Young Muslim Leadership Network
Young Muslim Leadership Network (YMLN) was a programme involving young Muslims between 16 and 21 from across the country. The young people came together to discuss and explore social issues affecting them and their communities.
The kinds of issues they addressed included alienation, discrimination, Islamophobia and lack of civic participation. During the project the young people investigated the causes of the social problems by talking to people in power or influence before producing media of their own in campaigns for change.
The YMLN was administered by the Citizenship Foundation but works in collaboration with consultants from Muslim Youth Helpline, Three Faiths Forum, British Muslims for a Secular Democracy and Young Muslims Advisory Group.
Over the last 18 months YMLN members met regularly on a monthly basis, in two groups in London and one in Birmingham.
YMLN was delivered in a three phase strategy incorporating elements of identification, research and production.
Phase one allowed the young people to identify social policy issues of concern to them. For instance, they explored a wide range of issues such as discrimination, alienation, Islam's portrayal in the media, Islamophobia, political participation, education and so on.
In phase two, group members were encouraged to research a single social issue, this allowed for a more thorough and focussed exploration.
The research phase led the three groups to focus on the following social issues:
- Barriers to civic participation (Birmingham Group)
Watch the Birmingham video;
- How University Islamic Societies (Isocs) can be more inclusive (Central London Group)
Read the booklet (on scribd.com);
- Muslim women dress code (North London Group)
Watch the North London video.
This process was enhanced by the young people discussing the issues raised with people in power and influence such as politicians, journalists and the police.
In phase two, the young people met and interviewed current and former MPs such as Clare Short and Khalid Mahmood and senior police officers such as Zaheer Ahmad of the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP). They also took part in a discussion with Hilary Wilce, a journalist from the Independent. As a result of the discussion with Hilary the project was featured in the Independent: 'Speaking up: Young Muslims take on the extremists'.
In phase three the participants produced media resources of their own based on information researched and collected in phases one and two.
The Birmingham and North London Groups decided the best way to share their findings was through creative and thought provoking video documentaries.
Barriers to civic participation (Birmingham group)
Muslim women dress code (North London group)
The Central London Group thought the best method for them to share their ideas was by way of a booklet outlining ways of how Isocs could be more inclusive.
These resources are primarily targeted at their peers and the older members of the Muslim community, however they are just as beneficial to the wider community including teachers, youth workers and policy makers.
In March 2011 the three groups successfully launched their media resources in London.
At the Citizenship Foundation we believe the best way to achieve a stronger community is by way of active citizenship and civic engagement. Hence, YMLN was setup to provide an opportunity to young people (16-21) to explore social problems, while simultaneously encouraging the idea of addressing the problems within a democratic framework.