19 January 2017

The youth rights movement starts here…

Pioneering local charities 42nd Street and YPAS today launch a major initiative aimed at empowering young people to use their rights to address social injustice

Young people facing a rising tide of housing, money and mental health problems all too often encounter creaking public services that aren’t responsive to their needs and that fail to uphold their rights.

Young people complain of being fobbed off by council departments that were established to protect them, shut out of mental health services, exploited by employers, singled out for benefit sanctions – and ignored when they try to speak up.

Arguably, no previous generation has experienced a greater need for the skills to navigate ‘the system’ as part of negotiating a successful path to adulthood. Yet few young people are aware of their rights, how to assert them or where to go for advice.

A partnership of funders and leading youth advice charities has come together to pioneer an innovative approach. Make Our Rights Reality (MORR) will:

  • Educate young people about their rights and responsibilities and how to tackle their everyday problems
  • Support young people to work collectively in their communities to address social injustice
  • Establish a national campaign network of young people speaking up for their rights

42nd Street in Manchester will be working with Young Persons Advisory Service in Liverpool to deliver MORR in this region.

Simone Spray, Chief Executive of 42nd Street in Manchester, says:

“Navigating complicated but essential health, social and welfare systems can be so complicated. By teaching Public Legal Education, young people will become better equipped with the tools to not only navigate these systems, but also to realise their rights and influence future developments and I am particularly excited about how this approach can help shape services for young people in the new political era of Devolution”

Monique Collier, Chief Executive of Young Persons Advisory Service (YPAS) in Liverpool, says:

“YPAS in Liverpool is excited to embark on this innovative MORR partnership journey with our colleagues from 42nd Street in response to the nationally recognised gaps of young people not being aware of their rights within a hierarchical system that impacts on their empowerment. Our North West hub will evidence what young people require in order to exercise their rights to address social justice by providing support and education.”

James Kenrick, Head of Policy and Development at Youth Access (the advice and counselling network), which is leading the MORR project, says:

“We hope this will be the start of a long-term social movement to connect young people with their rights and responsibilities as a vital part of their active engagement in civic society. We know from research that young people possess the lowest levels of ‘legal capability’ of any age group. As well as giving young people the tools to exercise their rights and responsibilities at critical points in their life, we want to support the youth and legal sectors to focus on rights as a tool for empowering young people – and on youth voice as a powerful tool for social change.”

Em, aged 25, a young person who participated in a pilot of MORR’s core ‘RIGHTS’ training course, says:

“I really enjoyed it! I got the knowledge I needed to sort things out. I’ve already used what I learned to get compensation from my landlord for the damp and mould in my bedroom.”

Catherine Hillis, Grants Manager at Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, says:

“We are very pleased to be supporting Make Our Rights Reality. As a funder, we are interested in supporting work which promotes the rights of children and young people and in work that empowers young people to lead positive change in their communities.  We are excited about the way in which MORR combines both these elements and are very much looking forward to seeing the work in action.”

Matthew Smerdon, Chief Executive of The Legal Education Foundation, says:

“The Foundation is delighted to be supporting Make Our Rights Reality. We see the project generating immediate benefits for the young people involved in terms of greater knowledge and confidence to secure their rights. It will also promote young people’s wider ability to work together to secure better services for themselves and their peers and to promote their role as citizens. Youth Access is a highly thoughtful and effective organisation. The local partner organisations are also all themselves leaders in the field. The project is poised to play a significant role.”



  1. About MORR


Make Our Rights Reality (MORR) is a pioneering national programme designed to equip young people (aged 15-25) to take control of their problems and improve services in their communities by connecting them with their rights and responsibilities.

The project will take an innovative, integrated approach to public legal education and youth social action focused on disadvantaged young people in community settings.


The programme will provide young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need to tackle their everyday rights-related problems.


It will give young people a national platform to campaign on their rights, encouraging a cultural shift in society’s attitude to young people and their rights.


It will give young people opportunities to take action in their communities on rights-based issues, so that they can address social injustice and create change.


As a result, we believe that young people will be empowered to engage in civic society as informed, responsible citizens with improved resilience, wellbeing and employability; and that public services will become more responsive to young people’s needs.

  1. Project partners

The project is coordinated by Youth Access, the advice and counselling network.

MORR’s programme of public legal education and youth social action will be delivered through three ‘hubs’ managed by highly respected youth advice services:

MORR is initially funded for three years by:

Further information

For press or project enquiries, please contact:
Manchester – Rebecca Coughlin, 0161 228 7321, rebecca.coughlan@42ndstreet.org.uk

Liverpool – Kimberley Gardner, 0151 707 1025, Kimberley.Gardner@ypas.org.uk