Jamaican Youth Forum UK Event Summary

The inaugural Jamaican Youth Forum (JYF) UK, launched on 22 November 2016 at The Houses of Parliament in London, was an overwhelming success.

The JYF was organised by Tanesha Westcarr, Future Leader UK representative on the Diaspora Advisory Board and hosted by Dawn Butler MP, who gave a formal address at the event.

Three Members of Parliament supported the event from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Jamaica. Dawn Butler MP, Labour in London (Chair of APPG for Jamaica), Anne McLaughlin Scottish MP, Scottish National Party in Glasgow (Vice Chair of APPG for Jamaica) and David McKintosh MP, Conservative in Northampton.

The Acting High Commissioner of Jamaica Mrs Angella Rose-Howell and Consular officers were present to support the launch of the event.

Event sponsors Victoria Mutual were pleased to engage with the youth from across the UK. Mr Leighton Smith, Chief Representative Officer in the UK, shared a warm address on behalf of the Building Society.

Mr Ben Cunningham, Chair of JDUK, gave a brief address and history of the Jamaican diaspora initiative.

A scrumptious mix of canapés and light beverages were served before the formal proceedings began.

Attendees travelled from all regions of the UK including Birmingham, Manchester, Aldershot, Nottingham, Bristol, Gloucester and London. One international attendee journied all the way from France for the event.

Four topics were covered on the night by four youth panellists followed by a lively Q&A session with much audience participation.

The key topics that were discussed by the panel are:
• Cultural identity, re-connection and engagement; - by Cory Bernard (North UK)
• Jamaican youth leadership in the diaspora and engagement with government in Jamaica; - by Oroyo Eubanks (London)
• Intellectual remittance and investing in Jamaica; - by Rashaeda Morris (South UK)
• Global Jamaica (“GloJam”) Immigration Card for the diaspora by the Economic Growth Council in JA. - by Lisa Soares (Midlands).

The Q&A session tackled all areas aforementioned as well as the need to re-present brand Jamaica by becoming content creators and actually visiting the island for oneself. It was resolved that improving the image of Jamaica in the diaspora would need a two pronged approach, grass roots as well as government intervention. Others argued that the JYF should be extended to the rest of the Caribbean as other islands could benefit from a similar Forum.

Anne McLaughlin  MP, commended the forum as well as encouraged Tanesha to take the JYF across Great Britain including Scotland to access youth from all regions. Much of the discussion touched on crime, violence, education and ways to connect to the island and the Jamaican community in the UK. Several diaspora policies were challenged and recommendations were given on reinvigorating The Mapping the Diaspora Project. The final question came from an autistic young man who asked about what support is available for special education needs in Jamaica. Online questions included energy use and solar panels in Jamaica to reduce electricity bills as well as cultural history taught in schools in the UK.

Tanesha Westcarr rounded up the conversations with a pledge to continue to make JYF a national inclusive movement. The next location was announced as Birmingham, early 2017.

The JYF is nurturing the leaders of tomorrow. It is an advocacy platform that empowers, engages and amplifies the voice of youth and young adults of Jamaican heritage regardless of group alignment, location of birth or area in which you live in the diaspora. All can connect, express their views and get involved with the various projects and programs which are available.


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