How Blueprint 22 started…
Whilst working with a group of young people in 2010, we had a number of discussions about the cuts to youth provision locally.. As most of the young people in the group were over nineteen years old, they felt that they were too old to access youth-based provision, but still wanted the opportunity to receive support, guidance and mentoring. They were never sure about where or who they could turn to and had a real dislike of being signposted from one organisation to another.
During these conversations, I encouraged them to talk about what their ideal would be and ‘how’ and importantly ‘if’ it could work practically. We explored whether there really was a ‘market’ of young people who felt they were without direction. Could their skills be built on and utilised to enable to help them achieve independence? Their enthusiasm for change was quite infectious. It became my personal mission to see if together we could create the structure of an organisation which would enable us to develop a truly youth-led service. Could they really take their ideas and turn them into something that could harness change?
In April 2011, Blueprint 22 was born, from a small seed of £2000 savings, we decided to create a youth organisation with a difference. The difference being, to do it 100% ‘their’ way. Together we agreed to embrace all the peaks and troughs that come with trying to develop something innovative and lasting. To not be scared by our mistakes and to see them as opportunities to learn and grow. Blueprint 22 is a not-for-profit organisation or as the young people call it ‘an alternative family’. With our core beliefs being firmly based in helping ourselves until they are able to help themselves. It remains essential to us to retain our person-centred approach whilst allowing each person to learn experientially.
We seek to celebrate our uniqueness as both individuals and organisationally as we strive to build a better future for ourselves and others. Our journey so far has seen rapid growth, with 101 projects being delivered in 5 years, and 1270 different young people having taken part in Blueprint 22. One longest active participant Zachary Smith has just become our first Youth Director, and we have just established a new ‘Blueprint Board’ to ensuring the service stays true to our original aims.
Blueprint 22 future plans focus on our core mission by respond to need without red tape or restriction. We continue to be the voice of those who struggle to be heard and to offer a guide to those who chose to join. We want offer young people opportunities to have meaningful and lasting progression in their lives.