News and Comment

How will today’s young people shape tomorrow’s society?

Tuesday 28 May 2013


This is the question we’ll be tackling in early July at a memorial lecture and discussion hosted in memory of longstanding OPM Director Kai Rudat, who very sadly died last year. It’s a fitting topic, as anyone who knew Kai and his passion for the issues of youth participation and engagement will recognise. And it’s also a vital issue, with even the most optimistic among us conceding that the future we are likely to bequeath to the next generation will look more challenging than that which we received ourselves.

It is therefore with great pleasure and with keen anticipation that I am able to announce the evening’s contributors: a group well able to do this subject justice.

Beginning with a keynote address from Dr Maggie Atkinson, the Children’s Commissioner for England, the event will also feature a panel discussion including Lord Victor Adebowale, the CEO of the social enterprise Turning Point; Baroness Stedman-Scott, of youth employment and training charity Tomorrow’s People; and Barbara Moorhouse, Chief Operating Officer of Westminster City Council and Chair of the OPM Group.

In addition to these eminent and expert thinkers, we’re mindful of making sure that the views of young people themselves are given appropriate prominence in this debate, and as a result there will be young people from a range of backgrounds both on the panel and in the audience. We are also involving young people in identifying the topics to be discussed. And we are in the process of finalising an exciting new initiative for OPM that will make a concrete contribution to addressing the challenges around supporting young people in the current difficult climate – more of this soon.

The evening is sure to throw up as many questions as it does answers. Should we be concerned or confident that today’s young people will be equipped to solve the problems they are sure to face? And, in a society which often veers towards the ephebiphobic – perceiving and representing young people negatively – is it sometimes too easy to forget the good work being done with and by young people, building the skills and experience necessary for the future?

Kai Rudat believed passionately in the capacity of all people – whatever their background – to understand complex social issues and to contribute to decision making. It is in no small part because of Kai that OPM has such a long track record of helping to give a voice to groups in society who are at risk of being missed out – including young people. We are sure that this event will prove a fitting memorial and help maintain his legacy in the important work OPM continues to carry out.

There are a very small number of places for the event remaining, and we would like to give priority to commissioners, practitioners and policymakers who work with or focus on issues directly relating to young people and youth participation. If you are interested in attending please email and we will do our utmost to accommodate you.