In a climate where more than 1,700 people applied for seven posts in a Nottingham branch of Costa Coffee it's easy to think that young people in our country might be despairing. But as I sat at an event held at Channel 4 last week, and watched, listened to and engaged with the stunning media content that young people had created for broadcast, print and online distribution, I was once again struck by an altogether different sense of confidence, optimism and creative talent.
All of us at the event came away inspired by the powerful impact created by bringing together the UK's creative media industry with the generation of young people coming of age in today's Britain. Bring together these two creative forces, these two creative generations, and the sky's the limit. The combination of skills, talent, positive energy, creativity and absolute determination to make our world a better place is awe-inspiring.
I'm not sure who got more of knocking in recent years - our young people or our media industry - both are low on the public's esteem-list, and, as so often, the negative noise about a few is masking the positive achievements of the many. Our UK media industry houses some of the most phenomenal global talent, creativity and successes. From British producer Simon Chinn's Searching for Sugar Man taking home the Oscar for Best Documentary, and Channel 4's Controller of Film and Drama Tessa Ross winning a BAFTA for her Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema, to those recognised at the newspaper industry's annual Press Awards last week. This industry, uniquely in the world I'd say, is made up of dedicated professionals with an incredibly broad skills base, from sound mixing and directing to editorial and digital skills, all of which can be harnessed, celebrated and used as a force for good.
One of the most inspiring stories of the evening came from 17 year-old Lance from east London, who took to the stage to tell the audience how having a media mentor changed his outlook on life. Through film, Lance was able to tell his story - and with his new found skills and confidence he is supporting other young people to develop theirs through a community media hub and is working towards a future as a youth worker.
Suppoted by the Jack Petchey Foundation, Media Trust links volunteer media mentors to young people working on creative media projects - to train, inspire and coach them - those young people are provided with real learning experiences and industry insight, they broaden their skills and are prepared for a wide range of future roles. They can also share their positive stories and achievements of their peers, making positive noise in the process!
But it's not just the young people that benefit, these initiatives offer our media partners unique opportunities to engage their staff in creative volunteering. Mentoring is hugely inspiring at both a professional and personal level and by distributing young people's work on their platforms they bring new and diverse voices into their editorial.
Speaking at the event Time Out London's editor in chief, Tim Arthur emphasised that young people have more power and opportunity to contribute to the media than ever before and that his staff get as much if not more out of mentoring than the young people themselves.
Britain's creative media industry can change young lives for the better, and it's just the start of what we can do to drive real and lasting change.