Young people should grow up wanting to be the change in the world that they want to see, not to give in to it.Archbishop John Sentamu
The Archbishop has often stated that: 'We sometimes ignore the purposes of God and instead choose to re-create God in our own image. Our capacity to worship is often transferred to football stars, actors or actresses, pop idols and models.
Instead of worshipping God we worship the demons of materialism, celebrity or wealth. However a world where God's purposes are ignored, it becomes a very bleak place indeed. Pursuing our own interests has a cost on shared humanity. In the context of youth, when a young person joins a gang, he or she gives up their freedom – they sell themselves, lose their identities, and hand over consciences to the group.
Body image remains a huge concern and the current uninformed stigmatisation that all those who are curvaceous are obese does not help. Young people should be free of these phoney influences and over-generalizations. They should be confident with their own personalities and bodies. Their heroes should be saints, not pop stars or gang leaders.
In defence of young people wearing hoodies, the Archbishop wore a hoodie and urged a conference on youth work in Bradford not to jump to conclusions about those who wear them, adding "99 per cent of those who wear hoodies are law-abiding citizens". '
Speaking at headteachers conferences about the work of his Youth Trust, the Archbishop has reflected that acting for the common good and serving others is not always easy in today’s world. The Archbishop has also spoken at length about the importance of having an education system that works for the whole of society and he continues to encourage young leaders to be bold and aim high.
Writing in TES in 2017, the Archbishop wrote that young people need compassion and a sense of direction. He raised concerns that although at 11 years old children in the North are roughly on track with their Southern counterparts in terms of educational attainment, by the age of 16 the gap has widened markedly.
The latest figure for young people aged 16-24 in the UK who are not in Employment, Education or Training in England stands at 790,000; representing 13.3% of this age group. However, for Yorkshire and the Humber this figure rises to 14.1%.
Unemployment and access to work continue to be a big concern for young people with research from the Prince’s Trust, revealing worrying statistics regarding young people’s self-confidence and anxiety. They found that 58% said that political events had made them fear for their futures with 41% more anxious than a year ago, and 37% worried about coping at work or school. Secondary schools have a great opportunity to counteract these beliefs and anxieties and to influence and encourage their young people to grow in character, resilience and leadership.