The Youth Town Hall meeting in Chemnitz, was held at the “Compact” youth club. It fell during a time of extremely high Covid-19 cases in the city. Therefore, we had to ensure that the venue selected would allow for all safety measures to be followed.
The publicly funded youth club “Compact” and their team of social workers were a great support, not only in providing a safe space for all to meet, but also in helping to invite young people. It was particularly helpful to meet at a familiar and comfortable location to the young people, during a time when we are still wearing masks and keeping a safe distance. To overcome and compensate for the isolating restrictions, we used the tool of graphic recording to assist our discussion, document responses as well as leaving something behind that the young adults or the youth club can develop further.
We also invited a city official (the youth representative of Chemnitz, our local partner Ute Spindler) to better discuss the policies young adults may have experienced or been in contact with. This provided a safe space for purposeful discussion, as well as showing that suggestions, ideas and criticisms made in the political context would be taken on board.
The discussion mainly centred around the transition from school to work, and the possibilities and opportunities that exist in Chemnitz and other parts of Saxony or Germany.
The varied approaches the young adults had to their own city was most striking. Some characterized their stance to Chemnitz by talking about struggles and conflicts with sexist, racist or other forms of abusive behaviour in public spaces, from which demands for more openness and political involvement arose. Others felt rather detached from Chemnitz and their own capabilities to potentially shape their environment, viewing the city more as a provider of infrastructure and not much more. It was also suggested that the feeling of dislocation could be due to the pandemic, which has resulted in less public events, such as the cancelled city festival.
Now with a better insight into the struggles, hopes and wishes of the young people in Chemnitz, we are looking forward to carrying out more detailed interviews in person over the next few months.