Europe’s youngest city “failing to hear” claim

Research concludes that more young people leaving Birmingham than arriving.

With young people aged 14-25 making up 40% of its population, Birmingham’s reputation as Europe’s youngest city is well-known and widely-touted. Currently undergoing rapid regeneration to the tune of an estimated £10 billion, creating over 50,000 new jobs, providing 65,000 sq. m. of improved public spaces, and providing over 5,000 new homes, it seems that the pull to settle in Birmingham has never been so attractive for its 454,840 young people. However the stats show clearly that more are leaving than are staying.

So, what’s going wrong for Birmingham? Anisa Haghdadi (pictured), founder of the Beatfreeks Collective and pioneer of the Brum Youth Trends Project, thinks it’s simple: while we’re willing to brag about our young population, we aren’t willing to listen to them.

Having worked with young people for thirteen years, Anisa has seen and heard time and time again the same refrain: “No one asks us our opinions and when they do, they ignore them anyway.” In a time when young people are more politicised, more connected, and more mobilised, for Anisa it seems counter-productive to discount the sector of society that accounts for close to half the city’s population.

What’s more, when challenged on this front, the response from policy-makers is repeatedly that the redevelopments are to answer these calls from young people. However, without the dialogue between these two factions to communicate that, young people are increasingly feeling excluded from these developments, rather than invested in them.

Enter: Brum Youth Trends. The brainchild of the Beatfreeks Collective and an effort to redress the balance between the power and the people, Brum Youth Trends launched last year and is back by popular demand again this year. The Brum Youth Trends report compiles the survey results of people aged 14-25, and with 500 downloads and counting from the likes of Virgin, the BBC, and the council, it’s fair to say that those in charge have stopped to take note.

This year, more than double the number of young people answered the survey than in 2017 and the results that have emerged from their answers have, for Anisa, been bittersweet. While its evident that Young Brum have aspirations, social awareness, and the desire to make positive change, the flipside of this is that they don’t feel connected to the city; they don’t feel proud of or represented by it.

Therefore, for Anisa and the Beatfreeks Collective, it is imperative that Brum Youth Trends continues to exist and make change. Even more, it is increasingly important that it isn’t just a report, but is the start of a conversation for pressing and positive change: to do this, this year’s report will be launched at a summit, bringing together policy makers and influential young people to draw from, discuss, and debate the findings.

With the likes of Andy Street, Sir Nick Serota, Sideman Allday and Deborah Cadman all confirmed to take to the stage at the summit, this has to be the first step on the way to hearing these young voices on a regional – and even national – scale.

The summit will be the first of its kind and promises to be the start to creating a tangible answer to the demands of young people. Taking place on 10th October, Anisa believes it has the potential to pioneer the way for the country to start engaging its young people to create a future that serves all.

There are still tickets available for the Brum Youth Trends summit and the event is completely free to attend. They are being reserved quick, so to reserve your space at this groundbreaking event, head to: