From 7th- 9th of September 2016, Forward Thinking held meetings with diverse grassroots and community stakeholders within the Midlands, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester including: Bolton, Birmingham, Batley, Bradford, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Leicester, and Manchester.

Meetings brought together influential individuals with constituency including social workers, youth workers, youth leaders and heads of community and faith groups, and focused on Forward Thinking’s forthcoming political literacy and media training. Meetings provided participating institutions the opportunity to meet workshop trainers and make suggestions to forthcoming training to ensure it meets local needs across Greater Manchester, the Midlands and Yorkshire.

The aim of the training is to provide young leaders a chance to gain skills to enable them to address their frustrations with lack of political visibility, media misrepresentations and socio-economic disadvantage, and to explore how put these skills into action, working to reduce their social marginalisation and disaffection. The thrust of this initiative is to promote a programme and dialogue initiatives which are centered on building bridges between fractious, isolated and divided communities with national policy makers and parliamentarians. This will be achieved by providing training to improve political literacy ensuring that participants may understand how parliament works and the interests that shape it, the various mechanisms by which people can access and influence it and the challenges to trust and engagement with the Establishment. Media training will enable communities to take control of their own narrative comprising of media literacy workshops on understanding the media, how to seek redress for misrepresentations, and how to produce good quality amateur video footage and copy.

This continues the effort by Forward Thinking’s longstanding UK ‘Building Bridges’ Programme which focusses on promoting youth engagement and empowerment, grassroots and community confidence and capacity building.