Zainab Agboola, a 13-year-old graduate of Phoenix Community Housing’s school of social housing, explains why young people should be taken seriously by the sector
I’ve lived in south Lewisham all my life – that’s 13 years.
There are nearby parks and fun things to do with your family in the summer. There are also knife crime and gangs, which are a threat to young people and the way we live.
Growing up as a young person in social housing, I don’t think people take us or what we want seriously. Youth services enable young people to develop, socially and educationally, giving us places to develop our voices – and youth services are being cut.
I decided to take part in the Phoenix Academy because I was determined and ready to be involved in each lesson.
I knew participating in the course would be a wonderful opportunity to explore social housing. After all, my mum is my role model and has done the course and gone on to gain a Level 2 Chartered Institute of Housing qualification.
And I really enjoyed it. You’re able to communicate with others, make new friends and learn from amazing teachers who pack lessons with detail and are there to help.
Through the academy, I’ve learned about things like communication, housing finance, repairs and safety, and building new homes.
“The academy gave me a really good head-start to a career in housing one day”
These are topics that are important for anyone, especially young people.
I took part in the academy because I wanted to help some of the most vulnerable people, to help them secure suitable accommodation and help them improve their lives. And the academy gave me a really good head-start to a career in housing one day.
Because when the day is over and night comes, everyone needs somewhere to go – and I want to help them.
Social housing is really important for the community. My favourite part of the Phoenix Academy was learning about the history of housing associations and the people who made them.
I think we need more homes, more activities and more places for young people to go. And housing associations are important for all of those things.
Young people need to be taken seriously by adults; one day, the world will be in our hands. But we’ll never be able to handle that responsibility if we’re not trusted and given responsibilities now.
Most teenagers want – and more importantly are ready – to be taken seriously. Give us the opportunity to fulfil our potential and help solve the problems our communities are facing.
Zainab Agboola, youngest ever graduate of Phoenix Community Housing’s school of social housing
The Phoenix Academy is open to anyone living, working or interested in social housing and its place in society. Its next Level 2 and Level 3 courses begin in October. You can find out more online here.