Name
Lauren Aird

Age and location
23, Leeds

What led you to be here today and prompted you to want to join the FVG?
I grew up in a low-income, single-parent family, which primarily relied on benefits and welfare schemes to live. I realised there was a social stigma surrounding benefit recipients and young people from low-income backgrounds. Society perceived us as ‘lazy’ or ‘unwilling to work’, whilst employers viewed us as too young and inexperienced. Job searching whilst being stereotyped for my socio-economic status weighed heavily on my shoulders.

When I found out about the Future Voices Group, I realised every negative experience I faced could influence real change in how society supports marginalised young people into meaningful work and training”

What are you up to now? (eg. In work/study/looking for work/volunteering)
I am studying Health and Social Care at college and plan to attend Leeds Beckett University to study Youth Work and Community Development. I’m also looking at volunteering opportunities in the youth work and social mobility sector.

What is most important to you in your life right now?
Laying the foundations to get to university in the next couple of years. I didn’t do too well in school, so I’m retaking my maths GCSE.

What sort of changes do you want to be involved in making as part of the FVG?
Every UK region has seen funding for youth services slashed by more than 60% since 2010, causing countless youth club closures. I want to create new platforms and services that young people can access, which emulate the dynamics of a youth club, but also offer vital support and advice surrounding work, education or training.