Posted on 28 June 2021
Thirty students entered the ‘Transform Challenge’ as part of City of York Council’s My City Centre project, a city-wide conversation to inform a new vision for York.
In early 2020, the Council asked residents to help shape their response to the challenges already facing high streets and city centres, which were exacerbated by the pandemic.
Covid-19 has increased the pace of change in some areas, like the huge increase in online spending. But it also presented completely new challenges, including the shift to home working and the impact that has on daily footfall, as well as presenting exciting new opportunities.
The winning group of students proposed a ‘My City Centre Podcast’ as a way to share different perspectives and start conversations. The team pitched a series of 10 episodes, each focusing on a different topic related to engaging with the city centre, such as transport, heritage, retail and security.
The council were impressed by the level of detail in the submission and their ideas for how to have longer-term engagement with residents of York.
With the Council particularly wanting to encourage young people to engage in debates around the challenges and opportunities facing York’s city centre, the ‘Transform Challenge’ was designed to support students to develop key employability skills, including problem-solving, self-awareness, resilience, and community focus.
Tom Coward, Placements Co-ordinator at the University of York’s Department for Sociology, said: "This is a fantastic example of the University of York's commitment to providing high-quality work experience opportunities for our students, and it has inspired many students to consider a career tackling some of society's most difficult problems.
"It has been brilliant to work closely with Transform Society and the City of York Council to challenge and inspire our students. The students responded really well to their task and produced some very creative ideas."
Councillor Andrew Waller, City of York Council executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said: "We want to make sure that residents from every part of York, and all age groups, including young people, express their views in the decisions which will affect them."
"It was great to hear creative ideas from young people about how to better engage them. The thought-provoking work was of a really high quality, and will help us as we continue to transform the way we listen to residents."
The project involved Transform Society, an alliance between five of the biggest public sector graduate recruiters. The members are Frontline (Social Workers), Police Now (Community Policing), Teach First (Teacher Training), Think Ahead (Adult Mental Health Support), Unlocked (Rehabilitation Officers). In total, they recruit over 3000 graduates each year.
Find out more about how to get involved with the My City Centre project.