco based Venture Capital company, e.ventures, contact me to kick tribe’s tires. How many organisations in the South West can say that a SF based VC company has asked to talk to them about investment potential? I’ll wager none. And this has been achieved largely off the work of the young people of Plymouth, given an opportunity and a platform to realise their ideas.

How fantastic is that? How much more fantastic it would be if we backed them properly? I imagine it would be amazing.